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10 Best Foods for Cats With Dental Disease

comments-icon Medically reviewed by  Dr. Lizzie Youens BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS
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Kate Barrington / Cats.com

Dental disease in cats is incredibly common—affecting as many as 90% of cats over the age of three. Cat food alone cannot prevent or cure your cat’s dental disease, but diet is an important piece of the puzzle. Dental disease is known to be very painful and progressive, so it’s important to seek veterinary advice if your cat shows any signs of mouth problems.

I have three cats, all seniors now, and two have undergone extractions due to tooth resorption. Though the cause of this particular form of dental disease is unknown, experts suggest that, by supporting overall health, proper nutrition may help protect your cat’s oral health as well.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the topic of feline dental health from a nutrition perspective and provide vet-approved recommendations to help you protect your cat’s teeth.

At a Glance: Top 10 Best Cat Food for Dental Health

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Overall Best
10.0
Picked by 31 people today!

Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

  • Rich in animal-sourced protein and fat
  • Very low carbohydrate content
  • Rehydrated texture is easy to chew
Get 20% Off ENTER "CATS20" TO GET 20% OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER
Premium Pick
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

  • Made with 98% rabbit meat, organs, and bone
  • Easy to rehydrate in water or broth
  • Meaty texture is easy to chew
Budget Pick
9.7
Picked by 25 people today!

Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Wet Cat Food

  • Contains 50% dry matter protein
  • Smooth pate texture is easy to chew
  • Rich in hydrating moisture
Best Prescription
9.6
Picked by 21 people today!

Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food

  • VOHC-accepted for plaque and tartar control
  • Large kibbles encourage chewing
  • Appealing chicken flavor
Best Dry Food
9.5
Picked by 18 people today!

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel and Lamb Recipe Cat Food

  • Made with 96% whole seafood, lamb, and organs
  • Contains over 50% dry matter protein
  • Novel protein formula
Best Fresh Food
9.5
Picked by 31 people today!

Smalls Ground Bird Fresh Cat Food

  • Fresh cat food delivered to your door
  • Made with a single protein source
  • Multiple flavors and textures available
Get 35% Off ENTER "CATS35" TO GET 35% OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER
Best for Cats with Bad Teeth
9.4
Picked by 31 people today!

Tiki Cat Luau Velvet Mousse with Chicken in Broth Grain-Free Wet Cat Food

  • Smooth mousse doesn’t require chewing
  • Rich in animal-sourced protein
  • Good source of hydrating moisture
Best for Picky Cats
9.3
Picked by 25 people today!

Caru Classics Turkey Stew Wet Cat Food

  • Flavor appeals to many cats
  • Very smooth texture
  • Rich in hydrating moisture
Best for Kittens
9.2
Picked by 21 people today!

Wellness CORE Kitten Turkey & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Cat Food

  • Soft pate texture is easy to eat
  • Rich in animal-sourced protein and fats
  • Good source of DHA for kittens
Best for Senior Cats
9.1
Picked by 18 people today!

Tiki Cat Silver Mousse + Shreds Chicken, Duck & Duck Liver Recipe in Broth

  • Dual texture is easy to chew
  • Rich source of hydrating moisture
  • Relies primarily on animal protein

Can Cat Food Solve Dental Health Problems?

If you don’t spend much time examining your cat’s teeth, you’re not alone. In fact, Dr. Amber Carter, DVM, DABVP, a board-certified Feline Practice veterinarian and the owner of CatVetLife, comments that “dental disease commonly goes unnoticed by cat owners until there is significant bad breath or problems chewing.”

My cats’ teeth always looked clean enough, but I knew something was wrong when Bagel started flinching if I touched her jawline. It turned out that several of her teeth were damaged enough to require extraction. She’s now a few teeth short of a full set but happily pain-free.

I asked Dr. Carter whether a particular type of food is best for a cat’s teeth. She says that the canned food versus dry food discussion has pros and cons on both sides. Crunching on kibble could have an abrasive effect that gently scrapes away the plaque on cats’ teeth, but most cats swallow their food whole. There’s simply no solid evidence that a dry food diet alone provides more significant dental benefits than other diets.

