10 Great Appetite Stimulants for Cats Compared & Reviewed

Here you’ll find out what the best appetite stimulant for cats is, especially if you have little to no time on your hands. After carefully examining the quality and value offered by some of the critically acclaimed products in this line, our team has come to the conclusion that Nutri-Cal by Vetoquinol is the one you should consider. What made this product top of our recommendations is because it packs the most number of vitamins and minerals out of all the products reviewed on this list. Nutri-Cal also contains omega fatty acids for your pet’s coat health—added ingredients that are rare in similar products. Best of all, you can use it in a mixed pet household as it is suitable for cats and dogs of all ages. In the unfortunate event that Vetoquinol Nutri-Cal is unavailable, you may want to bear the Hartz Delectables Lickable Wet Cat Treats in mind. 

RecommendationNotable mentions
Vetoquinol Nutri-Cal High CalorieNutritional gel with calories and vitamins
Hartz Delectables Lickable Wet Cat Treats Easy to feed to kittens, adults, and seniors
Lexelium Weight Gainer for Dogs and CatsCan be used as a topper or mixed with wet food

Best Appetite Stimulant for Cats (Reviews) – Top Rated Choices & Buying Guide


We narrowed down your selection with these top reviews of appetite stimulants for cats that can save the lives of cats suffering from weight loss due to malnutrition, stress, recovery from illness, post-surgery, abandonment, and more. Spend less time worrying about which product to give your cat or kitten and more time bringing your feline friend back to a healthy weight.

1. Vetoquinol NutriCal

NutriCal (4.25 oz paste) by VETOQUINOL

Nutri-Cal comes in a handy 4.25 oz tube for on-the-go feeding during trips, hunting, and while in transit. More than making sure your feline friend is eating while you’re on the road, this high energy, calorie-dense nutritional supplement ensures your cat gets optimal nutrition that will boost its energy. 

One teaspoon of Nutri-Cal can be mixed in food, syringe-fed, licked from the cat owner’s finger, or given straight from the tube. Each serving is packed with protein, water, and fat along with minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium. The brown gel also packs B-vitamins and Folic Acid to ensure proper absorption of nutrients.

Note that the supplement contains corn syrup, soybean oil, and malt syrup. It also has fish oil which has Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9 that acts as an anti-inflammatory ingredient that promotes healthy skin and coat. Satisfied customers used the supplement for rescues, elderly cats, kittens, and cats recovering from illness.

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2. Hartz Delectables Lickable Wet Cat Treats Bisque

Delectables Bisque Senior 15 Years + Lickable Wet Cat Treats , Tuna & Chicken, 12 Pack

For those of you struggling to feed your cat and get it to drink water, this tasty gravy treat is one you should consider. Cats with dental issues and feeding problems will not turn their noses up when served this delectable treat. It has a creamy consistency of tuna and chicken without chunks making it easy for senior cats to eat.

Delectables Bisque comes in an easy open package with one meal in each pack. Do note that even though bisque is tasty, it is not formulated to be a complete cat food for daily intake. It is only for supplemental or intermittent feeding to ensure your cat will resume eating a healthy diet.

Each pack contains 90% moisture, potassium, thiamine vitamins E and B12. It also has protein, fiber, and probiotics. Hartz advertised the product as beneficial for aging cats and cats with kidney and digestive system problems as the treat is easily digestible.

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3. Lexelium Growth Boosting System

Lexelium Weight Gainer and Appetite Stimulant for Dogs and Cats | 100% Natural Pet Supplement | Helps Add Weight, Stimulate Appetite, and Build Muscle | Helps Pets with Protein | No Toxic Ingredients

The Lexelium appetite stimulant comes in a powder formulation with L-Taurine which is an essential amino acid for a feline’s vision, digestion, and immune system. Siberian ginseng extract is one of the major ingredients which acts as an appetite booster and immune system booster. 

One scoop of this powder contains beef muscle hydrolysate that is mixed in cat food to help cats and dogs gain weight and muscle. The powder can be mixed in wet or dry food. It is ideal for kittens and pups, in particular runt of the litter kitties. It is also for show pets and malnourished pets. 

Not that the product contains corn starch, sprouted wheat, and yeast extract, which helps in palatability but may cause allergies in some felines. Also, most reviewers gave the formulation to kittens and young adult cats. For senior cats or a cat that does not eat, opt for a different supplement. The product comes with a 30-day full refund guarantee.

