The protein leverage hypothesis proposes that the need to prioritise protein intake drives excess energy intake (EI) when the dietary ratio of protein to fat and carbohydrate is reduced. We hypothesised that cats may become prone to overconsuming energy content when moderate protein diets were offered, and considered the potential influence of fat and carbohydrate on intake. To determine the effect of dietary protein and macronutrient profile (MNP) on EI, weight and body composition, cats (1–4 years) were offered food in excess of energy requirements (ER). A total of six diets were formulated, containing moderate (approximately 7 % w/w; approximately 22 % metabolisable energy (ME)) or high (approximately 10 % w/w; approximately 46 % ME) protein and varying levels of carbohydrate and fat. For 4 weeks, 120 cats were offered 100 % of their individual ER of a diet at the MNP selected by adult cats (50:40:10 protein energy ratio:fat energy ratio:carbohydrate energy ratio). EI, body weight (BW), body composition, activity and palatability were measured. Subsequently, cats were offered one of the six diets at 200 % of their individual ER for 4 weeks when measurements were repeated. Cats offered excess high protein diets had higher EI (kJ/kg) throughout, but at 4 weeks BW was not significantly different to baseline. Cats offered excess moderate protein diets reduced EI and gradually lost weight (average loss of 0·358 (99 % CI 0·388, 0·328) kg), irrespective of fat:carbohydrate and initial palatability. The data do not support the protein leverage hypothesis. Furthermore, cats were able to adapt intake of a wet diet with high protein in an overfeeding environment within 28 d.