How to Fatten up a Cat

Updated on August 30, 2011
M.P. asks from Asheville, NC
14 answers

My 14 year old cat was really sick recently with an infection. The vet put him on two rounds of antibiotics, which took care of the infection. However, he lost a lot of weight and just hasn't been himself lately, which is understandable. What can I give him to fatten him back up? I have heard someone say put olive oil in his food and others say cheese. I have heard that kitten food works too. If he were a younger cat, I would just let him fatten back up on his own, but the weight gain seems slow for him now that he's older. His teeth are bad and many have been pulled, so dry food is difficult for him. Advice on getting him fat and happy again?

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answers from Raleigh on

Classic Fancy Feast is about the safest cat food, I have found, for my cat who has a reduced immune system. There are 3 fish flavors she tolerates quite well. Also, you might want to consider some probiotics since he has had antibiotics, to repopulate the good bacteria. There are cat versions, but if they are expensive you can see if you can find a human version with the same ingredients and use that instead. Are his bowel movements good, do you think he has trapped gas? If so, he would be in pain and won't eat much because of that. A few drops of mylicon (or non-name brand of simethicone) into his mouth would help him to release any trapped gas. Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

I'll give you my vet tech advice. You really need to be careful in what you feed an older guy like this. Kitten food is higher in some things that could cause him some other health issues and table food is not something you want to go tinkering with. Some diarrhea would be awful for you and cause dehydration in your cat. Not a biggie in a young healthy cat but something that can turn quite serious quickly in an older kitty. Always irritates me when I see cats on TV drinking milk in a bowl or playing with string. You'd be surprised how many sick kitties I've seen that can not process the protein in cow products or have swallowed string and required emergency surgery. Alot of myths out there is my point. Older cats do tend to be on the light weight side and some can look quite unthrifty and thin but are fine as long as they are not losing too much too quickly. Also sometimes it takes a lot out of a cat this age when he's been sick and they can go downhill fast. I would suggest having his weight monitored by your vet every few weeks so to know he's not losing and have them advise you on if and what you would need to give him for his weight loss.
Best Regards,

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answers from Detroit on

Most veterinarians carry special diets (usually canned) that are "nutritional recovery" diets, so they are higher in calories, fat, etc. and very soft and easy to eat or mix with water if necessary. I would discuss this with your veterinarian though first, to make sure it's the right thing to do and there isn't something else going on. At that age, it is common for them to start having other health issues, like kidney failure, that cause weight loss and other diagnostics, like bloodwork, may be indicated.

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answers from Houston on

Diary is bad for cats, do not give cheese. Your vet can prescribe a good food for him that is calorie packed, Science Diets offer a variety of prescription foods for this very purpose. Dry food is fine, just a little water and heat it up for a few seconds and stir. It will make it moist and a little soggy. Kitten food can work if your cat does not have impaired kidney function, although kitten food has higher calorie content, seniors like yours require reduced levels of heavy metals as this can ruin their kidney function. Kitten food can cause renal failure and the link in an older cat.

Choose cat food that list a recognizable protein source as first ingredient ie chicken, beef, lamb, fish, etc and never settle for by products (corn, wheat, hooves).

A little bit of tuna a few times a week mixed in is food may help, but do not give too much due to it being harder to digest and it's metallic content.

An older cat that has a propensity to lose weight probably isn't a candidate for a senior diet (b/c those have reduced calories for overweight cats). Rather, a more rational switch may be from a maintenance food to one even higher in calories and nutrients such as an all life stages product.

Lots of great advice here on caring for senior cats:

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would really talk to your vet about the right suggestions for YOUR cat after the recent health issues. Our older cat (now shes 12), lost 2 pounds with a minor illness a few years ago, which may not sound like much, but for her of course it was 20% of her weight. Our Vet gave us some ideas for her. Most of it was to entice her to eat and it was a this vs that sort of thing. She was not eating AT it was better to get her to eat , say, dairy (yogurt..she loves to hear that little foil wrapper being ripped off and will eat a few tablespoons at any time)...and her other fave? Arbys Roast beef...go figure!. So those thigs got mixed (as in blended..gross) into her dry normal cat food to entice her simply to eat again. It worked and the natural course of time. She gained about a pound back and that is her new norm.