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4. Cat-Man-Doo Extra Large Dried Bonito Flakes

Cat-Man-Doo Extra Large Dried Bonito Flakes Treats for Dogs & Cats - All Natural High Protein Flakes - 4oz. / 112g Bag

Bonito flakes is often used in Japanese cuisine to add flavor to broths. Bonito fish, also known as smoked skipjack tuna is captured in the Pacific Ocean. It is then dried, fermented, and smoked. Bonito has natural fish oils that are good for a healthy urinary tract and a healthy coat in cats. Bonito flakes also helps minimize hair balls buildup.

Bonito flakes are paper-thin and smells strongly of tasty fish. These are all natural dried bonito with no additives or preservatives. It is high in protein and contains zero carbs. This treat can be added to food to stimulate feline appetite. Most reviewers added it in dry food while other cats will devour it even in wet food.

The tasty treat can also be given to cats as is. Avoid overfeeding your cat with bonito flakes as there are concerns over mercury levels, rather give it as a treat or added to food as an appetite stimulant.

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5. Well & Good Vitamin Paste for Cats & Kittens

Well & Good Cat & Kitten Vitamin Paste, 5 oz.

This palatable paste contains multi-vitamins and minerals for our feline friends. It is specially formulated for the nourishment of active cats and kittens. If you are worried that your active cats are not eating enough, especially when they lose weight due to their level of activity, this supplement should do the trick.

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A cat owner noted that it helped with hairball issues and constipation. As for its flavor, the multi-vitamin paste contains cod liver oil and salmon oil making it palatable even to cats that have lost their appetite. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are also included in the formulation.

The paste contains minimal protein as it is not meant as a food substitute but as a supplement to the daily nutrient needs of our cats. Cat parents can opt to mix this in food as a source of folic acid, potassium, B vitamins, riboflavin, and iodine, among others.

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6. Under the Weather Ready Cal High Calorie Food Supplement for Cats

Under the Weather Pets | Ready Cal for Cats 3.5oz | High Calorie Nutritional Supplement for Weight Gain | 9 Vitamins, 7 Minerals, Fatty Acids | Palatable Natural Fish & Malt Flavor | Cats Not Eating |

This gel supplement utilizes malt syrup and salmon oil to entice felines that lose their appetite when sick. It contains iron and iodine along with other minerals and vitamins like folic acid as well as Omega 3 and Omega 6. Ready Cal comes with a dial dose for easy syringe-feeding and accurate dosage. It also makes for no-mess administration.

The high calorie nutritional supplement is suitable for cats that are not getting enough nutrition in their food due to stress, anxiety, and medical conditions. Reviewers used it to supplement the diet of their sick cats, finicky eaters, weak cats, and elderly cats.

Syringe-fed formulation is suitable for cats that do not have an appetite, eat too little, or don’t eat at all. To avoid drastic weight loss, your veterinarian may recommend an appetite stimulant like Ready Cal because it doesn’t have to be mixed in food and helps cats gain weight fast and become energized.

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7. Mark & Chappell VETIQ Nutri-Vit Plus Vitamin Energiser

Mark & Chappell Nurish-UM Paste for Cats, 2.4-Ounce

Cats will be finicky even with their choice of appetite stimulants. With gel or paste formulations like Nutri-Vit, cat owners can simply smear the paste on their mouth so their cat can lick it clean and get the nourishment it needs. Hungry cats used to its taste will eat it in combination with their food or directly from the tube.

One good thing about this product is that it contains taurine which is lacking in most commercial cat food. This mineral is essential for cat vision and preventing blindness. Nutri-Vit can be used to supplement kittens from 6 weeks old up to senior cats. 

Several reviewers gave this to cats that have hyperthyroid disease, hairball issues, and the like. Most said it revived their weak or sickly cats. Nutri-Vit contains cod liver oil, malt syrup, and glycerine along with other preservatives and emulsifiers. It does have vitamins A, B, D, E, and folic acid.

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8. TNT Interactive Virbac Nutri-plus gel

TNT interactive Virbac Nutri-Plus Gel Nutritional High Calorie Energy Supplement with 5 ML Hand Feeding Syringe

The Nutri-plus gel is advertised as safe for pregnant and lactating queens. Folic acid and iron are among its added vitamins and minerals to support kitten health in the womb as well as for growing kittens. It supports the dietary needs of both the queen and her litter.

