Best Cat Food for Senior or Older Cats

Does your cat seem less and less interested in everyday play? If she is 9 years or older, chances are that this behavior is triggered by her transitioning into her senior period.

Our feline friends are generally thought to be entering their senior years at about the age of 11. However, I like to think of my 9 years as a senior. From age 14 onward I’ll consider her as geriatric.

Of course, your vet probably already told you that the categorization of cats as seniors will vary a lot by breed, and even the individual cat. All the same, all cats will display similar signs that hint to their aging. Some of these signs, unfortunately, are health-related. The initial tell-tell signs that your cat is entering the senior period of their life will likely be weakening joints and teeth, tiredness, and dull skin and coat.

Whatever signs for aging your cat may display, they still have plenty of good years in them. And, you can help them age better, healthier, happier.

One thing the vet would always insist on my senior kitty is her nutrition. He recommended a switch to a senior cat diet, emphasizing that its recipe contained the right nutrition to help my cat’s skin, teeth, and joints stay strong.

 

Recommended for Senior Cats

There is a myriad of senior cat foods you’ll find on the market. With these many options, choosing the best cat food for your senior cat can be quite tough. Even when you have a preferred manufacturer in mind. Chances are, that single manufacturer will have multiple options in their line of senior cat food.

Should you go for grain-free food? High protein? Low calories? Plant carb? The list can be endless…maddening even. Especially when you don’t have a clue where to start.

For senior cats with no particular health issues -those that are just feeling lazy from getting older- I recommend Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Grain-Free. This is a grain-free, high-cal wet cat food that’s perfectly balanced to give your aging cat the kick they need to face each day with a lot of excitement and energy.

Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food is an excellent choice to help with non-health related dullness in senior cats.

IAMS proactive Senior Dry Cat Food and Purina Pro Plan Canned Wet Cat Food are also great options for maintaining your cat’s weight and making them feel more energetic.

You can substitute your cat’s low-calorie dry cat food with a higher-cal wet food option to offer a good balance.

Nutro Senior Wet Cat will help your senior cat put a check on their eating habits so they don’t keep eating like a kitten.

Senior cats with teeth problems find the Royal Canin Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy to be much easier to eat.

 

Factors to Consider for Cat Foods for Older Cats

As your cat starts her senior years, you’ll want their diet to achieve some specific goals due to the vulnerability that comes with this transition. Most cat owners switch to foods formulated for their senior cats to maintain the health and ideal body weight of their cat, lessen symptoms of pre-existing ailments and prevent chronic illnesses, among other things.

As a cat owner, you know what you want to achieve, yes. But, do you know what cat food will deliver the desired results? When it comes to choosing the best cat food for senior kitties, most cat owners hit a snag.

Below I will take you through the considerations I paid attention to when recommending the best 10 cat food choices for older cats. Remember, your cat will not need all the things discussed below.

 

Ingredients

    Different cats have specific dietary requirements. As your cat transitions into her senior years, she will become more sensitive to certain ingredients, even if she used to like it as a kitten. Mild allergies can form and you might notice some vomiting after taking the normal ration of her favorite food.

    Senior cat foods often contain a low number of ingredients to cater to the changing sensitivity of your cat’s stomach. Foods with high-quality ingredients will be easier to digest, giving your aging cat all the nutrients they need.

    It is recommended that senior cats take dry food with 10% fat and 28% protein or wet food containing 4% fat and 8% protein. Among other nutrients.

    Generally, senior cats will need more proteins. Since cats are obligate carnivorous, they are biologically adapted to obtain nutrition from animal products more than from plant products. Cat foods for seniors contain animal-based proteins. These are usually obtained from fish, poultry, or beef. All these contain a heart-healthy ingredient called taurine, which senior cats need.

    Carbohydrate is an important ingredient for senior cat food. It is a good source of fiber which helps with digestion. Carbs also have essential minerals and nutrients which ensure the overall health of your senior cat. For senior cat food, carbs should be easy to digest. Whole-grains such as brown rice are a common source of carbohydrates in cat food. Some cats are sensitive to it, however.

    Healthy fats are an excellent source of energy. Fatty acids commonly used in senior cat foods are Omega 3 and Omega 6, which help keep the cat’s skin and fur healthy. When choosing cat food for your senior cat, it is important to note what the source of their fat is since some cats are sensitive to chicken fat, and others to salmon oil, which are the two most common animal fat sources. You may consider, also, a blend of animal fat and plant oils.

    Other important ingredients you might want to look for in your cat’s food includes antioxidants and probiotics. While antioxidants are helpful with the cat’s immune system, probiotics are important in promoting a healthy stomach.