“For a cat with significant dental disease,” Dr. Carter says, “wet food is easier to chew while awaiting appropriate dental care.” And if your cat has already been diagnosed with dental disease or has had teeth extractions, soft food is likely to be easiest on their mouth. She also notes that canned cat food has many other benefits outside of oral health.

The bottom line is there is no “best” cat food for dental health. Dr. Carter says, “The best diet for any given cat is the one that the owner and veterinarian have chosen for that specific cat and their overall health needs.”

Best Cat Foods for Dental Disease

When it comes to protecting your cat’s dental health, there’s no substitute for daily toothbrushing and routine oral exams. If your cat finds eating or chewing painful, it’s important to seek veterinary advice. And if your cat has existing dental problems, they’ll need a veterinary assessment and treatment plan. That said, a balanced diet that supports your cat’s overall health will benefit their dental health as well.

Certain types of food may be more comfortable for cats with existing dental problems to eat. Cats with painful mouths may avoid certain foods or lose their appetites, so softer foods can help them enjoy their meals more. Your veterinarian can advise you on your cat’s specific needs, but we’ve assembled a list of nutritionally balanced foods for cats of all ages, with unique preferences, and in different stages of dental disease.

#1 Overall Best: Open Farm Harvest Chicken Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 47% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 149
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.75

Made with humanely raised and sustainably sourced ingredients, Open Farm freeze-dried raw food is my top pick. Not only is it a single-protein formula with minimal carbohydrate content, but it’s made with a carnivore-friendly blend of muscle meat, organs, and ground bone.

This chicken-based freeze-dried formula comes in small, lightweight pellets. The formula is very low in moisture but the product is intended to be rehydrated before feeding. I like to crush the pellets before soaking them to speed up the process.

Once rehydrated, this food has a shredded meat-like texture that is easy to chew. My cats really enjoyed the flavor and I appreciated the convenience of the resealable pouch.

Ingredients

Chicken with Ground Bone, Chicken Liver, Chicken Neck, Montmorillonite Clay, Organic Dandelion Greens, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin) Taurine, Organic Cranberries, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite) Salt, Salmon Oil, Mixed Tocopherols, Magnesium Sulfate, Rosemary Extract.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken with Ground Bone, Chicken Liver, Chicken Neck, Salmon Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 47%
Crude Fat: 40%
Crude Fiber: 5%
Moisture: 5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 49.47%
Fat: 42.11%
Fiber: 5.26%
Carbs: 3.16%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 31.94%
Fat: 66.02%
Carbs: 2.04%

What We Liked

  • Carnivore-appropriate blend of muscle meat, organs, and bone
  • Lightweight pellets rehydrate quickly
  • Very low carbohydrate content
  • Rich in animal-sourced protein and fat

What We Didn’t Like

  • Low moisture content, should be rehydrated
  • Can be expensive

#2 Premium Pick: Stella & Chewy’s Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Morsels Freeze-Dried Raw Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 44% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 132
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $6.00

Similar to the previous product, this Stella & Chewy’s formula is a single-protein freeze-dried raw cat food. It features 98% rabbit muscle meat, organs, and bone, making it a good option for cats who are allergic or sensitive to other common proteins.

As a freeze-dried product, this recipe is low in moisture until you rehydrate it. The nuggets are much larger than the Open Farm formula but still easy to crush and soak in water or broth. My cats love the flavor and seem to find the meaty texture easy to chew.

This recipe contains over 46% protein and 31% fat, both measured as dry matter and provides 132 calories per ounce. It’s a pricey option, but its caloric density equates to fairly small portion sizes and you only need to rehydrate as much as you plan to feed.

