In this article, Shannon Cutts takes the uncertainty out of choosing the best cat food for older cats.
There was a time not so many decades ago when all cats got “cat food.”
This is because the pet food market simply didn’t cater for the different nutritional needs of different cats.
The value of specialized pre-prepared cat meals like senior cat food hadn’t been recognized or developed yet.
Today, cat lovers are lucky!
You have many options for choosing the best cat food for older cats.
Perhaps this is because cats are now the most popular family pets in the world. And 78 percent of cat owners consider their felines to be full family members.
Whether your cat has a sensitive stomach, kidney issues, dental issues, weight issues, joint issues or simply needs a special nutrient blend for longevity. You are much more likely to find exactly the food you are looking for.
In this article, we will take a look at what the research says about the best cat food for older cats.
And then we have a range of tailored meals that may fit your cat’s health needs!
Best food for older cats
Not only has cat food itself taken a giant leap forward, but veterinary science has followed along with it.
This means that today, your cat’s veterinarian can truly be your ally in choosing the best cat food for older cats.
It is always ideal to talk with your veterinarian before beginning the process of switching your senior cat from one food to another.
This way, you are much more likely to get the right new food the first time!
Why go to the trouble of choosing specific senior dry cat food brands or the best wet food for senior cats?
Advantages of choosing specialized food for older cats
Research from France shows us that what you feed your senior cat can measurably impact how long she lives.
Specifically, senior cat food that contains antioxidants and essential fatty acids can help your senior cat live up to 12 months longer than feeding a general adult cat food alone.
Current advice from the American Association of Feline Practitioners is that the best senior cat food will directly address age-related feline issues.
Such issues can include decreases in digestion, fat absorption, skin elasticity, hearing acuity, coat health and nail strength
Sense of smell, eyesight acuity, lung capacity and heart function can also decrease as cats age.
Other issues can include weight loss/gain, dental health issues, thyroid issues, bladder and kidney issues, decreased self-grooming ability and more.
Choosing the right senior cat food can help ease your cat through the aging process and enhance quality of life and longevity!
Best dry cat food for older cats
Each of these senior dry cat food brands is veterinarian recommended.
They are carefully balanced for mature and senior cats who need special nutritional supplementation.
Hill’s Science Diet Senior Dry Cat Food
Hill’s Science Diet is among the best cat food for older cats because it actually offers a staged senior dry cat food plan.
There is one food for senior cats aged 7+ years and one for senior cats aged 11+ years.
Plus, there are two recipes for each age category: senior cats aged 7+ years can choose from Indoor or Active Longevity.
And senior cats aged 11+ years can choose from Indoor Age Defying and Age Defying.
So you can choose the recipe which best matches your cat’s age and lifestyle.
IAMS Proactive Health Senior Adult Dry Cat Food
IAMS senior cat food offers three different options for caring for a senior cat’s nutritional needs.
Namely: Mature Adult, Mature Adult-Hairball Care and Healthy Senior.
The Mature cat formula is designed for cats aged 8 to 10 years and the Senior cat formula is for cats aged 11+ years.
These recipes include prebiotics, probiotics and beet pulp for healthy digestion, plus antioxidants, vitamins and minerals for immune system health.
L-carnitine helps to maintain a healthy metabolism for weight management.
Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Cat Food, Senior Cat
This dry cat food for older cats is designed by veterinarians and feline health researchers.
It features real chicken as the number one ingredient.
It is free from corn, soy, wheat, artificial ingredients or preservatives.
This food is enriched with essential fatty acids, flax seed for dietary fiber.
There are also whole fruits and vegetables for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Cat owners say this is a particularly good food for senior cats, with its smaller kibble and easy-to-digest recipe.
Some owners say it is easier for their older cats to digest than the same brand sensitive stomach recipe!
Senior dry cat food
Finding the best cat food for older cats can sometimes mean acknowledging that you may need to start softening your cat’s dry kibble.
This could mean mixing dry kibble with wet or transitioning to an easier-to-eat wet food.
Here are some more senior cat dry food options which offer a healthy base to build your feline’s complete daily menu!
Nutro Max Senior Cat Food-Dry
This highly rated and popular senior cat food is free from by-products, soy, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
It comes fortified with vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants, natural whole grain dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, L-carnitine for more efficient metabolism and whole real chicken as the first ingredient.
The kibble has a thin triangle shape with a hole at the center, so it is easier for older cats to bite and chew.
Cat owners say even their senior cats in the late teens are able to bite and chew this food easily.
Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Cat Food, Senior Cats
This food is all natural with real deboned chicken as the first ingredient.
It is fortified with vitamins, minerals, glucosamine/chondroitin for joint support and L-carnitine for metabolic support.
There is no wheat, corn, soy, by-products, artificial ingredients or preservatives.
This dry kibble also includes cranberries and probiotics for urinary tract health, rosemary for antioxidants and flaxseed for healthy fiber.
BLUE for Cats Healthy Aging Mature Dry Cat Food
This specialized senior cat food features real chicken as the first ingredient and has no chicken by-products.
This food is designed to help senior cats who are losing weight or vomiting due to age-related health issues.
Cat owners say this food really helps their senior cats gain the weight back and assists with a shinier, healthier coat and healthier poop.
