The Best High Protein Cat Food

Cats in the wild eat a high protein diet consisting almost exclusively of meat. While domesticated felines might not have quite the same protein requirements, many thrive on high protein cat food, which contains a greater amount of protein and fewer carbohydrates than standard commercial cat food. You may notice differences in your cat’s energy level, coat, skin, and overall health when eating a high protein cat food.

We reviewed dozens of high protein cat foods to identify the best of the best. We considered various factors, such as the benefits of wet food versus dry food, the protein content when factoring in the relative amount of moisture, overall ingredient quality, and average customer reviews.

Best High Protein Cat Food Overall
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth
A top quality wet cat food with at least 90% meat ingredients.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth stood out to us as the very best high protein cat food overall. It contains top-notch ingredients with lots of meat and minimal starches. It’s available in three tasty flavors, though the chicken and tuna options contain more protein than the whitefish formula.

The 5 Top-Rated High Protein Cat Foods

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best High Protein Cat Food OverallNatural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth4.5
Best Dry High Protein Cat FoodORIJEN High-Protein Biologically Appropriate Dry Cat Food4.5
Best Budget High Protein Cat FoodSolid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein Holistic Dry Cat Food4.5
Best High Protein Cat Food for Indoor CatsInstinct Raw Boost Indoor Health Dry Cat Food4.4
Best Senior High Protein Cat FoodBlue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Mature Pate Wet Cat Food4.3

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best High Protein Cat Food Overall: Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth contains limited ingredients focused on meat with few added extras. It’s low in carbohydrates, as it’s free from grains and potatoes, though it does contain a small amount of tapioca starch to thicken the broth. The chicken and tuna formulas contain 11% crude protein and the whitefish formula contains 9% crude protein, though when you adjust this on a dry matter basis to account for moisture content, this equals approximately 65% protein for the chicken and tuna formulas and 53% protein for the whitefish formula. We’ll explain more about the dry matter basis later in this post.

We love that Natural Balance contains no filler ingredients with 90% to 91% meat ingredients and meat broth, 7% to 8% plant-based ingredients, and 2% added vitamins and minerals to ensure it meets your cat’s nutritional needs. With whole shreds of meat in a flavorful broth, this food tends to be appealing even to picky eaters. You receive 24 pouches of 2.5 oz for $35, which isn’t the cheapest but is worthwhile considering the quality.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth Key Features: 

  • Limited ingredients and single protein source great for cats with food sensitivities
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids improve skin and coat health
  • Complete and balanced to meet the needs of adult cats

Best Dry High Protein Cat Food: ORIJEN High-Protein Biologically Appropriate Dry Cat Food

Best Dry High Protein Cat Food
ORIJEN High-Protein Biologically Appropriate Dry Cat Food
Containing carefully selected ingredients to meet the biological needs of cats.

Dry food is often seen as the inferior option for cats but you can find some great options out there, such as ORIJEN High-Protein Biologically Appropriate Dry Cat Food, our favorite high protein dry cat food. ORIJEN makes “biologically appropriate” cat food, containing 90% animal ingredients, two-thirds of which are fresh or raw, including “wholeprey” ingredients of organ meat, bone, and cartilage, which is more like a cat’s natural diet. This food is grain-free and avoids other carb-heavy starch ingredients, such as potatoes.

You can choose from three formulas: cat and kitten, six fish, or regional red. Each contains 40% crude protein or 44% protein on a dry matter basis. While this won’t rival the protein content of wet food, it’s a good amount of protein for dry cat food. You can choose between 4 lb and 12 lb bags, ranging in price from $27 to $73, and working out at between roughly $6 and $8 per lb.

ORIJEN High-Protein Biologically Appropriate Dry Cat Food Key Features:

  • Made in the USA using fresh regional ingredients
  • Includes fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Formulated according to cat’s evolutionary needs

Best Budget High Protein Cat Food: Solid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein Holistic Dry Cat Food

Best Budget High Protein Cat Food
Solid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein Holistic Dry Cat Food
An affordable high protein option formulated with a holistic view of feline health.

Solid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein Holistic Dry Cat Food is formulated for whole-body health. In addition to being protein-rich, it also contains omega fatty acids to support to skin, coat, and immune system, and probiotics for gut health, plus superfoods to feed good bacteria. The idea is that a balanced digestive system packed with beneficial bacteria is good for the immune system and may affect your cat’s overall health more than we yet know. Real cage-free chicken is the first ingredient and this food boasts 42% crude protein, or roughly 47% on a dry matter basis.

