High fat food for cats?
January 20, 2012 8:42 PM   Subscribe

What can we feed our cat to help him gain weight?

We have two cats, about 12 years old, Molly and Pepper. After a Molly had a bout with pancreatitis, they've both been eating Prescription Diet i/d cat food. They're free feeders on the dry food, and we put out canned food morning and evening. Neither has ever overeaten, and Molly has always been a healthy weight, but Pepper's been losing weight. He was at the vet this week and had a full blood panel done and he's otherwise healthy: no diabetes, no hyperthyroidism, none of the usual suspects. The vet suggested we feed him regular Science Diet maintenance cat food to see if the higher fat content will help him gain some weight, but he doesn't like it and won't eat it.

Are there high-calorie, super-yummy, but otherwise healthy treats, we can give Pepper to supplement the Prescription Diet i/d? The feline version of avocados and brazil nuts?
posted by angiep to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Baby food.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:44 PM on January 20, 2012

Tiki Cat brand wet food is like kitty crack, and quite good for them too. Mine especially love this sardine flavor.
posted by vorfeed at 8:48 PM on January 20, 2012

Friends of mine who had to do this used a food formulated for kittens. I would check with your vet first, though.
posted by corey flood at 8:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The feline version of avocados and brazil nuts is organ meat. Hearts, livers, and gizzards. They'll eat them raw, but you may prefer to cook them.

You may want to ask your vet about feline-friendly fish oil, as well. We got some for one of our dogs with itchy allergies and it really did wonders for her skin dryness. Smelled like holy hell, but she liked it drizzled over her food.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

My vet recommended as many treats as my cat will eat, and supplementing with a little kitten food. Apparently it's higher in calories, but can cause diarrhea if elder cats eat too much of it. He also recommended mildly warming up the canned food in the microwave (especially if you refrigerate partially used cans) because the smell will be stronger and more appealing to the cat.
posted by vytae at 8:58 PM on January 20, 2012

Some meats are higher in fat content than others too. If you can find duck-meat cat foods, that will have a higher fat content than say chicken or fish-based foods.

You can also find calorie, fat and protein content info on the websites of most of the food manufacturers and also websites that sell cat food. You can compare to figure which flavor of the foods is higher fat. Another one to try is raw eggs, particularly the yolks. Additional treat foods don't have to be particularly high calorie, just more good quality food will help.

You may find it helpful to look up information on cats with kidney issues, since they tend to lose weight and appetite, so many people need to find ways to get them to eat more.
posted by Joh at 8:59 PM on January 20, 2012

Kitten food mixed with the freshpet wet food.
posted by notsnot at 9:03 PM on January 20, 2012

Ask your vet about Hills' Prescription Diet a/d. It is designed for feeding to critically ill pets, so it is super nutritionally dense and, apparently, delicious.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:06 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

When my cat had late stages of kidney disease, I fed her plain old butter off of my finger almost daily. The vet said he was amazed she gained weight in her condition (a couple of ounces gained), and that she looked very well considering. She sure enjoyed eating it.
posted by Listener at 9:07 PM on January 20, 2012

Raw chicken fat. Actually, the fat trimmings from any meat you cook.
posted by lollusc at 9:11 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are there high-calorie, super-yummy, but otherwise healthy treats...
First, a very important question for your cat with pancreatitis: is he given any enzyme supplements? If not, that might explain why he can't gain weight.

Now some god foods:

Beef marrow: roast beef soup bones in the oven. Place the warm marrow/fat in a glass container. It will keep for a long time. Keep in the fridge. Warm a tablespoon on the stove and mix with your cat food whenever you feed your cats).

Sardines canned in water. Best if you can find a brand that has the head, spines, and guts. Bones and guts are very good for cats. Unfortunately, not many brands do nowadays. Do not feed sardines too often, since they come already cooked. However, if you can supplement taurine, this shouldn't be a problem.

You can make chicken bone stock (with NO vegetables, just bones, cartilage, and skin. NO salt. ). If your cats will drink it warm, you could use that instead of their water for them to drink.

