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The 7 Best High-Protein Cat Foods: Reviews and Our Top Picks

Charles Grisham
By Charles Grisham
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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If you buy something from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.
See our advertising disclosure.

What is the Best High-Protein Cat Food?

Smalls Cat Food
  • Smalls Human-Grade Fresh is protein-rich and picky cat-friendly. 
  • Our ingredients are USDA-certified, humanely-harvested, and sustainably-sourced—no BPAs, preservatives, fillers, or mystery-ingredients, ever.Smalls Freeze-Dried Raw retains the nutritional benefits of a raw, high-protein diet.

Do Cats Need High Protein Cat Food?

Yes, high-protein cat food is necessary for felines.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need high-quality animal protein for energy, growth, and maintenance. As carnivores, cats require real meat for optimal health and wellness.

Cats can handle small amounts of certain carbohydrates, so some foods will contain things like sweet potatoes and brown rice for a carb source. This is okay but ideally, high-protein cat food should be at least 30% protein to ensure the cat is reaching its nutritional requirements.

Is High-Protein Food Good for Cats?

Yes, high-protein cat food is good.

Cats need a high-protein diet to live but there are other benefits as well. Here we have listed some of them:

  • Reduced Obesity Risk. High-protein cat food helps your cat feel fuller sooner and stay fuller longer meaning your cat will naturally eat less and be able to more easily maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduced Diabetes Risk. Higher protein cat foods will generally have lower carb content. Lower carbohydrate content in cat food means your cat’s blood sugar will be more stable.
  • Weight Loss Support. As stated above, high protein foods are lower carb and more satiating than foods with higher carb contents. This encourages your cat to eat less, thus reducing their weight to a more manageable level.

The Best High-Protein Cat Food Reviewed

From regular adult cat food to freeze-dried kitten food, high-protein formulas come in different forms and flavors. To help pet parents find the best option for their pets, we have reviewed the best high protein cat foods

Smalls Cat Food

Smalls Cat Food

Get it on Smalls

Summary: Smalls Cat Food offers human-grade recipes for cats. They are made with all-natural and nutrient-dense ingredients that check the AAFCO standards. The recipes are easily digestible and loaded with animal-sourced protein. The brand offers three protein options (Bird, Other Bird & Cow) and three textures (smooth, ground, and pulled).

Type: Fresh & Freeze-dried cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $1.25-1.93/meal

Pros

  • Human-grade, all-natural ingredients
  • High-protein and nutrient-dense formulas
  • Simple and easy-to-digest recipes
  • Promote healthy skin and shiny coats
  • Three flavors and three texture options

Cons

  • No significant cons

Ingredient Analysis: The Chicken Recipe contains chicken, chicken liver, green beans, peas, chicken hearts, and kale. The Other Birds Recipe contains turkey thigh, turkey liver, green beans, peas, and kale. The Cow Recipe contains beef, beef liver, green beans, and spinach. All recipes are enriched with vitamins, minerals, and taurine.  

Review: Cat owners are satisfied with the Smalls Cat Food recipes. They say the food works wonders and their cats love the taste.

The Honest Kitchen Minced Chicken in Bone Broth Gravy

The Honest Kitchen Minced Chicken in Bone Broth Gravy

Get it on The Honest Kitchen     Get it on Amazon

Summary: A high-protein wet cat food that surely meets your cat’s nutritional and taste criteria, The Honest Kitchen Minced Chicken in Bone Broth Gravy is produced from just the freshest ingredients. This humanely-produced cat formula contains delectable chunky, minced cage-free chicken, along with essential nutrients and amino acids.

This mixture has a balanced ratio of omegas, which is crucial for keeping your cat’s skin and coat healthy. Additionally, it contains a lot of protein and other mild components that support your cat’s digestion and regular bowel movements.

Type: Wet cat food

Best for: Cats of all life stages

Price: $2.99/5.5oz

Pros

  • All-natural, Non-GMO ingredients
  • Rich in moisture and protein
  • No additives, artificial colors, and meat meals
  • Human-grade quality
  • Promotes regular bowel movement

Cons

  • Its strong gravy flavor might not be favorable for some cats

Ingredient Analysis: Composed of cage-free minced chicken, carrots, blueberries, and pumpkin, this wet cat formula is rich in protein and essential nutrients for healthy growth and enhanced immunity. Combined with Yucca Schidigera extract, turmeric, and salmon oil, this wet cat food is filled with vitamins and antioxidants that are helpful in your cat’s digestive and urinary health.