This is a grain-free formula and is also free from other starchy ingredients, such as potato and sweet potato. The added vitamins and minerals help provide a balanced diet for cats of all life stages. At $33 for a 12 lb bag, you can find cheaper bags of food of a smaller size, but the price by weight is hard to beat, costing just $2.75 per lb.

Solid Gold Indigo Moon High Protein Holistic Dry Cat Food Key Features: 

  • Contains no animal by-products or by-product meals
  • Choice of chicken and egg or Alaskan pollock formula
  • Special probiotic formula stays viable until consumed

Best High Protein Cat Food for Indoor Cats: Instinct Raw Boost Indoor Health Dry Cat Food

Best High Protein Cat Food for Indoor Cats
Instinct Raw Boost Indoor Health Dry Cat Food
This high protein kibble is blended with freeze-dried raw chunks for an extra protein boost.

Instinct Raw Boost Indoor Health Dry Cat Food mixes a quality kibble with some of the benefits of raw food from the freeze-dried raw chicken pieces. We’re focusing on the chicken formula here, but there’s also a rabbit formula available if that’s more to your cat’s taste. It’s made without grains, potatoes, soy, and other typical filler ingredients. Fresh chicken is the first ingredient, but it also contains protein-packed chicken and salmon meal, but no animal by-products or by-product meals.

The crude protein content is a solid 37.5%, or 41% on a dry matter basis. Formulated for indoor cats, it has adequate protein to help maintain muscle mass but fewer calories to discourage weight gain since indoor cats tend to be more sedentary than those with free access to the outside world. Instinct Raw Boost chicken formula is sold in 5 lb bags for approximately $25, or $5 per lb.

Instinct Raw Boost Indoor Health Dry Cat Food Key Features: 

  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Added probiotics for digestive health
  • Made in the USA

Best Senior High Protein Cat Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Mature Pate Wet Cat Food

Best Senior High Protein Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Mature Pate Wet Cat Food
A smooth pate style wet food that supports muscle growth and cognitive function.

The needs of senior cats are somewhat different from those of their younger counterparts, and Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Mature Pate Wet Cat Food is formulated to cater to these needs. It contains 8% crude protein and 36% on a dry matter basis, which isn’t the highest of all wet foods but stands up alongside the protein content of high protein dry foods. Although grain-free, this food contains potatoes, which we’d prefer to do without.

That aside, it’s a very good food overall and tends to be palatable, even to picky cats. The pate texture is perfect for seniors who are struggling with dental issues. Chicken is the first ingredient, plus it contains DHA from fish oil, which can improve cognitive function to support brain health as cats age. It comes in either 3 oz or 5.5 oz cans, with 24 to a pack. The smaller cans cost $28 and the larger cans cost $30, so it works out far more cost-effective to buy the larger cans.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Mature Pate Wet Cat Food Key Features: 

  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • No poultry by-products
  • Contains no corn, wheat, or soy

Who Should Buy High Protein Cat Food

If you want to feed your cat the best possible food to meet their needs, consider a high protein cat food. Cats’ diets naturally contain high levels of protein, so this is the ideal way to feed your feline friend. Protein helps build and maintain muscle, keeping your cat strong, lean, and agile, as they’re meant to be.

You might also wish to check out our guide to the best raw cat foods.

Best High Protein Cat Food Overall
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth
A top quality wet cat food with at least 90% meat ingredients.

Important Features to Consider

A high protein cat food should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a high protein food for your cat:

  • Wet vs. dry. One of your main decisions is whether to feed your cat wet food or dry food. Though protein content varies in both, the highest protein wet cat foods have a significantly higher protein content than the highest protein dry cat foods, when you compare them both on a dry matter basis. Due to its high moisture content, wet food can prevent cats from getting kidney stones and UTIs, especially if they’re reluctant to drink water, as many cats are. Dry food may have its flaws, but it’s easier to free feed if your cats pick at their food throughout the day, plus it’s cheaper lb for lb.
  • Protein content. If you’re specifically shopping for a high protein cat food, protein content is paramount. However, it’s difficult to compare crude protein between different foods due to the differences in moisture content, particularly between wet and dry foods. For example, a wet cat food with 10% crude protein might actually be more protein-rich in real terms than a dry cat food with 40% protein. As such, you may prefer to compare using the dry matter basis, which we’ll explain how to calculate in the frequently asked questions section.
  • Overall ingredient quality. It’s natural to want to feed your cat a quality diet, but how can you sort the good from the bad? It can be tough to gauge ingredient quality just from looking at a food, but a good signifier is a lack of artificial additives, such as colorings, flavorings, and preservatives. The use of meat sourced in the USA or wild-caught meat is also a good sign that you’re buying a food with a decent overall ingredient quality. Also, look out for any unnecessary filler ingredients that your cat could do without.
  • Grain-free. Cats are carnivores and have no need for grains in their diets since they get adequate carbohydrates from meat, plus small amounts of fruits and vegetables. However, beware of grain-free cat foods that simply replace grains with a different starch ingredient, such as potatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is high protein cat food good for cats? 