Raw chicken bones (just the soft ones that snap easily, not strong ones like the legs)

Do not feed vegetables. Cats are obligate carnivorous. Unfortunately, most cat food has grains and vegetables in it.
posted by midnightmoonlight at 9:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, egg yolks.
posted by midnightmoonlight at 9:16 PM on January 20, 2012

Kitten glop seems to be popular for kittens and aging cats among cat breeders.
posted by JujuB at 9:34 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Humans with pancreatitis are advised not to have a lot of fatty meals, you should ask your vet what is appropriate.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:43 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would be very wary of Hills. There is some speculation as to whether the compensation vets receive from Hills unduly influences their recommendations.

My cat was on Hills j/d for a while upon the vet's suggestion. It did not agree with her at all. I find thatmy cat enjoys the high in protein Wellness food. And you could throw in some dried too. In all cases, make sure it's good quality ie not loaded with filler or carbs.
posted by NailsTheCat at 10:23 PM on January 20, 2012

Definitely check with the vet what exact kind of food is appropriate before adding things to his diet. Feline nutrition is weird, they shouldn't have any carbohydrates at all and only eat fat and protein, and the pancreatitis can definitely change what they should eat.

That said, when my cat with advanced liver disease was losing weight like crazy we gave him raw chicken skins. That big, white piece of fat-lined skin that we peeled off chicken legs and suchlike (so it was basically an easy, non-messy way to give him concentrated chicken fat). He had little appetite but scarfed this stuff down, and it did help keep on some weight and condition. Given your vet has recommended food with higher fat content this is likely to be OK, although it's pretty concentrated so check.

Otherwise kitten food is designed to be higher calorie than adult cat food, and so is some 'mature cat' food. The overall nutrient balance can be different though, so check which ones are appropriate.

We also feed ours the Hills teeth cleaning biscuits and were warned by our vet to be careful with portions because it's notorious for making cats fat (the individual pieces are bigger so it's easy to overfeed them). We've noticed that this is true, adding a small a mount too much makes my cats put on weight, and that the cats like it more than the standard Hills adult cat food. I think they find the bigger bits easier or more satisfying to eat, although it may be the flavour too. So that's something else you could try instead.
posted by shelleycat at 2:13 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do not feed vegetables.

Mmm, though the main exception to this is pumpkin. (Plain canned pumpkin is what you use for cats with diarrhea; it slows everything down, being high fiber, and when cats are losing weight, that can be helpful to keep food in their system longer.)

There's a lot of great suggestions in here. I'm not really a fan of the prescription I/D, though the canned isn't BAD or anything (though, you know, the fifth ingredient is corn flour). It's time to toss Pepper, at least, some "human food." (Or, perhaps, Weruva.) Most of the time I'll pick up an organic roasted chicken at Whole Foods, eat most of the skin myself (I KNOW, GROSS) and feed the cats the white and dark meat for a few days.

When digging around for human food for cats, you definitely should not feed cats food (or milk) with vitamin D. (So, for instance, fish oils are good, but cod liver oil can be dicey.) Things I've fed the cats include yogurt, heavy cream, butter (I know, not exactly a natural diet, probably not great for their arteries and things, but fat is fat), chicken, beef, fish, sardines, and this really gross "weight gain" gloopy stuff that has basically a number-one ingredient of "corn syrup," sigh.

But people above have the basics right: cooked egg yolks, chicken stock and chicken, and organ meat: livers, kidneys, etc. Some of this stuff may be contraindicated for Molly, but it makes sense that they have different medical issues and will have different dietary requirements. Annoying to be sure, but hey.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:51 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all these suggestions. Please note that Pepper, who needs to gain weight, is NOT the cat who had pancreatitis. We're keeping the low fat food for Molly, but need to supplement Pepper's diet with some high calorie treats. I'll certainly try some of your suggestions to see what he likes: baby food meats, egg yolks, fatty meats. We check in with the vet in about three weeks for follow up and I'll ask about some kitten food and the Hill's a/d.

Thanks all!
posted by angiep at 12:59 PM on January 21, 2012

When feeding baby food or chicken stock, be sure that you only feed products that do NOT have onion, garlic, or onion powder/garlic powder. Onions and garlic are toxic to cats. Be sure to check the labels.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:35 PM on January 21, 2012

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