Review: Dedicated consumers claim that among all commercial wet food formulas, their cats prefer this recipe from The Honest Kitchen. They stated that by constantly feeding their cats THK’s Minced Chicken in Bone Broth Gravy each day, their feline’s immune system has grown stronger.

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH High-Protein Adult Dry Cat Food

IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH High-Protein Adult Dry Cat Food

Get it on Amazon      Get it on Chewy

Summary: This high-protein dry cat food is made with healthy fiber to maintain weight and for hairball control. A prebiotic and probiotic blend fortified with calcium is suited for indoor and outdoor cats. It is available in three different sizes and uses chicken as the first ingredient. A well-rounded vitamin profile of calcium and magnesium helps strengthen teeth and bones while omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids promote a healthy coat.

Type: Dry cat food

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $2.49/lb

Pros

  • Good for both indoor and outdoor cats
  • 100% complete and balanced
  • Supports digestion, skin, coat, and heart health
  • Fortified with calcium and antioxidants
  • No fillers and artificial preservatives

Cons

  • There is only one flavor on Amazon
  • Calories are a little high per cup of this food

Ingredient Analysis: The protein sources are wholesome and complete with amino acids, like taurine, necessary for a cat’s health. The addition of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids makes a good, well-rounded dry cat food, although, we are not crazy about the use of artificial colors.

Review: 80% of reviews on Amazon are 5 stars, amounting to around 2,600 five-star reviews. These reviewers are happy with this high-protein cat food and how their cat responded to it with one person even calling it “prescription grade.” The most common theme among one and two-star reviews is that it seems to have made their cats ill.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High-Protein, Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High-Protein, Natural Adult Dry Cat Food

Get it on Amazon      Get it on Chewy

Summary: This high-protein dry food is available in three flavors and a handful of sizes. It is highly reviewed on Amazon and contains real salmon, duck, or chicken. Mixed in the kibble are life-source bits of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that have been crafted by holistic vets to support immune health. The ingredients in this food never contain animal by-products or grains.

Type: Dry cat food

Best for: Indoor cats

Price: $3.20/lb

Pros

  • Several flavors to choose from
  • 30% protein, antioxidant-rich recipe
  • Animal proteins are the first ingredient
  • With blueberries and cranberries
  • No artificial flavors

Cons

  • The chicken recipe is often out of stock
  • Has some vegetable fillers

Ingredient Analysis: The chicken & salmon ingredients are the first two ingredients. We like this as it indicates the food is made of high-quality protein. However, the use of peas and tapioca starch, though not necessarily bad, is not the best choice for fillers.

Review: A whopping 85% of over 14,500 reviews on Amazon and over 1,000 reviews on Chewy rate this high-protein cat food five stars. They made claims it did everything from curing dander to helping their senior cat eat again. Only 2% give this product one star but they state they believe this food is responsible for giving their cat bladder stones.

Purina ONE High Protein, Healthy Weight Dry Cat Food

Purina ONE High Protein, Healthy Weight Dry Cat Food

Get it on Amazon      Get it on Chewy

Summary: This cat food is available in wet, dry, and a mixture of both. It comes in four flavors and a wide variety of sizes and is made using up to 42% protein in the formula to help maintain a healthy weight. L-carnitine is added to help metabolize fat and all of this comes at the lowest price per ounce of any food on this list.

Type: Dry and wet

Best for: Adult cats and cats needing weight control

Price: $1.46/lb

Pros

  • Turkey is the first ingredient
  • With 42% protein content
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Comes in a wet cat food option
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Contains grains
  • Many flavors are often out of stock

Ingredient Analysis: Overall, the ingredients in this food are okay. Real chicken and turkey are the first ingredients and we like that as it makes this a protein-rich food. However, we’re not crazy about the chicken by-product meal or the corn gluten meal as there are better quality ingredients that could have been used in their places.