     

    Texture

      Cats can be finicky, especially when they are sensitive to certain ingredients contained in the food you serve them. Even the texture of the food is enough to put them off.

      Dry foods are often harsh on older cats with dental issues. Canned wet food is more preferred. Even so, some cats with missing teeth develop harder gums which they use to crush the dry kibble they love. Some dry cat foods for senior cats can be moistened with warm water to make it soft. This is especially recommended for cats who cannot gum the dry kibble.

       

      Moisture Content

        Older cats need a lot more moisture in their food than they did when younger. Foods with high moisture content are more appealing because they are highly palatable. Especially for cats with dental issues, missing teeth, or gum disease.

        Wet cat food has a high water content which cats generally love. More so because it resembles “freshly caught prey,” which is, well, rather moist. These foods (wet) help increase the water intake which is good for older cats, who are predisposed to renal failure.

        Because canned wet cat food contains a high moisture content, they encourage frequent urination and helps keep the kidney functioning correctly. This keeps problems like Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease at bay.

         

        Why trust me?

        As an adoring cat owner and a passionate dog lover, I can say it is my love for pets that paved the path to the successful career I’ve had freelance writing. Mostly about pet care and nutrition. I can’t resist the desire to share my own experiences as a pet parent. And, I feel my fans actually love that about my writing.

        In addition to being a pet parent and ghostwriter, I’m also a blogger and columnist for a number of pet magazines (print and digital). Working with different editors has made me adept at researching and writing about pet tips, tricks, and advice with more authority.

        I despise inaccurate and questionable information as much as any reader. That is why I always research HARD and consult WIDE to give my readers quality, reliable information and to connect them with the best products for a pleasant buying experience.

        I started researching about the best cat food for older cats when my vet asked me to change my 9yo cat’s diet; to introduce senior cat food. I took her yo see the vet when I noticed that she was becoming increasingly dull, slowing down, and seemed less and less interested in spending time outdoors. With time, she became more finicky with her food and would sometimes throw up after eating some of her favorites.

        The vet did not recommend any particular cat food for my seniors, but they did emphasize that her nutritional needs had changed and that I needed to introduce her to special foods meant for aging cats.

        If you have a cat between 9 and 14 years, you probably are facing a similar situation with your feline friend. If you haven’t found a food your kitty would love, check out some of the best cat foods for older cats I found during my intensive research for the best option for my own cat.

         

        The Best Senior Cat Foods

         

        1. Purina Pro Plan Senior 7+ Canned Wet Cat Food

        Purina Pro Plan Senior 7+ Canned Wet Cat Food

        Is your senior cat getting the hydration she needs? Or is she having a hard time with her food for her missing teeth? The Purina Pro Plan canned wet cat food for senior cats is formulated to be as soft as pate which is suitable for older cats with teeth problems.

        Your senior cat doesn’t need to have loose teeth to enjoy this food. It has enough water content to keep any cat hydrated. This is also good for the digestive system. And, it is packed with vitamins and essential minerals to boost your cat’s immunity.  

        Lower protein content makes this an ideal choice If you are watching your cat’s weight. If your cat is on the skinny side, they will certainly need a more sizable portion of this canned food.  Though, it is not the best option for underweights.

        This can is packed in salmon and tuna flavor which most cats seem to appreciate. It is particularly a great choice for geriatric cats since their sense of smell and taste have been reduced. Although, if you are not a sea-food lover, you might find the strong smell from this fish-based cat food to be a little off-putting.

        PROS

        • Flavored in Salmon & Tuna or Chicken & Beef
        • Sufficient water content to hydrate senior cats
        • Contains vitamins and essential minerals known to boost immunity
        • Improved digestive system
        • Lower protein content helps with weight management
        • Nicely packaged in a can
        • Strong fish smell is appealing to cats with a reduced sense of smell

        CONS

        • Not the best option for underweight cats

         

         

        2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Indoor Mature Recipe Wet Food

        Looking for a great product for your older indoor cat? Blue Buffalo’s Freedom is uniquely formulated to provide complete and well-balanced nutrition to help boost your kitty’s health.

        Its animal protein-rich formula uses chicken as the main ingredient. This makes it a suitable option for both indoor and outdoor cats even if Blue Buffalo markets it for indoor senior cats. Chicken broth in the formula helps with moisture and chicken liver provides much-needed proteins and other healthy nutrients.

        This is a completely grain-free recipe for mature cats. You don’t need to worry about corn, wheat, soy ingredients or any artificial additives in the recipe. Not only is it made with natural ingredients but it is also rich in fiber for a healthy metabolism. A blend of flaxseed and fresh vegetables offer essential fatty acids, vitamins, and nutrients.