It is also suitable for supplementing the diet of senior cats that suffer medical problems, recently underwent surgery, and reduced appetite. The product is formulated for cats and dogs alike so you can use it in a multiple pet household. Nutri-plus also helps in skin and coat maintenance.

The 4 oz tube also comes with a 5ml syringe for ease of administration at each feeding although some customers give this formula to cats directly from the tube or mixed with their food. Nutriplus gel also packs animal origin nutrients that converts to energy faster than plant carbohydrates. It also has liver extract to boost palatability.

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9. Virbac Rebound Recuperation Formula for Cats

Rebound Recuperation Formula Feline - 150 ml (5.1 fl oz)

Rebound is a liquid formula given to kittens and cats that are recuperating from medical maladies. A 5 oz bottle will last up to one week in the fridge. This should be enough time to supplement your sick or weakened cat until they can return to their regular diet. Your cat may need to be syringe-fed with this formula while it recuperates.

Rebound packs animal protein source in the form of poultry broth, spray dried chicken liver, and poultry fat. It does contain ingredients of concern like modified corn starch, guar gum, xanthan gum, and rapeseed oil which is essentially canola oil. Still, keep in mind that this is for intermittent feeding only.

Most important is the nutrients it packs for recuperation. Rebound has Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, glutamine, arginine, lysine, and prebiotics. It also has traces of taurine. Rebound promotes eating as well as drinking while boosting immune function.

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10. Abbott CliniCare Feline Liquid Diet

Clinicare Feline Liquid Renal Care - 8oz

Syringe-feeding is one of the ways you can supplement your cat’s diet when it becomes extremely finicky, anorexic, sick, and rescue cats. It also helps in feeding cats that lose their teeth. An 8 oz can will last up to a week in the fridge but your cat should be able to consume its contents in one to two feedings.

The product is quite costly so it is optimal only as a short-term solution to a cat’s feeding problems. Taking a look at its contents, it has 82% moisture content, delicious turkey flavor, protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Some ingredients that caught our eye are folic acid, taurine, folic acid, sardine oil, and ferrous sulfate. 

It should be noted that the product contains corn maltodextrin and canola oil. For health preservation, it contains whey protein concentrate. Also, as the product is costly, many use the liquid formula in combination with other appetite stimulants.

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Appetite Stimulant for Cats – Buying Guide 

Anorexia is the medical term for lack of appetite for food which happens in cats too. There are various reasons why our cats develop a distaste for food. These include stress, anxiety, an underlying medical condition like kidney disease or a digestive problem. It is vital that you consult your vet to treat the cause of a lack of appetite.

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If your cat is eating but decreased its consumption, your cat could be dealing with partial anorexia. Pseudo anorexia is not really a lack of appetite but are caused by other things which include dental pain, unpalatable food, or environmental problems. In a multiple household, the runt of the litter is often bullied by larger cats.

The problem is when your cat is not eating anything at all which is the case with true anorexia. Cats can survive up to two weeks without food or up to 72 hours without water. Sick cats, elderly felines, and kittens won’t last that long. If your cat has not eaten for 24 hours, check with your vet on how to stimulate a cat’s appetite naturally or with medication or assisted feeding. 

Cat-Man-Doo Extra Large Dried Bonito Flakes Treats for Dogs & Cats - All Natural High Protein Flakes - 4oz. / 112g Bag

What Happens When Cats Don’t Eat

Refusal to eat a regular healthy diet can quickly result in protein malnourishment and high acid and phosphorus levels that can cause stomach discomfort. If the lack of appetite is accompanied by vomiting, hairballs or virus may be behind it. Aside from lethargy, muscle loss, and dehydration, we also worry about our cat getting hepatic lipidosis, a serious liver disorder.

How Appetite Stimulants Can Help

Before anything, keep in mind that appetite stimulants should not be used to deter treatment of the underlying condition. We simply can’t feed Delectables to a cat suffering from dental problems without treating the malady. Likewise, Nutri-Cal can’t treat cancer, kidney disease, and whatever condition your cat is suffering from. 

But, these appetite stimulants help immensely in providing as much nourishment as possible to cats that are too weak or sickly to concern themselves with food. A lack of nourishment leads to more problems and can cause delays in recuperating. Even elderly cats and dying cats were revived and completed their treatments with the help of a good appetite stimulant for cats

Delectables Bisque Senior 15 Years + Lickable Wet Cat Treats , Tuna & Chicken, 12 Pack

How to Choose a Cat Appetite Stimulant

While most of the products reviewed in this list can be bought over the counter, it is advisable to consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause of feeding problems with your feline. You may first switch your cat’s diet from dry food to wet food. Wet cat food will also ensure your cat stays hydrated.

