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Senior cats need delicious, calorie-dense meals that are loaded with high-quality nutrition. That entails plenty of ultra-digestible protein, anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe achy joints, and a soft texture that’s easy on bad teeth.
After researching the needs of senior cats and studying the market, we’ve chosen Smalls Fresh Ground Bird as the best cat food for senior cats. With an abundance of nourishing animal-based protein, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and not too much phosphorus for aging kidneys, this food has all the qualities we seek in a senior diet.
Here, we cover our top choices for food for senior cats, and what to consider when shopping for your aging feline.
At a Glance: Best Senior Cat Food To Buy
- Low carbohydrate content
- Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
- Free from potentially inflammatory artificial additives
- Calorie-dense to support lean muscle mass
- Easily digestible animal ingredients
- Relatively low carbohydrate content
Why Trust Cats.com?
We’ve reviewed over 224 cat food brands, including the biggest brands on the planet. We’ve read customer reviews, spoken with market insiders, and tested foods hands-on. Based on that research, we’re bringing you an updated list of the best cat food brands and products in the industry.
The following foods earn their place with outstanding ingredient quality, nutritional merits, and safety records. All of the foods on this list were chosen with senior needs in mind then purchased at full retail price and tested with our own cats. Thes foods are rich in biologically-appropriate animal protein, feature minimally processed ingredients, and have a soft, moist consistency that’s easy to eat.
In addition to performing our own qualitative analysis of the brands reviewed here, we submitted samples for analysis at an ISO 17025 certified food testing and analysis lab. Analytical testing provides the exact nutrient content of the recipe and reveals the presence of microbes, yeast, mold, and heavy metals.
The 5 Best Cat Food for Older Cats
Our top pick for senior cats is Smalls fresh cat food. Made with human-grade ingredients in a protein-rich, high-moisture formula, this recipe is nutritious and easy for older cats to chew.
We consider a variety of factors when determining our rankings. While Smalls is our top pick, it might not be ideal for your unique cat. Every cat has different needs and preferences, so we’ve broken categorized our recommendations to help you choose the right food for your senior cat.
What To Look for When Shopping for Food for Senior Cats
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) , a cat enters the senior stage at age 10. That said, many practitioners consider a cat a senior starting at age 8. While nutritious food is essential for your cat at any age, it’s particularly important as they enter their golden years.
Your cat’s core nutritional requirements don’t change after they transition from kitten to adult, but key aspects of senior cat health might affect their ideal diet. Here’s what to consider when looking for healthy food options for your older cat.
Look at the Animal-Based Protein Content
Protein is essential for many bodily functions, such as metabolism and tissue repair. And while protein is the cornerstone of every cat’s diet, it’s doubly important for senior cats as their ability to absorb nutrients and metabolize energy declines.
Maintaining muscle mass becomes increasingly difficult with age. An estimated 50% of senior cars are underweight. Providing a protein-rich diet helps spare the breakdown of body proteins. Animal-sourced protein is the most biologically valuable to your cat and it’s more digestible than plant-sourced protein.
Make Sure It’s a Kidney-Friendly Diet
Kidney failure is the most common condition ailing senior cats. While you don’t necessarily need to put a healthy senior cat on a prescription renal diet, all senior cats can benefit from a kidney-friendly diet.
Sadly, many cat foods contain several times the minimum requirement of phosphorus. Growing research done in recent years suggests that excessive dietary phosphorus is linked to kidney damage in cats.Keeping phosphorus close to AAFCO’s minimum required amount (0.5% on a dry matter basis) will help prevent and control your kitty’s kidney damage.
Consider Foods That Are Palatable and Easy To Chew
Because many cats lose their interest in food as they age, it’s important to stimulate their desire to eat. Warm, moist foods with strong aromas can point your cat in the right direction. A sprinkle of bonito flakes or a splash of bone broth can also encourage your older cat to get the food they need.
Dental problems can make chewing a challenge for senior cats, so it’s a good idea to select moist, soft foods that are easy for your cat to chew and digest. As senior cats have a higher predisposition toward dehydration, high-moisture foods can also help your kitty get the hydration they need.
Include Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients
Bone and joint problems become increasingly common as cats age, so including anti-inflammatory and joint-supporting ingredients in your cat’s diet is essential. Look for foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids from animal sources. Salmon oil, krill oil, menhaden fish oil, and green-lipped mussels are excellent sources of these inflammation-easing fatty acids.
Your senior cat’s food also shouldn’t contain anything that will make inflammation worse. Avoid potentially-inflammatory ingredients like artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and carrageenan.
The right diet plays a vital role in ensuring that your cat is at his best through every stage of life. In addition to the foods listed above, any nutrient-dense, meat-based food will help your senior thrive. Consult with your veterinarian if you need help finding the diet that’s most appropriate for your senior cat.
Frequently Asked Questions
What food is best for senior cats?
The best food for senior cats should be nutrient dense, meat-based, support kidney health, help control inflammation, and are very easy to eat. Plus, they should be moist and easy on the stomach.
How can I keep my senior cat healthy?
Routine veterinary checkups are essential for senior cat health. It’s also important to provide a high-protein, calorie-dense diet that provides the nutritional balance required for adult cats. Consider as well whether it may help your cat to make adjustments to their environment—like making their food and litter box easier to reach. While a senior cat’s energy might dip, daily play and mental stimulation is still a must.
Is wet food better for senior cats?
Wet food may be easier for older cats with dental problems to chew. The additional moisture also helps boost hydration and support healthy digestion.