Best High Protein Cat Food

Best High Protein Cat Food 2023 – Our Favorite Biologically Appropriate Recipes

Vet-Checked • Pet-Tested • Owner-Approved

Kate Barrington

Researched & Written by

Kate Barrington

At EasyPet, we are committed to presenting the most accurate and up-to-date information to assist you in your pet care journey. When appropriate, we consult licensed and practicing veterinarians to fact-check our professionally written articles.

Keeping your feline friends healthy is essential if you want to avoid needful meows late at night. But there are many cat foods which have poor quality components. These cat foods may not have the optimal balance of nutrients for your cat’s health.

So, what’s the best way to find a cat food that’s healthy for your cat and has the right balance of nutrients? The answer lies in the class of cat foods known as high protein cat foods.

High protein cat foods are the best way to maintain your cat’s health throughout most stages of its life because cats evolved consuming diets that are predominantly composed of proteins.

In this article, we’ll explain why high protein cat food is important, what high protein cat food is, explain how to pick a high protein cat food, then give you a few reviews of the best recipes.

What are the Best High Protein Cat Foods?

What Is High Protein Cat Food?

High protein cat food is the cat food that your cats crave.

High protein cat food has a higher proportion of protein and a lower proportion of fillers. In cats, the food that counts as “high protein” generally has greater than 26% of its weight in protein. Low protein foods for cats have as little as 15% protein by weight.

Other than protein, common ingredients in cat food are fats and grains. Grains are used to bind the protein texture of the cat food together, and also contribute a significant amount to the carbohydrate weight of the food. Grains typically incorporate fiber, which means that they help with your cat’s bowel movements.

Grains are often seen as undesirable components of cat food because they aren’t something that cats would eat in the wild. Despite this, grains have their place in cat food, so long as they are in moderation. Grains can help digestion, and a small percentage of carbohydrates are necessary for cat health.

Too many grains is indeed undesirable, however. Cats can’t easily process grains, and they don’t necessarily get vitamins that they need by doing so. Cheap cat food that is low in protein typically contains a high percentage of grains. High protein cat food typically has only a small portion of carbohydrates whatsoever, which means that high protein cat food has few grains.

Aside from grains, fats are also present in high protein cat food. Fats provide easy energy for your cat, which means that even high protein cat foods should have some fat content. While protein is the primary type of nutrient that cats need, they still must expend energy to extract protein’s dietary content.

For this reason, fats are necessary. Fats help cats have a supply of easy to tap energy, and also help cats maintain regular bowel movements. Many owners find that fats help preserve their cat’s coat and help with growth or recovery as well.

Closeup of cat eating

Why Use High Protein Foods?

High protein cat foods have some advantages over the other types of cat food.

Other types of cat food include vegetarian cat food, low protein cat food, high-fat cat food, and low carbohydrate cat food.

Unlike vegetarian cat food, high protein cat food is guaranteed to have enough animal matter—protein—to maintain a healthy weight for your cat. Vegetarian cat food is typically high in carbohydrates, which can eventually lead to cat diabetes.

Likewise, low protein cat food may lead to nutritional deficiencies, and often contains high proportions of fat and carbohydrates. While cats tend to do relatively well with diets higher in fat, careless owners can sometimes overfeed their cats as a result of high-fat cat foods’ caloric density.

For most cats, high protein cat food is the right choice because it promotes healthy growth, healthy aging, and tastes much better to the cat.

Healthy Growth

Cats need protein to grow, and they can’t get all of the essential amino acids that they need for growth from cat food that is low in protein content.

While high-fat cat foods are acceptable alternatives to high protein cat foods for a kitten, high protein cat foods are much closer to what the cat would eat in the wild and thus may be better for the cat’s bone density.

Healthier Aging

Cats’ dietary needs change during their twilight years, but that doesn’t mean that they can forgo consuming mostly protein. High protein foods guarantee that as a cat’s metabolism slows they won’t gain weight as a result.

Likewise, cats won’t be needful for more energy so long as they are regularly consuming enough protein.

Better Flavors

Cats love the taste of protein because protein is typically derived from animal sources and has a meaty taste as a result. While it’s possible to find high protein cat food derived solely from plant sources, cats are likely to prefer these foods to low protein cat foods.