        While Blue Buffalo Freedom is specially formulated with healthy ingredients to provide nutrition specific to your mature cat’s needs, the chicken flavor is not a favorite for all cats. That said, this is a no-no Mr. Puff Puff is sensitive to chicken ingredients.

        PROS

        • Fresh chicken ingredients
        • Great delivery of moisture and protein
        • Fatty acids and fresh vegetable blend
        • Completely free from corn and soy ingredients
        • No artificial additives

        CONS

        • Contains carrageenan which is a controversial ingredient

         

         

        3. IAMS Proactive Health Senior Adult Dry Cat Food

         IAMS Proactive Health Senior Adult Dry Cat Food

        IAMS Healthy Senior cat food is a crunchy, dry kibble specially formulated to improve your cat’s overall health. While it helps with everything from teeth, joints, bones, and the heart, customers were particularly impressed with how well it worked for weight management. It is highly recommended for cats that put on weight as they age.

        There are no fillers used in IAMS Proactive Healthy Senior cat food. The main ingredient used is chicken, which is suitable for both indoor and outdoor seniors. This adult dry cat food is specially formulated with essential vitamins (Vit. E) and minerals including potassium and calcium.

        To help with the digestion and immune system, IAMS Healthy Senior kibbles contain L-carnitine, probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants. This is an excellent formulation for maintaining the overall health of your senior cat.

        The only issue some of you might have is with the thick hard kibbles. However, the are crunchier, and well-sized so as to minimize plaque buildup.

        PROS

        • Chicken as the main ingredient
        • No fillers used in the formulation
        • Nutritionally balanced for overall at health
        • No more stinky poo
        • Well-priced

        CONS

        • Thick hard kibble

         

         

        4. Canidae Grain-Free PURE Meadow Senior Cat Food

        Canidae Grain-Free PURE Meadow Senior Cat Food

        The market is flooded with so many canned food options. How can you tell which is the best for your fluffy companion?

        Canidae Grin-Free Pure Meadow Senior Cat Food is a high-quality formula for senior cats. The food is packed with essential ingredients vital for good health. The perfectly blended ingredients will ensure your cat has minimal to no health issues.

        This formula is great for reversing the effects of severe skin sores. Results can be seen as soon as a week into feeding with Canidae cat food. Aging comes with coarse fur and some shedding as well. Canidae healthy formula will restore your cat’s coat to its silky, bright, and soft feel.

        The use of dried fermentation products help keep your gut healthy. Aside from probiotic support, the Canidae recipe is fortified with chelated minerals to ensure optimal absorption. You can say goodbye to the foul odor coming from the litter box. Canidae cat chow will help your senior feline house resident with her digestion problems including bloating. This means more solid and less gassy poop.

        For cats that are allergic to chicken or just won’t eat wet food, then Canidae is the answer. Try it out and see your little one lick the bowl right off the floor!

        PROS

        • High-quality animal protein
        • Completely grain-free
        • Carbohydrates like lentils and chickpeas
        • Offers a blend of essential minerals, dietary fiber, and fatty acids
        • Dried fermentation products are good for her digestive system

        CONS

        • High in fat

         

         

        5. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Healthy Senior Recipe Cat Food

        Merrick Purrfect Bistro Healthy Senior Recipe Cat Food

        Remember when first you got your cat, all fluffy and healthy? And, you couldn’t keep her from jumping here and there…and everywhere. Does she seem less energetic now?  That’s age catching up. Probably faster than you wish it would!

        There is no better way to show cat love than to introduce her to Merrick Purrfect Bistro Healthy Senior Recipe Cat Food. This can of nutritious goodness will restore her appetite without adding unnecessary weight. It is low in carbs, well balanced nutritionally, and the price is very pocket- friendly.

        Some senior cats have to deal with constant bloating, diarrhea and low appetite. Some of the medical problems they encounter are expensive to fix. That’s where Merrick's healthy option comes in! Cats that fee on the carefully selected and mild ingredients Merrick Purrfect Bistro recipe offers begin to notice their skin and coat being restored.

        For cats that have kidney problems or frequent UTIs, Merrick magic will prove to be a soothing comfort. The canned food is grain-free which helps in easing the digestive process as well as urea extraction in your cat’s body. The litter will be less odorous and hairball issues will be a thing of the past.

