Best Senior Cat Food: Because Older Kitties Deserve to Eat Well

best food for older cats

 

While I will always think of my cat as my little kitten, as she is now in her 13th year, I have had to accept that she is getting older! From about the age of 11, I noticed her slowing down and spending less time outdoors.

I also noticed that she was much fussier with her food and regurgitated her meals more often. I consulted my vet, and they told me that now that she is older, her nutritional needs have changed.

If you also have a senior cat and you are looking for the right food to keep them healthy and happy in their older years, fear not, I have done all the research, and found the 10 best cat foods for older cats.

To know which one is right for your cat will depend on their particular age issues. Read on to find out more about how cats’ nutritional needs change as they get older, and to find the right food for your senior cat.

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At a Glance: Best Food for Senior Cats

I feed my senior cat a combination of Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Grain-Free wet cat food and Now Fresh Grain Free Senior Cat Weight Management dry cat food. Both foods are grain-free, which I prefer, and I use the low-calorie dry food to balance the relatively high-calorie wet food.

But I prefer the Blue Buffalo recipe because it is made only with quality meat, and no meat meal or by-products, which naturally contains more of the nutrients that my cat needs. While I appreciate the way that cat food are enriched with extra nutrients, I want her to get as much of her nutrients as possible from natural sources.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  2. Royal Canin Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy Canned Cat Food
  3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Healthy Cuisine Canned Cat Food
  4. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Classic Salmon & Tuna Entrée Canned Cat Food
  5. Nutro Senior Minced Cod & Tuna Cuisine in Tasty Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
  6. Now Fresh Grain-Free Senior Weight Management Recipe Dry Cat Food
  7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Senior Farm-Raised Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food
  8. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Healthy Senior Recipe Dry Cat Food
  9. Wellness Complete Health Senior Health Debones Chicken and Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Cat Food
  10. IAMS ProActive Health Healthy Senior Dry Cat Food

 

10 Best Cat Food For Older Cats

 

Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Like all cat foods from the Blue Buffalo brand, this canned cat food is made from high-quality meat, without meat by-products. It is also from a single source, rather than using a mix of animal meats. This can be easier to digest for cats with sensitive stomachs. For the same reason, the formula is grain-free and uses sweet potato as its main carbohydrate.

The resulting recipe is higher in calories and fat than many of the other food for seniors, so be careful about portion size. The formula also has a lot of added vitamins and minerals to ensure that your senior cat gets enough of them. It is particularly high in taurine, which is essential for your cat’s eye and heart health. Natural fiber from berries makes it highly digestible.

 

Pros

  • High-quality animal protein
  • Single protein source
  • Grain-free
  • Added vitamins and minerals including taurine
  • Fiber from berries

 

Cons

  • High-calorie
  • High in fat

 

Overall: Basic Digestible Protein

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

When it comes to choosing a wet food for cats with teeth problems, this product from Royal Canin can make a great alternative. The thin slices in gravy are easier on cats teeth but deliver the same strong meaty flavor with lots of moisture.

While the formula has been designed to appeal to the palate of older cats, it is made with a high portion of animal by-products, which has less of the high-quality protein that older cats need than muscle and organ meat.

The formula also contains grains, which can be problematic for cats with sensitive stomachs. Added essential fatty acids are good for their joints, and reduced sodium and phosphorus protect their kidneys. Overall the formula is also pretty low-calorie, so no need to worry too much about your older cat putting on too much weight.

 

Pros

  • Thin slices that are easy on teeth
  • Reduced sodium and phosphorus
  • High in essential fatty acids
  • Appeals to cat’s palate palette
  • Low-calorie

 

Cons

  • Includes animal by-products
  • Contains grains

 

Overall: Easy on the Teeth

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Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Healthy Cuisine Canned Cat Food

This is a great choice if you are looking for a mostly natural diet for your older cat. It provides good quality protein primarily from muscles and organs, and couples this with vitamins and minerals found naturally in fruits and vegetables. There are also no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The resulting recipe is low-calorie, however, it does contain grains, which can cause stomach issues for some older cats.

It is great that the recipe is all-natural, but it means that there are no additional probiotics to aid in your cat’s digestion. However, the formula is high in fiber, so hopefully, this is not essential.

 

Pros

  • High-quality protein
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives
  • High in essential vitamins and minerals
  • Low-calorie
  • High in fiber

 

Cons

  • Contains grains
  • No added probiotics

 

Overall: Naturally Healthy

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Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Classic Salmon & Tuna Entrée Canned Cat Food

This food is an excellent choice for senior cats that favor seafood as it is made from real salmon and tuna, though they have also snuck some meat by-products in there. It is also grain-free, which should be good for sensitive stomachs, however, some artificial flavors are a red flag as the chemicals in these can be problematic for older cats.

