6 Best High Protein Cat Food in 2021

high protein cat food

A feline’s natural diet is full of protein. We look at why cats need protein, how much protein they need and the benefits of a high-protein diet. We also discuss what to look for in a high-protein diet. 

We’ll then review our selection for the six best high-protein cat foods for 2021, which are:

Why Do Cats Need Protein? 

All felines, whether wild or domesticated, need an abundance of protein for overall health. There are two types of protein found in cat food; plant protein and animal protein. 

Cats are obligate carnivores—their natural prey in the wild is small mammals and birds—making animal protein their primary energy source. 

They require valuable nutrients such as taurine and arginine that are only obtainable from animal tissue. There are also specific vitamins that cats need to obtain from protein because they can’t synthesize them.

Amino acids

Amino acids are organic compounds often referred to as the building blocks of protein. Twenty-three amino acids make up protein, 12 are non-essential for our felines. The essential amino acids are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, taurine, and valine. 

Most animals require nine essential amino acids because they can synthesize taurine and arginine. Unfortunately, cats are unable to synthesize taurine and arginine.

Taurine is only obtainable from animal proteins, promoting healthy digestion, eye, heart, and immune system. Taurine supports the prenatal and postnatal growth of kittens. Taurine deficiencies can lead to; retinal deterioration resulting in blindness, deafness, dilated cardiomyopathy, and digestive issues.

Arginine is present in beans, whole grains, soy, dairy, and animal-based proteins. During the digestive process, protein is broken down and produces waste products such as ammonia. Arginine helps create the enzymes needed by the liver to get rid of ammonia. Deficiencies in arginine can result in a buildup of ammonia that may cause ammonia toxicity. 


Vitamins are an essential part of a feline diet. Vitamin deficiencies can cause health issues, which we would all prefer to avoid. There are vitamins that cats are incapable of producing; niacin, vitamin A, and vitamin D. These need to be provided in their diet. 

Niacin/vitamin B3 is attainable from meat, fish, and dairy. It can also be produced in the body by tryptophan, an amino acid found in protein. Cats deficient in niacin can lose weight rapidly.

Vitamin A is naturally present in meat, fish, and dairy, essential for healthy vision and skin. Cats can’t synthesize vitamin A, so it is crucial to include it in their diet. Vitamin A deficiency can cause skin issues and loss of night vision.

Vitamin D can be obtained naturally from beef, liver, fish, egg yolks, and dairy. Cats do not absorb vitamin D from the sunlight as humans do, so they need it in their diet. Vitamin D helps to support muscle function, nerve function, growth, and development. Vitamin D deficiency can result in heart failure.

How Much Protein Does My Cat Need?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets nutritional guidelines for manufacturers to follow. The minimum level of crude protein is set at 26 percent for an adult cat on a dry matter basis. Minimum levels of crude protein for a kitten are 30 percent. 

The guidelines set by the AAFCO are minimum requirements, with no upper limits. Evidence suggests protein requirements set for adult cats by the AAFCO are insufficient for optimal lean body mass. High-protein cat food should contain at least 30 percent protein. 

If you want to know how much crude protein is in your cat’s diet, it should state on the packaging. However, most manufacturers include moisture content when declaring crude protein. To check the percentage against AAFCO guidelines, it will need to be converting to dry matter content.  A calculator like this will help. 

What Are the Benefits of a High Protein Diet?

Cats naturally consume mice and other small animals that provide adequate amounts of fat and protein needed in their diet. The stomach contents of a prey animal contain small amounts of carbohydrates which is all a cat needs. Providing a diet that reflects their natural one is key to owning a healthy, happy feline.

The digestive system of a cat is very efficient at processing protein. Diets that are low in protein tend to contain more carbohydrates. Cats struggle to digest carbohydrates because they lack the enzyme needed to break them down.

High protein diets are beneficial for diabetic cats and cats at risk of developing feline diabetes. A study in 2013 found that low carbohydrate diets provided better glucose control and increased remission rates in cats. 