        PROS

        • Natural meat flavor
        • Free from artificial colors and preservatives
        • Contains a blend of healthy fats
        • Balanced for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
        • 39% protein to support lean muscle mass
        • Chelated minerals for optimal absorption

        CONS

        • Some cats are allergic to the plant proteins contained

         

         

        6. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Senior Cat Food

        Wouldn’t you feel great knowing that the food you eat is made from high-quality ingredients sourced from a network of trusted farmers? That’s the same feeling your fur-ball will get when you switch her to Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Senior Cat Food.

        This recipe is uniquely formulated to support the overall health and wellness of your older cat. It contains 36% protein, 17% fat, and 6% fiber. Even while fiber and carbohydrates are obtained from the whole-grain brown rice, it is highly digestible unlike with most recipes that are not grain-free.

        Antioxidants contained in the formula help with the immune system to keep some age-related diseases at bay. Taurine keeps kitty’s heart healthy and omega fatty acids help keep her skin and coat in good shape.

        Nutro wholesome food will minimize nausea and help your cat to regain its normal health status. Besides tummy issues, there is also a dental challenge. Senior cats lose teeth as they age and chewing food becomes harder by the day. Nutro senior cat food kibbles are small in size and easy to chew. Additionally, it will no longer have wet, foul-smelling poop flops. A few days into the Nutro wholesome diet will see your housemate have normal solid poop, as well as regain its energy and dashing youthful looks.

        PROS

        • High-quality animal protein from farm-raised chicken
        • Whole-grain brown rice offers carbohydrates and fiber
        • Recipe fortified with antioxidants
        • Excellent support for lean muscle mass
        • Chelated mineral supplements for optimal nutrient absorption

        CONS

        • Contains some plant protein

         

         

        7. Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult 11+ for Senior Cats

        Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult 11+ for Senior Cats

        You’ve probably heard of Hill’s Science. It is a reputable brand in the pet care industry. But, has your aging furbaby experienced their highly nutritional formula for 11+ cats?

        This Hill’s Science dry cat food is specially formulated with indoor seniors in mind. The kibble softened with some warm water so it can be served as both wet or dry. Its kibbles are made small and shaped for easy chewing and digestion with minimal plaque buildup.

        Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food ingredients have been selected by scientific experts to help your senior cat age gracefully. Its special formula will help a heavy cat manage their weight and shade off some grams naturally and safely. Kidney disease is another common problem for senior cats. Kidney supplements will work well with Hill Science feline food.

        PROS

        • Well-known and trusted brand
        • Contains antioxidants
        • High fiber content keeps the digestive system regular
        • Triangular shaped kibble helps reduce plaque buildup
        • Small-sized kibble is ideal for older cats
        • No artificial flavors or colors

        CONS

        • Kibble can be tough for cats with dental issues to chew

         

         

        8. Royal Canin Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy Wet Cat Food

        Royal Canin Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy Wet Cat Food

        Cats love great tasting food and nothing gets tastier than Royal Canin Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy Wet Cat Food. Most of the medical issues that senior cats go through often leave them picky and craving for good food. The high nutrition ingredients in this tasty can of food will help in resolving some, if not all, of the medical issues.

        Kidney failure and thyroid problems can cause a cat to lose weight drastically. Your cat will also become less active and spend more hours sleeping. Royal Canin slices will help boost your cat’s energy levels as well as help it gain weight safely. You may even switch from a veterinarian diet because Royal Canin contains only 59mg/100-kilocalories of potassium. The lowest in the market. The number of carbohydrates, fats, and protein is moderate which safeguards your cat’s health.

        In the same way that elderly people can develop joint and bone problems (such as arthritis), so too senior cats. Aching joints will prevent your cat from walking, playing or even umping. Supplements may not always be effective in easing your cat’s discomfort. For aching joints, Royal Canin wet cat food contains glucosamine. Regular feeding with this super-healthy food will help your cat to run, jump and play with no pain.

        PROS

        • Formula contains all the essential vitamins and minerals
        • Lower phosphorus levels help kidney issues
        • Thin, soft slices for easy digestion
        • Gravy and meat mixture encourage eating
        • Higher levels of essential fatty acids, proteins, and carbohydrates

        CONS

        • Gravy might cause a mess

         

         

        Last words

        It is my hope that this guide has helped you figure out the best cat food for your aging kitty, and why they need it. It is extremely important that you become more proactive with your older cat’s feed. The earlier you start feeding your cat the right food as they begin their senior years, the better the chances that they will live a longer, healthier, and happier life.

        Remember when you’re transitioning your cat onto the new foods we’ve recommended above; you’ll want to introduce it to them gradually. A sudden change in their rations might trigger a protest, and leave them either unsatisfied of starved all together. Start with 20% or less new food and work your way up until all they have in their ration is the food meant for them in their senior years.