The resulting fish formula is relatively high in fat and calories, so portion control should be exercised. But even with the smaller portion, they should get all the nutrients that they need as it is enhanced with 25 essential vitamins and minerals plus taurine.

 

Pros

  • High-quality protein
  • Grain-free
  • Added vitamins and minerals including taurine
  • High in moisture

 

Cons

  • High-calorie
  • High in fat
  • Includes artificial flavors

 

Overall: Senior’s Seafood

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Nutro Senior Minced Cod & Tuna Cuisine in Tasty Gravy Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

This formula from Nutro is another canned food that offers high-quality animal protein, which is the best type of protein for older cats. It is also grain-free to ensure it does not irritate sensitive stomachs.

It is also fortified with additional vitamins, minerals, and taurine to ensure that your cat is getting all the nutrients they need. This is important as your cat will need relatively small portion sizes since it is quite high in calories.

This loaf should be easy for cats with any kind of teeth problems to eat, but digestion might be another question. This formula is high in protein and low in fiber, which can be a recipe for digestion issues when your cat first changes food, but they should adjust to this over time.

 

Pros

  • High-quality protein
  • Single protein source
  • Grain-free
  • Easy to eat
  • Fortified with vitamins, minerals, and taurine

 

Cons

  • High-calorie
  • Low in fiber

 

Overall: Easy Eating Protein

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Now Fresh Grain-Free Senior Weight Management Recipe Dry Cat Food

This dry formula is made from a variety of high-quality meat sources, including turkey, salmon, and duck, with no meat by-products, which is best for senior cats. It is also grain-free, minimizing the presence of obvious stomach irritants. However, the resulting formula is lower in protein than I would prefer for my cat, but also low in calories, which is good for managing an older cat’s weight.

The formula is full of the essential vitamins and minerals that cats need, taken from natural sources, including a wide array of fruits and vegetables. It is also enriched with prebiotics and probiotics to aid in digestion.

It does not appear that the formula has reduced sodium and phosphorus levels. This is fine for most older cats, but cats with kidney problems should probably have different food.

 

Pros

  • High-quality protein
  • Grain-free
  • Vitamins and minerals from natural sources
  • Low-calorie
  • Added prebiotics and probiotics

 

Cons

  • Moderate protein
  • Relatively high in sodium and phosphorus

 

Overall: Weight Management and Digestion

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Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Senior Farm-Raised Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

This calorie-controlled dry food is made from farm-raised chicken, but they use the whole chicken, including chicken meal. The resulting formula is pretty high in fat, but this should be offset by the fact it is fairly low in calories.

The formula also has a lot of fiber, which is especially good for cats that have a tendency to develop hairballs, which can become a bigger problem in old age. It is also fortified with additional calcium for strong bones and joints.

It does contain grains, so it is not ideal for cats that find this problematic, but it is also free from artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and other nasty chemicals, so there should be nothing artificial that could irritate your cat’s immune system.

Pros

  • Single protein source
  • Low calorie
  • High in natural fiber
  • Added calcium
  • No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives

 

Cons

  • Contains grains
  • High in fat

 

Overall: Older Indoor Cats

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Merrick Purrfect Bistro Grain-Free Healthy Senior Recipe Dry Cat Food

This dry formula from Merrick is full of excellent animal protein from chicken and turkey, including meal, which makes up 70% of the recipe. It is also grain-free and high in fiber. This combines to make it a highly digestible formula. However, it should be fed to your cat in moderation as it is also high in fat.

The formula has added vitamins, minerals, and taurine to make sure your cat is getting the nutrients that it needs and is also enriched with antioxidants, which should help protect them against degenerative conditions.

 

Pros

  • High in animal protein
  • Grain-free
  • Added vitamins, minerals and taurine
  • High in fiber
  • High in antioxidants

 

Cons

  • High in fat
  • Includes meal

 

Overall: Antioxidant Protection

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Wellness Complete Health Senior Health Debones Chicken and Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Cat Food

While this formula from Wellness is low in calories, it is also high in fat, so should be fed to your cat in moderation. However, this is offset a bit by the inclusion of l-Carnitine, which is designed to boost your cat’s metabolism, making them more active and less likely to put on weight. It is high in protein, mostly from deboned chicken, which is a great source for older cats, though it does also contain chicken and herring meal.

This formula is enriched with the same vitamins, minerals, and taurine seen in most senior cat foods. It is also rich in prebiotics and probiotics to ensure a healthy stomach and good digestion.