If your cat has a dental issue or digestive problems, you may opt for food with a rich, creamy consistency which will make it easier for your cat to consume and digest. You can also use liquid appetite stimulants when you need to syringe-feed your cat. Still, inducing your cat to voluntarily eat is better than force feeding.

Natural appetite stimulant for cats

Certain flavors are more appetite-stimulating for cats and these include sardine, tuna, seafood, and poultry. Appetite stimulants with a strong fishy odor can help renew a cat’s hunger and appetite for food.

B-vitamins are also common among appetite stimulants for cats as vitamin B supplement can stimulate your cat’s olfactory senses so they will get hungry for their food again. Warming their food also helps to make the food more aromatic to your cat. 

Pharmacological treatment for appetite issues

It is vital to try different natural appetite stimulants before medicating your cat. Your vet may recommend an OTC appetite stimulant with vitamins, minerals, protein, sugar, and fat to stabilize a cat for treatment. Only when deemed necessary should you turn to drugs for your cat. 

Your veterinarian may prescribe cyproheptadine or more commonly known as Periactin to stimulate your cat’s appetite. It is an antihistamine available in tablet, liquid, and gel. What it does is it blocks serotonin in the brain that may result in appetite stimulation.

Delectables Bisque Senior 15 Years + Lickable Wet Cat Treats , Tuna & Chicken, 12 Pack

Benzodiazepines, otherwise marketed as Valium or Diazepam is an antianxiety drug that is given intravenously for appetite stimulation. It does get a cat to eat but your cat may still not get enough nutrient requirements as the effects of valium are often short-lived. Also, Diazepam is known to cause liver disease in some cats.

For a long time, cat owners dealing with full or partial anorexic cats turn to either valium or cyproheptadine to stimulate their cats appetite. In recent years, mirtazapine drug or Remeron has been recommended for the purpose of appetite stimulation in healthy cats. It also helps reduce nausea.

Side Effects of Medication

Like all pharmacological drugs, prescribed appetite stimulants for cats also have adverse effects. Drowsiness is common when using Periactin or Valium. Mirtazapine can cause jitters, over-excitedness, hyperactivity, howling, and muscle twitching in some cats. Other adverse effects include rapid heart rate, high body temperature, and reduced urination.

Far less common is the use of anabolic steroids to increase a cat’s appetite. Stanozolol and nandrolone decanoate are some examples. However, the side effects are more serious than other prescribed appetite stimulants and can result in liver toxicity in cats and may even induce psychiatric side effects.

Assisted Feeding

After presenting your cat with ten different types of food with no luck, you may want to try liquid or gel supplements. Often you can simply rub the gel or paste on your cat’s lips and they will lick it clean. If this does not go well, you will have to use an instrument to get the nutrients into your cat’s body. Here are different ways to do it:

  • Syringe-feeding- You will have to purchase a feeding syringe which has larger and longer openings at the end so you can feed gruel to your cat. If you are having a hard time with large syringes, you can opt for a smaller syringe and give your cat liquid appetite stimulant instead. You also need to be calm and patient when syringe-feeding.

Note: Feed into the side of the mouth and give your cat time to swallow to avoid aspiration pneumonia.

  • Feeding tubes- The device utilized will be implanted into your cat so you can directly give food and water through the tubes. There are various types which include:
    • Oesophageal tube- Your cat will be sedated and the tube is inserted on the neck and runs down to the esophagus. This is the easiest method for assisted feeding.
    • Gastrostomy tube- General anaesthetic will be used on your cat and the tube will be inserted at the cat’s side into the stomach. Your cat won’t have to swallow.
    • Nasogastric tube- Anesthesia may or may not be used during the procedure of placing the tube in the nose running down to the stomach. This is suitable for short-term feeding of liquids only.
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Clinicare Feline Liquid Renal Care - 8oz

Frequently asked questions about appetite stimulants for cats

How to stimulate a cat’s appetite?

Cats often prefer wet cat food like seafood or poultry-flavored varieties. They are also more likely to eat in shallow, stainless steel bowls than in deep, plastic containers. Palatability may be an issue which can be solved by adding fish flakes or tuna juice in their food. If they have trouble chewing or digesting food, you may opt for pureed food.

