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Older cats have special dietary needs, so they need cat food just for them. As cats get older, they become less active, so they don’t need as much fat and calories in their food. Senior cats also need plenty of high-quality protein in their diet.
There are many different choices of quality cat food on the market, but it can be overwhelming to decide which is best for your elderly kitty.
We’ve researched for you and created a list of reviews of the best cat food for older cats. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide that lists the important components of older cat food.
Ready to find the best food for your senior cat? Then read on for our recommendations.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 10 Best Cat Food for Older Cats — Reviews 2020
1. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food — Best Overall
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food is our best overall choice because the food is specially-formulated for indoor, senior cats. Because cats need plenty of protein, chicken is the first ingredient. There are no artificial ingredients. The food contains natural fiber to promote good digestion, which some older cats struggle with. It also has optimum levels of nutrients for eye, heart, kidney, and joint health. These are all areas that senior cats start to have problems with as they get older.
For some older cats with dental problems, the kibble size is too large.
2. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Cat Food — Best Value
The Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Cat Food is the best cat food for older cats for the money because it’s made with high-quality ingredients. The food is non-GMO, and it contains no corn, wheat, or soy protein. These ingredients have been known to cause inflammation and allergies in older cats, so it’s good that this food focuses on protein from meat. The food also has no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. It’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coats.
Some cats refuse to eat this food.
3. Merrick Purrfect Bistro Dry Cat Food — Premium Choice
Merrick Purrfect Bistro Dry Cat Food is our premium choice because it’s fortified with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and antioxidants. Your older cat may have depletions of these nutrients in its body, so it’s helpful for the food to provide them with a good source of vitamins. This food is also rich in omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It contains added fiber for hairball control and good digestion. The number one ingredient in this food is deboned chicken, which is what cats need most. The food also is free from gluten, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
This food is expensive, though. It can also cause digestive upset in some sensitive cats.
4. Iams Proactive Health Dry Cat Food
Iams Proactive Health Dry Cat Food has chicken as the first ingredient to give your senior cat the high-protein diet it needs. It also has Vitamin E and antioxidants to support your older cat’s immune system. The food also has L-carnitine to help senior cats maintain a healthy weight, which can be a struggle as your cat gets older. The crunchy kibble is good for reducing plaque buildup. This food is also free from fillers to give your cat high-quality nutrition.
This food has caused digestive upset, especially constipation, in some cats. Some cats also refuse to eat this food.
5. Blue Buffalo Healthy Mature Dry Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Healthy Mature Dry Cat Food has essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help support your senior cat’s immune system. It also has taurine to help keep your older cat’s eyes and heart healthy. The food supplies high-quality protein from deboned chicken. It also has natural sources of fiber to help absorb the nutrients from the food and support your older cat’s digestive health. It also contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for shiny coats and healthy skin.
This food can cause digestive problems in some cats. Other cats refuse to eat this food at all.
6. Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Dry Cat Food
Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Dry Cat Food contains antioxidants, beta carotene, and Vitamin E to provide your older cat with essential nutrients. The food also has prebiotic fiber from chicory root to aid in digestion. Chicken is the first ingredient to provide your older cat with the protein it needs to stay healthy. It also has omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coats.
This food can cause digestive problems in some sensitive cats. This food is very concentrated and rich, so it can cause even older cats to gain weight quickly.
7. Royal Canin Wet Cat Food
Royal Canin Wet Cat Food is ideal for older kitties struggling with dental issues. It has pork, chicken, and chicken liver slices in gravy that are easy to chew. The food contains omega-3 fatty acids to help maintain healthy joints. It also has specially-controlled phosphorus levels to support your older cat’s kidney health. The food is made with highly-quality proteins to support healthy digestion.
This food is expensive, especially since the can sizes are small. Some cats refuse to eat this food.
8. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Mature Dry Cat Food
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Mature Dry Cat Food has deboned chicken, chicken meal, and fish meal to give your older cat the high-quality protein it needs to stay healthy. This food contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coats. It also has natural fiber to aid in your older cat’s digestion. Since older cats can lose nutrients easily, it contains essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
This food can cause digestive problems in some cats. Because of its low moisture content, it can also cause urinary problems in some cats. Cats sometimes refuse to eat this food.
9. Purina Pro Plan Canned Wet Cat Food
Purina Pro Plan Canned Wet Cat Food is made with real salmon and tuna. The food provides essential nutrients to support a healthy immune system. It also has omega fatty acids to help support healthy skin and coats. Wet food provides the moisture that older cats need.