Senior cats can benefit from a diet high in protein as digestion efficiency deteriorates. However, high amounts of protein can have adverse effects on seniors suffering from urination issues.

Some argue that felines feel full quicker when consuming a high-protein diet. This feeling of fulfillment is said to help prevent obesity

Being the pet lovers we are, I’m sure we want our furry friends to enjoy the meals we provide them. Tim Watson discussed how felines show preferences for foods that contain sufficient amounts of amino acids found in protein.


What to Look For in a High-Protein Cat Food

  • Content: Check for a protein content higher than 30 percent.
  • Quality: Make sure real meat is the first ingredient
  • Complete and balanced: Check that the nutritional value of the food meets guidelines set by the AAFCO. Complete and balanced means the food contains all the nutrients needed in the correct ratio.
  • Natural Ingredients: Avoid artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors: Some commonly used artificial preservatives have been linked to health concerns such as allergic reactions and carcinogenic properties.
  • Fatty acids: Check the product for essential fatty acids omega-3 and -6. These help keep your feline’s skin and coat in optimal condition. Cats can’t synthesize these fatty acids. To benefit from them, they need them in their diet.

6 Best High Protein Cat Food Reviews


CRAVE high-protein cat food provides complete and balanced nutrition for your adult cat. There’s a choice between three great protein flavors, including chicken, salmon, and ocean fish. This tasty kibble is available in two, four, and 10-pound resealable bags to keep the taste and freshness locked in.

CRAVE is free from artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, and grain, so it is less likely to cause allergies and digestive issues. This recipe is based on primal, ancestral diets full of natural ingredients that support digestive health and immunity—also containing omega-6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat.

Real meat or fish is the number one ingredient in this protein-rich diet, giving your cat a flavor they’ll crave. The high-protein formula offers a minimum crude protein content of 40 percent. 

Overall, consumers say their felines have more energy, and they look healthier overall when eating this in their diet. However, some reviewers say it made their cats sick.


  • Complete and balanced.
  • High protein content.
  • High-quality protein.
  • Contains omega-6.
  • Free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.


  • Makes some cats sick.

Purina Beyond Wild

Purina Beyond Wild is a complete and balanced prey-inspired wet diet for your adult feline. It’s high in hydration and free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. Available in 3-ounce cans with the option of delicious salmon, liver, and arctic char or turkey, liver, quail flavor.

This grain-free recipe contains multiple animal protein sources, alongside animal organs to create a nutrient-rich diet. 

The first two ingredients are always real whole meat or fish, making this high protein formula ideal for maintaining overall health. Fish protein is an excellent source of omega-3 that keeps the skin and coat of your cat in prime condition. 

This fantastic feast is affordable and a clear cat favorite, but some customers would like to see larger cans available. The salmon recipe is an exceptionally huge hit with felines. However, the turkey, liver, and quail flavors don’t appeal to some cats.


  • High protein content.
  • High-quality protein.
  • High moisture content.
  • Affordable. 
  • Complete and balanced.
  • Contains omega-3.
  • Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.


  • Only available in 3-ounce cans.
  • Some cats won’t eat the turkey, liver, and quail flavor.

Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild is complete and balanced nutrition developed to suit all life stages of your cat. There is a wide variety of flavors to tantalize your cat’s tastebuds, including venison, duck, quail, smoked salmon, and trout. This grain-free formula is available in five or 14-pound bags, all free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

This flavorsome kibble contains optimal levels of omega-3 and -6 that work together to nourish your cat’s skin and coat. It also contains proprietary probiotics to aid gut health. 

Real meat is the main ingredient in this diet, followed by highly digestible carbohydrates like sweet potatoes. Protein content differs depending on flavor, ranging from 35.5 to 46.6 percent on a dry matter basis. 

Consumers rate this kibble highly, and cats love the taste. Several customers stated that it makes their feline sick. However, it’s worth noting that these negative reviews are close in date, a bad batch, maybe?


  • Complete and balanced.
  • High-protein content.
  • High-quality protein.
  • Contains omega-3 and-6.
  • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.


  • Made some cats sick.