Yes, high protein cat food is good for cats and is more like the natural diet they’ve evolved to eat. Protein is responsible for building and maintain muscle, helping your cat to stay trim and fit. It also helps cats feel fuller at mealtime, so can help with maintaining a healthy weight.

Should senior cats eat a high protein diet? 

As we mentioned above, protein helps maintain muscle mass, which is even more important as cats age. As such, high protein levels are even more important for senior cats than they are for younger adult cats. In fact, any senior cat food has higher-than-average levels of protein.

What is the dry matter basis for comparing protein and how do you calculate it? 

When comparing protein levels between different cat foods, it’s important to use the dry matter basis, which calculates the percentage of protein in any given cat food when you take away all the moisture. This allows you to accurately compare between brands with highly disparate moisture levels. To work out the protein content on a dry matter basis, you’ll need to know both the crude protein and the moisture content as percentages. You subtract the moisture level from 100 to find the percentage of the food that is dry matter. Next, you divide the crude protein by the dry matter and multiply this figure by 100. So, if a food has 10% crude protein and 80% moisture, you start by subtracting 80 from 100 to get 20% dry matter. Then divide 10 (the percentage of crude protein) by 20 (the percentage of dry matter) to get 0.5. Multiply 0.50 by 100 to get 50, which is the percentage of protein on a dry matter basis.

What’s the easiest protein for cats to digest? 

As cats are carnivores, animal protein is easiest for them to digest. Any foods that rely on corn and soy to boost the protein content aren’t easily digestible by cats.

Other High Protein Cat Foods We Reviewed

Best High Protein Cat Food Overall
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Wet Cat Food in Broth
A top quality wet cat food with at least 90% meat ingredients.

We looked at 20 other high protein cat foods. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best high protein cat foods list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your feline friend. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Wet High Protein Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Delights Flaked Wet Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Wild Delights Flaked Wet Cat Food

This high protein wet food is available in two flavors, both of which contain 9% crude protein or 50% protein on a dry matter basis.

Key Features: 

  • Two choices of can size
  • Grain-free
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives

Cost: $24 to $38

Crave Adult Wet Cat Food

Crave Adult Wet Cat Food

You have plenty of options to choose from with this cat food, as it comes in six flavors, all of which are available as either cut in gravy or pate.

Key Features: 

  • No chicken by-product meal
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • 48 servings in a pack

Cost: $$25 to $30

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Recipe Natural Wet Canned Cat Food

This tasty wet food contains 45% protein on a dry matter basis (or 10% crude protein) with 95% of that coming from animal ingredients.

Key Features: 

  • No filler ingredients
  • Made with cage-free chicken
  • Inspired by raw food

Cost: $30

Tiki Cat After Dark Grain Free Wet Food

Tiki Cat After Dark Grain Free Wet Food

The After Dark range from Tiki Cat contains gizzards and organ meat to simulate a more natural whole prey diet. Crude protein is at least 12%, depending on the formula.

Key Features: 

  • Dry matter basis protein content of at least 66%
  • Wide range of formulas plus variety pack option
  • No artificial additives

Cost: $20 to $24

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Wet Canned Cat Food

A smooth beef, venison, and lamb formula with 12% crude protein and 54% protein on a dry matter basis.

Key Features: 

  • All-natural ingredients
  • Grain-free
  • No meat by-products

Cost: $11 to $64

Weruva Grain-Free Natural Canned Wet Cat Food Paw Lickin’ Chicken

Weruva Grain-Free Natural Canned Wet Cat Food

We’re focusing on the Paw Lickin’ Chicken formula, which is made primarily from chicken broth and chicken, but you can choose several other varieties, too.

Key Features: 

  • 67% protein on a dry matter basis
  • Grain, corn, and soy-free
  • 12 x 10 oz cans

Cost: $41

ZIWI Peak Wet Cat Food

ZIWI Peak Wet Cat Food

You have 8 recipes to choose from, but mackerel has the highest protein, with 12% crude protein and 54% protein on a dry matter basis.