Ingredients

Rabbit With Ground Bone, Rabbit Liver, Olive Oil, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Dried Ediococcus Acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Coagulans Fermentation Product, Taurine, Tocopherols (Preservative), Dandelion, Dried Kelp, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Sodium Selenite, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Ingredients We Liked: Rabbit with Ground Bone, Rabbit Liver

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 44%
Crude Fat: 30%
Crude Fiber: 5%
Moisture: 5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 46.32%
Fat: 31.58%
Fiber: 5.26%
Carbs: 16.84%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 33.12%
Fat: 54.84%
Carbs: 12.04%

What We Liked

  • Made with 98% rabbit meat, organs, and bone
  • Easy to rehydrate in water or broth
  • Meaty texture is easy to chew

What We Didn’t Like

  • Can be expensive
  • Low in moisture, should be rehydrated

#3 Budget Pick: Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Wet Cat Food

Nulo Freestyle Turkey & Chicken Recipe Wet Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 11% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 35
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $1.98

Canned cat food offers a shelf-life comparable to freeze-dried food, but it tends to be less expensive. This Nulo Freestyle formula is an economical option and one of my cats’ favorites. It’s full of hydrating moisture and contains 50% protein, measured as dry matter.

Turkey, chicken, and tuna make up the bulk of this recipe. Turkey liver provides animal-sourced essential nutrients, while menhaden fish oil offers plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. The food has a smooth pate-style texture and it’s fairly low in carbohydrates.

Unlike many grain-free foods, this recipe doesn’t contain hard-to-digest beans and legumes. It is, however, thickened with guar gum which has been known to contribute to loose stools in some cats. It’s wise to transition your cat slowly when switching to this food.

Ingredients

Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Liver, Turkey Broth, Tuna, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Agar Agar, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Salt, Iron Proteinate, Sodium Carbonate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Liver, Tuna, Menhaden Fish Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Guar Gum

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 6.5%
Crude Fiber: 0.75%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 50%
Fat: 29.55%
Fiber: 3.41%
Carbs: 17.05%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 36.02%
Fat: 51.7%
Carbs: 12.28%

What We Liked

  • Contains 50% dry matter protein
  • Smooth pate texture is easy to chew
  • Rich in hydrating moisture
  • Economically priced

What We Didn’t Like

  • Guar gum may trigger loose stools in some cats

#4 Best Prescription: Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 30% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 101
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $0.97

Prescription cat foods frequently make heavy use of cereals and plant proteins, which makes them less than nutritionally ideal. However, they’re backed by clinical studies which, in the case of this recipe, support the dental health claims. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) gave this food its stamp of approval in plaque and tartar control.

Featuring chicken by-product meal as the primary ingredient, a significant amount of this recipe’s protein likely comes from the corn gluten meal. The food is high in carbohydrates and low in moisture but the large kibbles are specifically designed to encourage chewing. Not only did I find my cats having to chew this food, but they primarily used their back teeth, which I’ve often had trouble reaching with a toothbrush.

While not an ideal cat food product on its own merit, this prescription diet has a strong reputation among cat owners, and my own cats seemed to enjoy it. If your veterinarian recommends a prescription dental diet, this may be an effective option.

Ingredients

Chicken By-Product Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Powdered Cellulose, Pork Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Calcium Sulfate, Lactic Acid, Soybean Oil, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Calcium Carbonate, Iodized Salt, Taurine, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene.

Ingredients We Liked: Pork Fat

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Soybean Oil

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 30%
Crude Fat: 13%
Crude Fiber: 11%
Moisture: 10.5%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 33.52%
Fat: 14.53%
Fiber: 12.29%
Carbs: 39.66%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 30.91%
Fat: 32.52%
Carbs: 36.57%

What We Liked

  • VOHC-accepted for plaque and tartar control
  • Large kibbles encourage chewing
  • Cats seem to like the chicken flavor

What We Didn’t Like

  • No dry food provides the moisture your cat needs
  • Requires a prescription to purchase

#5 Best Dry Food: Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel and Lamb Recipe Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: New Zealand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 44% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 129
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $2.51

While dry cat food doesn’t provide the hydrating moisture your cat would get from canned food or rehydrated freeze-dried food, some cats just like it better. I chose this air-dried recipe as an alternative to traditional kibble because it’s packed with species-appropriate nutrition. I also liked that it’s made with novel proteins.