Part of the reason why high protein cat food tastes better for your cat is that it retains its flavor better during the canning or preservation process. Though protein still loses some of its nutrient content from common processing methods, it doesn’t lose its taste as much as carbohydrates do because it’s denser.

How To Pick A High Protein Cat Food

Now that you know why high protein cat food is better than the other alternatives, the question of how to pick the best high protein cat food remains.

There are many questions when it comes to picking the best high protein cat food for your cat. Organic, or not organic? Wet, or dry? Animal protein, or plant protein?

These questions may not have definitive answers, but there are some best practices that you can use while evaluating different high protein cat foods.

What Does Your Cat Like?

First and foremost, what flavors does your cat prefer? For many cats, this is a question of protein sourcing.

Some cats prefer fish sourced proteins, whereas others might prefer chicken, horse, or other animals. Most cats love organ meat sourced proteins, regardless of the animal. Few cats will natively prefer vegetable sourced proteins, though there are exceptions.

Use your cat’s tastes as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. Your cat might like a new type of cat food if it has a higher protein content than their traditional favorites.

How Much Protein Does The Food Have?

The best high protein cat foods are not 100% protein because the animal matter is not 100% protein. Though high protein cat foods will be mostly protein, they’ll also contain fat and up to 10% carbohydrates.

Importantly, wet cat food usually has more protein than dry cat food because it doesn’t need to be processed as much. Wet cat food also has the benefit of bringing enough water to the table, which helps your cat digest food and prevents urinary tract issues.

Is The Food Nutritionally Complete?

There isn’t much point in a high protein content cat food if the protein itself doesn’t contain all of the essential amino acids that your cat needs to survive. This is particularly an issue in heavily processed cat foods, as many amino acids in proteins degrade during processing and must be reintroduced later by the manufacturer.

Not all manufacturers reintroduce proteins in sufficient quantities, and not all manufacturers reintroduce the right amino acids. The best high protein cat foods are amino acid complete, have amino acids in the proper proportions for cat health, and avoid the issue of reintroducing proteins by avoiding extensive processing.

Does Your Cat Like The Food You Picked?

There isn’t much point in finding a high protein cat food if your cat isn’t going to eat it. Buy a sample quantity, then see if your cat gravitates to it. Don’t try to force your cat into eating a new kind of food for too long if they aren’t willing to eat enough of it to stay healthy.

Sometimes your cat’s flavor preferences are inconsistent with what should be the best cat food for them.

Cat enjoying healthy food

Reviewed : Best High Protein Cat Foods

You’re ready to pick a high protein cat food for your cat, but you might not know exactly where to start. In this section, we’ll review a few high protein cat foods so that you can have a few ideas.

Now Fresh Grain-Free Adult Recipe Dry Cat Food

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The Now Fresh Grain-Free Adult Recipe Dry Cat Food is a dry cat food that’s grain free and composed of duck, salmon, turkey, and plant-derived matter. The Now Fresh offering probably won’t be offensive to any cat, which means that you won’t have problems getting your cat to eat it even if they’re a picky eater—but you might have trouble getting your cat to clean its bowl.

The Now Fresh cat food contains a smattering of ingredients, which means that it’s tough to use it to play to your cat’s preferred flavors precisely.

With that said, it contains 31% protein and 18% fat by weight—enough protein to keep your cat healthy, but not exactly the highest protein content of the high protein cat foods.


  • Organic
  • Contains many protein types to appeal to many palates
  • Contains probiotics
  • Doesn’t contain grains


  • Contains many sugars from cranberries, pumpkin, blackberries, and carrots
  • Contains many bulk carbohydrates from peas, sprouts, and spinach
  • Dry
  • May not be the most desirable flavor because of abundance of ingredients

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

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The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is a dry cat food that will appeal to chicken loving cats everywhere. The Blue Buffalo cat food provides 40% of protein content by weight and also provides 4% fiber content and 18% fat content. This is a high protein cat food that’s optimized for adult cats.