This food has a strong, fishy odor. It can cause urinary problems in some cats. Some cats have also experienced an allergic reaction to this food. It can also cause digestive problems.
10. Nulo Grain Free Dry Cat Food
Nulo Grain Free Dry Cat Food contains Alaska pollock and duck for high-quality protein older cats need. It also has natural fibers and probiotics for good digestive health. This food contains L-carnitine to help your older cat maintain a healthy weight.
This food is expensive, especially for the larger bag size. It can cause digestive problems in some cats. It can also cause hair shedding. Some cats refuse to eat this food. The kibbles are dry and hard to eat, so you may need to add water.
Older cats have special dietary needs to take into consideration when shopping for high-quality cat food. The best food for older cats will meet all of these needs to keep your senior kitty healthy and active.
To help you know exactly what to look for in older cat food, we’ve created a buyer’s guide that lists both common problems unique to older cats as well as what they need from senior cat food.
Older Cat Problems
Like humans, cats start having various health issues as they get older. Some of the most common concerns are:
Loss of Interest in Food
Older cats start losing their ability to smell and taste. This makes it hard for them to eat because food loses its appeal. It’s not fun to eat food if you can’t smell or taste it!
Older cats may have trouble chewing because of dental problems. They may have missing teeth, gum disease, or loose teeth. Pain and discomfort may make them less likely to eat.
You might think metabolism would slow with age, but in older cats, it’s actually the opposite. With an increase in metabolism, loss of interest in food, and eating smaller portions, it can be hard to keep weight on your senior cat.
Older cats can suffer from vitamin deficiency from eating less or dealing with an illness. One vitamin in particular that older, skinny cats are deficient in is thiamine.
Older cats have problems with digestion. It becomes harder for them to absorb nutrients from the food they eat. They also struggle to digest fat, which can lead to excessive weight loss.
Older cats become more susceptible to disease and illness as they get older. They are especially prone to arthritis, kidney disease, heart problems, or liver problems. If you know your senior kitty is dealing with a specific health problem, then it’s important to choose food that will ease the symptoms.
Older cats eat less food and drink less water, so they are prone to dehydration. Not having enough water makes them much more susceptible to kidney disease, so older cats must get plenty of water from their diet.
Older Cat Food Considerations
Because of all the health concerns with older cats, there are certain dietary requirements to look for in their food.
Older cat food should provide plenty of water to make up for your cat’s lack of interest in eating and drinking. This helps prevent dehydration.
Soft or Bite-Size Foods
Soft food for older cats is a great way to provide extra moisture and make it easier for a cat with dental problems to chew. Dry food is another good option, but it should have small, easy-to-chew pieces.
Older cats need plenty of protein as they age, and it should come from a high-quality source like whole muscle meat, bones, and organs.
Older cats struggle with digesting fats, but they still need plenty of them to maintain a good weight and have a healthy coat. Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to ensure your senior kitty is getting the fat it needs.
Antioxidants can help support an aging cat’s immune system. A food with antioxidants is especially helpful for cats dealing with various illnesses.
No Artificial Ingredients
The food shouldn’t have any artificial colors, flavors, or additives that might upset your older cat’s delicate digestive system. Cats also don’t need carbohydrates or vegetables, so food without grains, corn, or soy is the best choice.
Our best overall choice is Hill’s 2530 Science Diet Dry Cat Food because it has the nutrients your older cat needs for good health. It has extra fiber to aid in digestion and nutrients that support your cat’s eye, heart, kidney, and joint health. High-quality protein is also the first ingredient.
Our best value choice is the Nutro 10204058 Wholesome Essentials Dry Cat Food because it’s made specifically for older cats with no artificial ingredients. Chicken is the first ingredient to give your senior cat the protein and taurine it needs. It also is non-GMO and contains no corn, wheat, or soy protein.
To keep your older cat healthy and thriving for the rest of its life, you need high-quality senior cat food. We hope our list of reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you find the best food for your older kitty.
Featured Image Credit: Merrick, Chewy
Roland has been an animal lover all his life, with cats holding a special place in his heart. He is owned by three felines: Wheely, KitzKitz, and Nugget (all rescues) who bring all the laughter and mischievousness one can expect from the feline master race. As the creator of ExcitedCats, his mission is to assist in the search for the best gear to help improve the health and wellbeing of cats everywhere.