Unlike traditional kibble, Ziwi Peak air-dried cat food is not exposed to high heat during processing. It’s composed of 96% whole mackerel (including bone), lamb muscle meat, and lamb organs. In addition to a dry matter protein content of over 50%, this formula provides animal-sourced omega-3s and joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin.

Instead of round kibbles, this air-dried food comes in small square pieces. The low moisture content gives it an almost jerky-like texture which may encourage some cats to chew it, though the texture may vary from one batch to another.

If your cat has a favorite kibble but now struggles to eat it, try adding bone broth to their bowl. You can pour some over their kibble or soak the kibble for a while before serving it to them.

Ingredients

Whole Mackerel, Lamb, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Lung, Lamb Heart, Lamb Liver, New Zealand Green Mussel, Lamb Kidney, Lamb Spleen, Lamb Bone, Lecithin, Inulin (from Chicory Root), Dried Apple Pomace, Minerals (Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex), Lamb Cartilage, Dried Organic Kelp, Salt, Preservative (Citric Acid, Mixed Tocopherols), DL-Methionine, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine.

Ingredients We Liked: Whole Mackerel, Lamb, Lamb Tripe, Lamb Lung, Lamb Heart, Lamb Liver, New Zealand Green Mussel, Lamb Kidney, Lamb Spleen, Lamb Bone

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 44%
Crude Fat: 24%
Crude Fiber: 3%
Moisture: 14%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 51.16%
Fat: 27.91%
Fiber: 3.49%
Carbs: 17.44%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 37.52%
Fat: 49.7%
Carbs: 12.79%

What We Liked

  • Made with 96% whole seafood, lamb, and organs
  • Contains over 50% dry matter protein
  • Novel protein formula

What We Didn’t Like

  • Low in moisture
  • Can be expensive

#6 Best Fresh Food: Smalls Ground Bird Fresh Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 13% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 40
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $4.00

If you appreciate the convenience of delivery, Smalls fresh cat food may be a good option. Smalls offers a selection of single-protein fresh cat food formulas in several textures, all packaged in 5-ounce packets. They come frozen, so just thaw one or two at a time in the fridge.

This Ground Bird formula from Smalls features a smooth pate-style texture that is easy for cats to chew. It contains a protein-rich blend of chicken muscle meat and chicken liver with cod liver oil as the primary source of added fat. The food is free from hard-to-digest legumes and contains under 15% dry matter carbohydrate.

I ordered a sample pack of all of Smalls’ formulas for testing and my cats seemed to enjoy them all, though Ground Bird was their favorite. I found the packets easy to open and a single 5-ounce pack was about enough to feed one cat for a day.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Liver, Green Beans, Water Sufficient for Processing, Dried Yeast, Tricalcium Phosphate, Kale, Magnesium Proteinate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Dandelion Greens, Dried Kelp, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Cod Liver Oil, Salt, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Sodium Selenite, Biotin.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Cod Liver Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: None

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 13%
Crude Fat: 8.5%
Crude Fiber: 1.5%
Moisture: 73%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 48.15%
Fat: 31.48%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 14.81%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 34.54%
Fat: 54.84%
Carbs: 10.63%

What We Liked

  • Variety of single-protein fresh food formulas
  • Conveniently packaged in 5-ounce packs
  • Smooth pate texture is easy for cats to chew
  • Fairly low in carbohydrates

What We Didn’t Like

  • Only available via subscription
  • Smalls doesn’t offer phone support

#7 Best for Cats with Bad Teeth: Tiki Cat Luau Velvet Mousse with Chicken in Broth Grain-Free Wet Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 12% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 28
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $5.00

Cats with advanced dental disease may not be able to chew comfortably, which makes a smooth, mousse-like product like this Tiki Cat recipe ideal. If your cat cannot eat normally, always seek advice from a veterinarian and consider their diet: dental disease can be a source of chronic pain.