Key Features: 

  • 92% animal ingredients
  • Made with sustainably sourced ingredients
  • No filler ingredients

Cost: $45 to $62

Dry High Protein Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Cat Food

The “LifeSource Bits” add a nutrient-packed punch to this chicken kibble. It has a 40% crude protein content or 44% on a dry matter basis.

Key Features: 

  • Choice of three package sizes
  • Grain-free
  • Rich in antioxidants

Cost: $18 to $31

CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

CRAVE Grain Free High Protein Dry Cat Food

Choose from four poultry- and fish-based formulas, all of which contain 40% crude protein or 44% on a dry matter basis.

Key Features: 

  • Grain-free
  • No chicken by-products, corn, or soy
  • Three package sizes available

Cost: $7 to $31

Dr. Elsey’s CleanProtein Formula Dry Cat Food Chicken Recipe

Dr. Elsey's CleanProtein Formula Dry Cat Food

It’s on the pricey side but the 59% crude protein and 67% dry matter basis protein content can’t be rivaled by other dry cat foods.

Key Features: 

  • 95% protein from animal sources
  • Rich in omega fatty acids
  • Salmon recipe also available

Cost: $11 to $42

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Recipe Natural Cat Food

Instinct Ultimate Protein Grain Free Recipe Natural Cat Food

Way up there in protein content for dry food with both chicken and duck formulas containing 47% crude protein or 52% on a dry matter basis.

Key Features: 

  • Made with cage-free poultry
  • Raw-coated
  • Grain-free

Cost: $25 to $45

Lucy Pet Formulas for Life Salmon, Pumpkin, Quinoa Dry Cat Food

Lucy Pet Formulas for Life Salmon, Pumpkin, Quinoa Dry Cat Food

If your cat has a sensitive stomach or skin, this might be the dry food for him. The 36% protein on a dry matter basis is higher than average but no exceptional.

Key Features:

  • Rich in omega 3 fatty acids
  •  Supports a healthy digestive system
  • Two package sizes

Cost: $20 to $39

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets High Protein Dry Cat Food

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets High Protein Dry Cat Food

The dry counterpart of our best high protein cat food overall, this food comes in three formulas: chicken, salmon, and tuna.

Key Features:

  • 37% crude protein
  • 41% protein on a dry matter basis
  • Grain and potato free

Cost: $20 to $35

Senior High Protein Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Blue Mature Indoor Hairball Control Dry Food

Blue Buffalo Blue Mature Indoor Hairball Control Dry Food

This food is designed for a fairly particular subset of cats: seniors who live indoors and have issues with hairballs. But, if your cat ticks all these boxes, it’s their perfect food.

Key Features: 

  • Rich in protein to maintain muscle
  • Good for heart health
  • Decreases hairballs

Cost: $14

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Mature Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Mature Dry Cat Food

We love the tasty chicken formula that contains 38% crude or approximately 42% protein on a dry matter basis.

Key Features: 

  • LifeSource Bits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Grain and soy-free
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cost: $21

Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse Wet Food Senior Formula

Tiki Cat Velvet Mousse Wet Food Senior Formula

The smooth mousse texture is perfect for senior cats, as is the high protein content of 10% crude protein or 55% protein on a dry matter basis.

Key Features: 

  • Made with chicken and pumpkin
  • Grain-free
  • Contains essential fatty acids

Cost: $19

High Protein Cat Food for Indoor Cats

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Indoor Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food

A general indoor dry cat food that contains 38% crude protein and 42% on a dry matter basis. It’s great for building lean muscle.

Key Features: 

  • Grain and soy-free
  • Supports a health weight
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for coat and skin health

Cost: $12

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball Control Dry Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball Control Dry Cat Food

Not only is this food suitable for indoor cats, but it’s also more specifically designed for indoor cats with hairball problems.

Key Features: 

  • 38% crude protein
  • 42% protein on a dry matter basis
  • Grain-free formula

Cost: $23

Diamond Naturals Dry Indoor Cat Food

Diamond Naturals Dry Indoor Cat Food

The chicken and rice formula uses cage-free chicken and ground white rice for easier digestion. The protein content is higher than average but could be better.

Key Features: 

  • 32% crude protein
  • 35% protein on a dry matter basis
  • Contains probiotics for digestive health

Cost: $12

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor and Sensitive Digestion Dry Cat Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor and Sensitive Digestion Dry Cat Food

Made for indoor cats, but specifically those with sensitive digestive systems. the 30% crude protein could be higher but is still a little better than average.

Key Features: 

  • 33% protein on a dry matter basis
  • Non-GMO
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight

Cost: $11 to $27

Products You May Be Interested In:

Lauren Corona