Solid Gold – Indigo Moon

Solid Gold Indigo Moon is available in bags ranging from three to 12-pounds. There’s a choice between chicken or Alaskan pollock, delicious flavors that are sure to get your cat’s whiskers twitching. Its complete and balanced nutrition is suitable for all life stages of your furry companion.

The first ingredient in this protein-rich food is fish or chicken meal, which are rendered skin, flesh, and bone. Meat meals are high in protein but also risk adding excess calcium to the diet. The overall protein content is a minimum of 46.6 percent on a dry matter basis. 

This tasty dish is full of omega-3 and -6 from fish meal, Alaskan pollock, and salmon oil. It also contains prebiotics combined with probiotics to obtain optimal gut health. There are no artificial preservatives or grains, great for sensitive skin and stomach.

Even the fussiest of felines enjoy this paw licking recipe. However, some consumers have said it causes vomiting.


  • Added prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Complete and balanced.
  • Contains omega-3 and -6.
  • No artificial preservatives.
  • High protein content.


  • Made some cats sick.
  • First ingredient is meat meal.

Orijen Cat & Kitten

Orijen is an award-winning “biologically appropriate” cat food that’s nutritionally complete and balanced for all life stages of your cat. Available in 4-pound and 12-pound resealable bags to keep the kibble flavorful and fresh

The ingredients in this food are all-natural. Number one is deboned chicken. It also includes animal organs and other great-quality proteins such as turkey and egg. This is an all-natural diet containing 90 percent animal proteins. 

Omega-3 and -6 are sourced from pumpkin seeds, Atlantic mackerel, and herring, with no synthetic additives in sight. The ingredients in this kibble are amazing! However, some consumers find it makes their cats sick. The majority of customers describe this great food as expensive but worth it.


  • Complete and balanced.
  • High protein content.
  • High-quality protein
  • Excellent ingredients.
  • Contains omega-3 and -6.
  • No artificial ingredients.


  • Expensive.
  • Doesn’t suit all cats.

Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK

Rachael Ray Nutrish Peak is a grain-free, nutritionally complete, and balanced diet for all life stages of your cat. It’s protein-rich to satisfy their instinctual cravings and is available in 2-ounce cups with easy-peel lids.

This highly hydrating wet food is full of natural ingredients, while being grain and gluten-free, and number one is cuts of chicken in the chicken and trout recipe.

Omega-3 sourced from trout prevents shedding and keeps skin in good health. This protein-packed diet has a minimum of 50 percent protein on a dry matter basis, the highest on our list.

Overall Nutrish PEAK is quality food with fantastic ingredients. However, we’re limited to a 2-ounce cup size, and it isn’t cheap. The majority of consumers say their cats love this food, although some refuse to eat it. I guess you can’t please every feline.  


  • Complete and balanced.
  • Protein-rich. 
  • High-protein content.
  • Contains omega-3
  • All-natural ingredients.


  • Limited to 2-ounce cup size.
  • Expensive. 
  • Some cats refuse to eat it.


Can I feed my cat raw meat?

Some people argue that we shouldn’t give our pets raw meat because it’s susceptible to parasites and bacteria. Others say felines are naturally inclined to eat raw meat as they’ve hunted mice and rats for years. If you wish to feed your cat on a raw diet, discuss this with your vet and only feed human-grade products.

Final Verdict

When looking for high-protein pet food, we need to look at quality as well as quantity. The clear winner based on the quality of the ingredients and protein content is Orijen cat & kitten. It’s always a good sign when you can pronounce the ingredients on the label, and Orijen’s label is an easy read. Although, the price tag is eye-wateringly high.

On a budget? No problem, Taste of the Wild provides a great range of flavors from great ingredients to keep your cat interested. If it’s wet food you want, Purina Beyond Wild also comes in great flavors. The first two ingredients are always real meat, just what our carnivorous companions need.

Olivia Davis

Olivia is the editor-in-chief at Cat Food Tip. She's in charge of making sure that every post is up to standards and contains accurate information that's comprehendable and fun for readers.

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