Tiki Cat features chicken muscle meat and dried egg as the primary ingredients, with chicken broth for flavor and hydrating moisture. It contains 60% protein and about 25% fat, both measured as dry matter. Though very low in carbohydrates, the food relies primarily on plant-sourced fat. It seems to be easily digestible for most cats, however, and my cats certainly enjoyed it.

My one criticism of this product is that the packets are not resealable. At 79 calories per pouch, however, you’ll likely use a whole pouch in one serving.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Dried Egg, Sunflower Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid (Source Of Vitamin C), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Iodate, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin K3 Supplement.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Dried Egg

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Sunflower Oil

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 80%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 60%
Fat: 25%
Fiber: 5%
Carbs: 10%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 45.9%
Fat: 46.45%
Carbs: 7.65%

What We Liked

  • Smooth mousse doesn’t require chewing
  • Rich in animal-sourced protein
  • Good source of hydrating moisture

What We Didn’t Like

  • Packets are not resealable
  • Can be expensive

#8 Best for Picky Cats: Caru Classics Turkey Stew Wet Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 11% Min
  • Age Range: All Life Stages
  • Calories Per Ounce: 30
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.39

If your picky eater doesn’t enjoy fish flavors, this turkey-based stew might be a good option. It has a very smooth, gravy-like texture that finicky cats seem to like. The texture also makes it easy to eat, even for cats with bad teeth.

Made with turkey muscle meat and egg whites as the main ingredients, this recipe contains over 61% protein on a dry matter basis. It also provides over 30% fat (measured as dry matter), so it’s fairly energy-dense. The carbohydrate content is very low and the food is free from hard-to-digest beans and legumes.

My cats really enjoy this recipe and I appreciate that it comes in recyclable cardboard cartons. The carton can be a little messy to open sometimes, but the top can be folded over to keep leftovers fresh in the fridge.

Ingredients

Turkey, Turkey Broth, Tapioca Starch, Egg Whites, Sweet Potato, Carrots, Apples, Natural Flavor, Tricalcium Phosphate, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Dandelion Greens, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Iodine Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite).

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Egg Whites

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Tapioca Starch

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 11%
Crude Fat: 5.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 82%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 61.11%
Fat: 30.56%
Fiber: 5.56%
Carbs: 2.78%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 44.25%
Fat: 53.74%
Carbs: 2.01%

What We Liked

  • Provides over 60% dry matter protein
  • Flavor and texture appeal to many cats
  • Very smooth texture, easy to eat
  • Rich in hydrating moisture

What We Didn’t Like

  • Cartons can be messy to open

#9 Best for Kittens: Wellness CORE Kitten Turkey & Chicken Liver Recipe Canned Cat Food

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: United States
  • Guaranteed Protein: 12% Min
  • Age Range: Kitten
  • Calories Per Ounce: 36
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $3.86

Though dental disease is more common in older cats, Dr. Carter notes that it can affect cats at any age. By supporting your kitten’s healthy growth and development, you can start protecting their dental health early. This Wellness CORE formula is one of our top picks.

Featuring over 54% dry matter protein from turkey, chicken, and herring, this recipe is appealing to many cats. It’s energy-dense, offering 36 calories per ounce and a dry matter fat content of around 34%. The food is very low in carbohydrates and contains plenty of hydrating moisture.

Though formulated for kittens, this recipe could even be a good choice for underweight senior cats with dental problems. It has a smooth, easy-to-chew texture and the calorie density means your cat won’t have to eat large portions to get the energy they need.

Ingredients

Turkey, Chicken Liver, Turkey Broth, Chicken, Chicken Meal, Herring, Natural Flavor, Cranberries, Menhaden Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Guar Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Ground Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Cassia Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dried Kelp, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract.