Review: Over three-quarters of the reviews are five-star. They state the reason they liked this high-protein cat food is their finicky cats enjoyed it and it does its job in helping to maintain a healthy weight in their cats. One and two-star reviewers were not happy with the inclusion of grains in the ingredients of this product with one consumer even stating “helps your cat lose weight because they’d rather starve than eat this.”

CRAVE Grain Free Indoor Adult High Protein Natural Dry Cat Food

CRAVE Grain Free Indoor Adult High Protein Natural Dry Cat Food

Get it on Amazon      Get it on Chewy

Summary: This dry cat food is available in three package sizes and three flavors including chicken & salmon, chicken, and salmon & ocean fish. Real chicken and salmon are the first ingredients and the high protein content helps satiate your cat. Tapioca starch and split peas are added for carbs and vitamin supplements are included for a healthy and balanced diet. This food is specially formulated for indoor cats to be lower in calories and filling so your cat does not overconsume.

Type: Dry cat food

Best for: Indoor cats of all life stages

Price: $3.79/lb

Pros

  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Grain-free formula with 40% protein
  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Supports the immune system
  • No corn, soy, wheat, and by-products

Cons

  • Processed chicken fat is added
  • More expensive than some others on this list

Ingredient Analysis: Chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, giving this a high protein content to meet a cat’s needs. However, the inclusion of salt, split peas, and processed chicken fat is questionable and the vitamin profile is missing vitamin A.

Review: Three-quarters of reviewers praised this high-protein cat food for “solving their problems” with their cat’s digestive issues. Some claimed it had saved their cat’s life by improving skin issues and weight problems. Those who were more critical of the food, however, cited reasons like urinary tract blockage and some of the chemicals used were too harsh for their liking.

Purina ONE True Instinct High Protein, Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Purina ONE True Instinct High Protein, Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

Get it on Amazon      Get it on Chewy

Summary: This food is available in a variety of flavors and package sizes. It comes in dry and wet versions that use real whitefish as the first ingredient. This food is made with zero fillers or grains and uses pea starch and soybean meal as a source of carbohydrates. It is supplemented with vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced nutritional profile and includes up to 12% moisture for hydration.

Type: Dry cat food

Best for: Adult cats

Price: $2.03/lb

Pros

  • Fairly limited ingredient list
  • Real whitefish is the first ingredient
  • Grain-free pet food
  • Highly digestible formula
  • With 35% protein content

Cons

  • Uses canola meal in the recipe
  • Plant proteins for boosted protein content

Ingredient Analysis: Whitefish is the first ingredient. That makes this food high in protein and We aren’t a fan of the use of canola meal and preserved beef fat as it takes away from the “natural” in natural ingredients.

Review: Most of the customers who bought this high-protein cat food gave it five stars. One consumer even requested a 6th star with which he could rate this food as he was so pleased with it while many others say it helped their cats with sensitive stomachs. The majority of negative reviews revolved around Purina’s parent company, Nestle, and the fact the food isn’t made in the USA.

How do I Know if a Cat Food is High-Protein?

If the first ingredient is an animal product like deboned chicken, whole fish, or turkey then it is a good chance the food is high in protein. Typically, anything with at least 30% protein is considered high protein.

High-protein cat food formulas may cause allergic reactions if the cat is unable to completely break down the amino acids that make up the protein.

Hydrolyzed protein cat food is prescription pet food for instances where the cat has a “diagnosed sensitivity that is expressed through the skin, or diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease or food intolerance” according to hemopet.org. These are prescribed for some sensitivities where a high-protein food is over the counter.

How Much High-Protein Cat Food Should I Feed My Cat?

Check the manufacturer’s label to see what their recommendations are as they will likely be fairly accurate. You can, however, figure out how much protein will fit your cat’s needs on your own.

To find this number we take the cat’s healthy weight and multiply it by 2. That is a rough estimate of the number of calories of protein your adult cat requires each day.

The amount of protein required in your cat’s diet will vary depending on your cat and its age. For example, senior cats require less protein than younger cats as older cats do not exert themselves as often. Talk to your vet if you are unsure about how much to feed your cat.