 

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Grain-free
  • Added vitamins, minerals and taurine
  • Added probiotics and prebiotics
  • Metabolism boosting L-Carnitine

 

Cons

  • Contains meal
  • High in fat

 

Overall: Metabolism Boosting Energy

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IAMS ProActive Health Healthy Senior Dry Cat Food

Whereas older cats who have lost some of their teeth can struggle with dry food, older cats that still have a full set need support for maintaining their healthy teeth. This IAMS formula is specially formulated with crunchy kibble to reduce plaque build-up and keep teeth healthier for longer.

While this food is quite high in calories and fat, it should not be too much of a problem for relatively active older cats. They will also get a boost from the metabolism enhancing l-Carnitine included in the formula.

It does contain grains, which can be problematic for some cats with sensitive stomachs. However, it should be relatively easy to digest overall as it is high in fiber and contains prebiotics to promote stomach health.

 

Pros

  • Added vitamins, minerals and taurine
  • Metabolism boosting l-Carnitine
  • High in fiber
  • Added prebiotics
  • Improves dental health

 

Cons

  • Contains grains
  • High-calorie and high in fat

 

Overall: Healthy Teeth

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old cat

The Health Issues of Senior Cats

Cats are generally considered to have entered the senior period of their lives at around 11 or 12 years. Of course, this differs for every individual cat, and can also vary a lot by breed. When they enter these older years, they may start experiencing a variety of health issues which will need to be discussed individually with a vet. But when it comes to diet, there are a few common problems that older cats experience:

  • Developing Food Allergies: Older cats can often develop issues digesting fats and proteins that they have eaten all their lives. If they develop an allergy, this food will have to be removed from their diet.
  • Developing Food Sensitivities: If your cat develops a sensitivity rather than an allergy, they can still eat the food, but they may be absorbing less nutrition from it than they need. This means that older cats need more high-quality digestible protein such as muscle and organ meat over meal and by-products.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Deficit: Sensitive stomach issues mean that older cats may not be effectively absorbing all the vitamins and minerals in their food, which again can lead to deficits. This means that older cats generally need food enriched with additional vitamins and minerals. Added antioxidants can also help protect cats against premature aging.
  • Digestion Issues: Older cats can develop digestion problems that are just unpleasant and smelly. Common irritants such as grains and artificial additives should be avoided. Alongside this, older cats benefit from high fiber foods and added prebiotics and probiotics to improve their overall digestive process.
  • Kidney Issues: Older cats are susceptible to developing kidney problems, which are exacerbated by excess sodium and phosphorus in their food. Good foods for senior cats will control levels of sodium and phosphorus.
  • Dehydration: Older cats have a tendency to drink less water and therefore need to absorb more water from their food.
  • Dental Health: Like humans, cats tend to lose their teeth as they get older. While they might be fine if they are only missing one or two, any more than that and they can find it difficult to chew. Older cats with dental problems may need easy-to-chew foods.
  • Weight gain: Older cats are generally less active and have less energy as they age. This means that if they continue on the same diet, they can put on weight quickly and become fat, which can lead to other health problems. Many senior cats need a calorie-controlled diet.

 

Final Thoughts

As every cat is different, and which senior cat food is best for your senior cat depends on their individual age issues. If they do not have any particular health issues and they are just getting a little older and lazier, I recommend Blue Buffalo Freedom Indoor Grain-Free wet cat food and Now Fresh Grain Free Senior Cat Weight Management.

If they are having problems with their teeth, they will appreciate how Royal Canin Aging 12+ Thin Slices in Gravy wet food is easy to eat. If they are still eating like a kitten and putting weight, then the Nutro Senior wet cat food will help them learn to adjust their eating habits. If they could just use a bit more energy, then IAMS proactive Senior dry cat food should help them maintain their weight and feel a bit more spry.

Only you will know when they are starting to enter their senior years. From around the age of 10, you should probably keep a closer eye on them. If they become increasingly fussy with their food and are regurgitating their food or experiencing diarrhea or constipation more frequently, this can be a sign that they need to start transitioning to senior food.

Just as when you transition your cat onto any new food, do it gradually over a week or so, starting with just 20% new food, and increase the proportion day by day.

As your cat gets older, unless you are feeding them low-calorie food, you may also want to start feeding them less. You should also start reducing the amount of food that you give them gradually over time. A sudden reduction in their rations will just leave them feeling unsatisfied, and they may well start to protest!

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Kristen Chapple

Kristen Chapple

Hi I'm Kristen, cat lover and blogger. I was born into a cat-loving family and have been a proud kitty mommy ever since I can remember. I love sharing my cat knowledge and love being an active part of the kitty-loving community.