Cats recuperating from illness, stress, anxiety, or surgery may be given OTC appetite stimulants to ensure they get the required nutrients. Senior cats and malnourished cats will also have renewed appetite using stimulants. In case of continued refusal to eat, pharmacological medication and assisted feeding may be necessary.

Does catnip stimulate a cat’s appetite?

Catnip is an herb available in fresh and dried forms. It creates a euphoric high in cats followed by an increase in appetite. However, when catnip is ingested it can act as a mild sedative accompanied by a decrease in appetite. 

Catnip may be given to healthy cats that have a temporary distaste for food. It may be that you recently switched to a different type of cat food and they are still adjusting to its taste. Catnip may help in this case.

If your cat has not been eating, it is not advisable for their gut health to give them catnip. You may instead use over-the-counter appetite stimulants for cats.

Do appetite stimulants work for cats?

Appetite stimulants work to improve the palatability of your cat’s diet while providing necessary nutrients when your cat doesn’t eat a regular diet. It can also help cats get to their ideal weight which is necessary for show cats and undernourished cats. Those with high levels of activity can also take these supplements.

TNT interactive Virbac Nutri-Plus Gel Nutritional High Calorie Energy Supplement with 5 ML Hand Feeding Syringe

However, appetite stimulants cannot cure the underlying cause of lack of appetite. Consult your vet for an accurate diagnosis and treatment your cat needs to return to its regular eating patterns. Still, appetite stimulants help with the peace of mind of cat owners and vets so the cat receives nourishment while undergoing treatment. It also promotes recovery.

How to stimulate an old cat’s appetite?

Old cats are more keen on consuming wet food and soft food. Dry food and stews with bits of chunks may be hard for older cats to ingest. As such, it may seem like they don’t want to eat when they are really hungry. Before you consider implanting a feeding tube on your cat, first consider if your cat could be sick.

Weight loss in older cats is often caused by certain illnesses like kidney and liver diseases. Some cats are suffering from life-threatening illnesses and still others have dental problems like losing their canine teeth. Appetite stimulants will help your cat get the nourishment it needs as your vet focuses on treating the medical condition causing the lack of appetite. 

Is there a natural appetite stimulant for cats?

You can add chicken broth or canned tuna juice in your cat’s food to make it more palatable. All-natural appetite stimulants like dried bonito flakes are also available and can be added on top of cat food to make it more tasty. Do consider the probability that your cat has Vitamin B deficiency. Supplementing your cat’s food with Vitamin B can help regulate its appetite.

Some cats also don’t like sharing their food with other cats so make sure every cat has a separate bowl. Ensure there is no danger when gaining access to their food and be sure the kitty litter is as far away from their food as possible.

What stimulates a cat’s appetite?

Cats will eat when they are hungry. If you have an indoor cat, ensure that it gets adequate daily exercise so that it will want to eat its next meal. While we want to ensure our cats eat healthy food, we must also consider serving palatable choices to them. Animal protein has the flavor that cats love so opt for turkey, chicken, and seafood for your cat than veggies and carbs.

Some appetite stimulants for cats contain fats, oils, and sugars. Keep in mind that these will provide the extra boost of calories and energy that lethargic cats need as well as those that are eating poorly. 

Is Vetalog an appetite stimulant for cats?

While increase in appetite is one of the known side effects of using corticosteroids, the reverse is true for triamcinolone. Triamcinolone Acetonide or Vetalog is not suggested for the treatment of lack of appetite. It leads to loss of appetite and can also worsen ulcers and cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even bloody diarrhea. Worse, anorexia is one of the adverse reactions of Vetalog. 

The injectable steroid is used to provide relief from allergies, inflammation, itchy skin, and pain. However, caution should be exercised when medicating with Vetalog. It should not be given to pregnant and lactating cats as well as those with diabetes, heart failure, and hypertension.

This post contains affiliate links on some of the images. You can support this blog by trying out the products recommended in this article. 

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Cristina Vulpe is a licensed veterinarian who has been a cat owner since she was 12. She is passionate about giving useful advice to pet owners across the world. Her favorite topics range from pathology and novel therapies to infectious diseases and animal welfare. Her work has been featured in many online publications from The Pet Friendly House to Alpha Paw, Animal Wellness Magazine, and Currently, she is a Pet Content Specialist for IkoBrands.

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