The kibble is hard, however, so cat owners recommend softening it with a little water for cats who have trouble chewing dry kibble.
Best wet food for senior cats
Senior cat food wet can sometimes become more of a staple rather than a treat during your cat’s golden years.
If this is where you and your senior cat are headed, then you still have plenty of choices.
Choose a wet cat food that features pure, whole food ingredients with appropriate vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Like these brands for example!
Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Aging 12+ Canned Cat Food
This highly palatable, easy to chew senior cat food wet recipe features plenty of essential fatty acids plus glucosamine/chondroitin for joint support and reduced phosphorus content for kidney support.
Cat owners say even their picky senior cats really like this food and it is easy for them to eat.
Some cat owners report that they began feeding this food after their veterinarian recommended it for their senior cat.
Hill’s Science Diet Senior Wet Cat Food
Just like with their senior dry cat food line, Hill’s Science Diet has a great variety of wet food recipes for senior cats aged 7+ years and senior cats aged 11+ years.
There are no artificial ingredients or preservatives in any of these recipes.
Furthermore, all are enriched with essential vitamins, minerals and healthy dietary fiber appropriate to the age and life stage of your indoor or indoor/outdoor cat.
Nutro Max Senior Chicken and Lamb Formula Canned Cat Food
Nutro Max offers one of the best wet cat food for older cats recipes with a highly palatable texture and real chicken as the first ingredient with no by-products.
This food is designed to be complete and balanced nutrition.
Cat owners say it is good for cats with thyroid issues as well as senior cats who are picky eaters.
Best cat food for older cats with sensitive stomachs
The best cat food for older cats is usually a grain-free recipe.
Gluten-free, GMO-free recipes can also be easier for your senior cat’s sensitive tummy to tolerate.
Each of these sensitive stomach senior cat food brands come highly recommended by cats and their owners!
Halo Holistic Wet Cat Food for Senior Cats
This soft senior chicken and chickpea cat food is grain-free, GMO-free and highly palatable for cats with sensitive stomach issues.
With lower fat and calories but a higher protein content and higher dietary fiber, this food can also help optimize nutrition without packing on the pounds.
Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Dry Cat Food
This grain free food for older cats is a good choice if your senior cat has a sensitive stomach or food allergies.
Real chicken is the first ingredient and this gluten-free food.
The recipe also features extra fiber to control hairballs, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and probiotics.
This is a gluten-free cat food with no artificial ingredients or preservatives.
Cat owners suggest adding a bit of water or broth to soften the kibble.
Solid Gold Senior Cat Dry Food
This grain-free, gluten-free senior cat food recipe is another good choice if your cat has food allergies or a sensitive stomach.
Real turkey is the first ingredient and the recipe includes plenty of antioxidants sourced from natural superfoods, essential fatty acids and vitamins and minerals.
Cat owners say their senior cats have maintained a healthy weight and even picky eaters or cats who tend to vomit have been able to eat this food with great results.
Best cat food for older cats with bad teeth
Choosing cat food for older cats with teeth problems frequently boils down to finding a soft food that won’t cause your cat any pain at mealtimes.
These neat wet cat food recipes vary from soft but still chewy to fully lickable, depending on the nature of your cat’s dental issues.
Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus Adult 7+ Wet Cat Food
This soft cat food for older cats has a wet texture but still has some good chewable bits and palatable “mouth feel” for cats transitioning from hard dry kibble.
It is very highly rated and popular with cat owners and their felines.
This food contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, prebiotics and probiotics and dietary fiber to support the digestion and immune system health needs of cats aged 7 and older.
Nutro Natural Choice Senior Soft Loaf Chicken Recipe
This cat food for senior cats is made so that your cat can actually lap it up with his tongue instead of having to bite down and chew.
It features real chicken and no grain, which can also make keeping your senior cat’s remaining teeth clean easier.
There are no artificial ingredients or preservatives in this food.
It is also very low carb and high in protein to help your senior cat maintain his weight.
Delectables Stew Lickable Treat for Senior Cats 10 Years+
Cat owners say this food is very palatable and easy to eat – the package says “lickable treat,” but the instructions state this is actually a cat food, not a treat food.
You can feed one packet per meal instead of dry kibble or wet cat food.
There are three types of recipes: chowder, bisque and stew.
Cat owners say this is also a good choice for as one of the best cat food for older cats because it is so tasty even very finicky cats will want to enjoy it!
Best cat food for senior cats
We hope you have found this article about the best cat food for older cats to be a handy guide as you support your senior cat’s health needs!
Have you found your senior cat’s next food in this list here?
Once you do choose a food for your cat, please drop us a comment to let us know which brand you chose and why – we always love to learn from our readers and their precious felines!
Freeman, L., DVM, PhD, DACVN, et al, “When Should I Switch My Pet To A Senior Diet?,” Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, 2017.
Julius, K., DVM, et al, “Understanding The Changing Health Needs Of Mature, Senior And Geriatric Cats,” Legacy Veterinary Hospital, 2014.
Cupp, C., DVM, MS, et al, “Effects of Nutritional Interventions on Longevity in Senior Cats,” The International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine, 2006.
Brooks, D., et al, “History of Pet Food,” Pet Food Institute, 2018.
Pittari, J., DVM, DACVP, et al, “American Association of Feline Practitioners: Senior Care Guidelines,” Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 2009.
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