Our other adopted cat (we got her a year ago). Forget about it. Shes 14 pounds if shes an ounce....we tried the diet kitty food, measuring the food, etc. She was pathetic (Meow..meow..MEOW) and we were weak. We don't care if shes a fat fat cat. Its part of her charm and why we adopted her (and no one else for them cuz shes a fantastic cat!). Just one more lesson to (my overweight) teen that you can not judge a book by its cover!!!

I hope your kitty is feeling better and you find a way to fatten it up a bit!



answers from Cleveland on

Sorry about your cat. How about tuna? Most cats love it, and maybe even putting the water from the can on his regular food would help.

Unfortunately, we have the opposite problem, and our cat is on a diet. We have to get him to lose 4 lbs! So far, he's only lost 4 ounces! : ) Oh, dear.......



answers from Johnson City on

Ask your vet... there is a product available that is a food supplement. We used it for our puppy when we first brought her home because she was so little (2pounds). It's a tube of molasses consistency stuff that has lots of vitamins and stuff the cat or dog needs. I think the brand of the one we get is Supplical.

As for the teeth problem... put warm water with this supplement in it mixed with your cats dry food to make it moist. We did that with our puppy until her adult teeth came in.


answers from Tampa on

kitten food with vitamin paste



answers from Dallas on

This is really something a vet should be giving advice for. Kitten food can be terribly unhealthy for an older cat and cause a host of medical problems and cam be hard on renal function, not to mention loose stools. There are many prescription foods for specific dietary needs. Have they checked his thryroid? And if you vet is not working with you on dietary advice then you need to find a new one. The weight may not be easy to get back at that age and in his condition.

Good luck I know it is hard watching them age.



answers from Memphis on

So Sorry to hear about your kitty, we lost one last summer to the same thing, she just couldn't gain weight anymore and was slowly starving to death. I went to Hollywood Feed and got kitten milk, she wouldn't drink it, I gave her salmon like for people, and she would eat it, but the vet said that it didn't have enough nutrients to sustain her. I looked up everything on the internet, technically cats don't need any more vegetables than you would find in a mouse's stomach!! Ugh! but makes since. I bought this tube of "calories" that I squeezed on her food, got it at Petco. I feed her anything she would eat. But if you really research the ingredients and the problem with cats not gaining weight, the cheap stuff Little Friskies "special diet" food is the best, it has really low sulfites, research it, lots of people have this problem with older cats that have had an illness. We eventually had to have our baby put to sleep, I cried for days and my husband hasn't gotten over it yet. Good luck



answers from Los Angeles on

Sorry, i'm being silly, but when I read the title of your post, the first thoughts into my head were, 'for Christmas Dinner?'. Yes, juvenile aren't I?

My cat is older and loves sloppy tinned food, prawns and fresh fish. He will eat it all day long.



answers from Santa Barbara on

Jo is totally right...kitten food! It is meant for growing bodies. Good luck!


answers from St. Louis on

Moist kitten food is the best thing possible. You are worried about his health so people food is out of the question. In human terms it would be the difference between fattening up with twinkies or beef. One is going to build fat the other is going to build muscle, or one is healthy the other is just not.

Kitten food is made to build cats. It has the most calories and the most of everything. It really is the only safe way to add fat to a cat.

Either that or you can come to my house and see if you can do a fat transplant from my cat cause he looks at food and gains weight. :(



answers from Chicago on

Kitten food. We got a kitten and our older cat LOVED the kitten food. We left out the dry food for the kitten. Our older cat ate it, and I noticed a weight gain!!

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