Interestingly, the Blue Buffalo cat food is made of kibble pellets, some of which are “Life Source Bits.” These pellets are darker in color than the others and are supposedly more vitamin and mineral rich than the others.

While this sounds good at first glance, there is a very good chance that these pellets taste different from the other pellets that are predominantly chicken flavored. Cats can be very picky eaters, and they are not about to forget that some of the pellets taste different than others. That doesn’t mean that your cat won’t eat the vitamin pellets, but the possibility is there.

Aside from the vitamin pellets, the Blue Buffalo cat food contains no grains and is very forthcoming about reintroducing sufficient quantities of the amino acid taurine after processing to ensure that your cat gets an amino-complete kibble.


  • Great for chicken lovers
  • No unnatural preservatives
  • Cheaper by weight than other brands
  • Contains sufficient quantities of taurine


  • Cats may dislike vitamin pellet flavor
  • May contain too much fiber and too little water for some cats
  • Incomplete ingredient list

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Chicken Pate Canned Cat Food

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The Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Chicken Pate Canned Cat Food is a wet cat food derived from chicken. The Merrick cat food wins praise for its protein source—chicken muscle and chicken organ meat—and for its comprehensive ingredient list.

Unfortunately, the Merrick cat food is not a high protein cat food, even if it is delicious. Each can contains a pate which is only 10% protein by weight. Wet cat food is typically lower in protein content per weight as a result of its high moisture content—water is heavy— so there’s no reason to worry that there may not be enough protein in this cat food to keep your cat in optimal health.

The Merrick cat food is by all appearances an excellent choice. Every tin of food contains an abundance of essential nutrients like choline, taurine, and riboflavin.


  • Excellent flavor
  • Abundant moisture content
  • Organ meat derived proteins
  • Contains many supplemental nutrients


  • Low fiber content
  • Expensive
  • Contains preservatives

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food

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The Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food is a wet cat food based on chicken and turkey organ proteins which has 11% protein by volume. For wet cat food, it’s slightly richer in protein than the opposition.

Importantly, by mass, Nature’s Variety cat food is 95% animal matter and 5% plant matter. This cat food also contains 3% fiber, which is a good amount of wet cat food. This cat food is likely to be extremely appealing to cats who love poultry.

The only issue with Nature’s Variety cat food is that the nutrition information isn’t forthcoming regarding how much of each essential amino acid is reintroduced to the food after processing. While it’s unlikely that a cat food made from these ingredients would be nutrient incomplete on its own, the processing may be destroying many of the essential amino acids.

Because the manufacturer doesn’t include the information on the label, there’s no way to know—which means that your cat might be getting slightly less than is necessary for health.


  • 95% animal matter
  • Great flavor of muscle and organ meat
  • Great ratio of fiber to moisture content for good digestion
  • Less expensive than other wet cat foods


  • Incomplete nutritional information
  • May not contain enough calories for a growing or healing cat
  • Artichokes and parsley components may not be palatable

What’s The Right High Protein Cat Food?

There’s no way to know which high protein cat food is the best cat food until you try them out with your cat. There are a few tips, though.

If your cat loves the taste of chicken and prefers dry food, try the Blue Buffalo cat food because it should be a slam dunk for your cat’s flavor profile and nutritional needs. If your cat loves chicken but prefers wet food, the Merrick chicken pate is a good bet because of its organ meat composition. Should the Merrick cat food prove too expensive or fail to please your cat, check out Nature’s Variety.

If your cat isn’t a picky eater or has an eclectic palate, the Now Fresh dry food is probably a winning pick because of its numerous protein sources—just make sure that your cat gets enough water.

As always, don’t ignore your cat’s communication channels—unfinished bowls of food are signs that your cat is not enjoying the food enough to consume its entire nutrient content, which means that it is undernourished.

You should always have a gradual phase in and phase out period for your cat’s new foods, but don’t be afraid to cut off an experiment early on if your cat is clearly disinterested in the food you’re trying. As many cat food manufacturers suggest, if your cat vomits after the introduction of new food you should slow down the rate of phasing out its preferred food rather than stopping feeding with the new food altogether.

Best of luck in picking the right food for your feline friends and remember that cats crave high protein cat food made from animal sources above all else.

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