Ingredients We Liked: Turkey, Chicken Liver, Chicken, Chicken Meal, Herring, Menhaden Fish Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Guar Gum

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 7.5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 78%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 54.55%
Fat: 34.09%
Fiber: 4.55%
Carbs: 6.82%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 37.84%
Fat: 57.43%
Carbs: 4.73%

What We Liked

  • Rich in animal-sourced protein and fat
  • Plenty of DHA for kitten eye and brain development
  • Good source of hydrating moisture
  • Energy-dense and easy to chew

What We Didn’t Like

  • Guar gum may trigger loose stools in some cats

#10 Best for Senior Cats: Tiki Cat Silver Mousse + Shreds Chicken, Duck & Duck Liver Recipe in Broth

Kate Barrington / Cats.com

  • Made In: Thailand
  • Guaranteed Protein: 12% Min
  • Age Range: Adult
  • Calories Per Ounce: 31
  • Typical Cost Per Day: $5.00

For senior cats who need soft food but still have some ability to chew comfortably, this dual-texture wet food is a popular pick. Each can contains a layer of smooth mousse topped with finely shredded meat.

This formula features muscle meat from chicken and duck as the primary ingredients with supplemental protein from duck liver and dried egg. Coconut oil is the main source of added fat, though the food also contains tuna oil as a species-appropriate source of omega-3 fatty acids.

With 60% protein and 25% fat, measured as dry matter, this recipe is low in carbohydrates and easy to digest. My cats seemed to enjoy the dual texture element and found the flavor appealing.

Ingredients

Chicken, Chicken Broth, Duck, Duck Liver, Pumpkin, Dried Egg, Coconut Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Salt, Magnesium Sulfate, Turmeric, Tuna Oil, Green Tea Extract, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Zinc Oxide, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement.

Ingredients We Liked: Chicken, Duck, Duck Liver, Dried Egg, Tuna Oil

Ingredients We Didn’t Like: Xanthan Gum

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein: 12%
Crude Fat: 5%
Crude Fiber: 1%
Moisture: 80%

Dry Matter Basis

Protein: 60%
Fat: 25%
Fiber: 5%
Carbs: 10%

Caloric Weight Basis

Protein: 45.9%
Fat: 46.45%
Carbs: 7.65%

What We Liked

  • Dual texture is easy to chew
  • Rich source of hydrating moisture
  • Relies primarily on animal protein

What We Didn’t Like

  • Can be expensive

Why Trust Cats.com

Before choosing products to test for this round-up, I consulted several veterinarians and board-certified veterinary nutritionists on the subject of dental health in cats. I also conducted in-depth research, utilizing professional resources like the Merck Veterinary Manual, to gain a deeper understanding of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of feline dental disease.

Guided by my research and veterinary advice, I selected ten cat food products for testing. I personally purchased these products and tested them at home with my three cats: Bagel, Munchkin, and Biscuit. In testing, I observed the products and gauged my cats’ responses to them. I also performed in-depth analyses of each product’s nutritional information, reviewed the brand’s history, and read hundreds of customer reviews.

What To Look for When Buying Cat Food for Dental Health

When their cat is first diagnosed with dental disease, many cat owners turn to prescription dental diets. Dr. Jamie Wittenburg, DVM, notes that while these diets “have been scientifically proven to reduce plaque and tartar on cats’ teeth”, they’re not always nutritionally ideal. In some cases, she recommends feeding cats a small amount of a prescription dental diet each day, “almost akin to brushing their teeth.”

Keeping any specific advice from your veterinarian in mind, here are some things to consider when shopping for a healthy diet for cats with dental concerns.

Look for Low Carbohydrate Content

The ideal diet for cats is meat-based with limited carbohydrate content. Dr. Whittenburg notes that dry cat food is typically higher in carbohydrates (and more calorically dense) than wet food. Look for a formula made primarily with animal-sourced proteins and fats, ideally aiming for a dry-matter carbohydrate content under 10%.

Prioritize High-Moisture Recipes

Hydration is essential for your cat’s overall health but high-moisture foods also tend to be easier for cats with dental health concerns to eat. If your cat experiences dental pain, look for a smooth, pate-style food or even a mousse.

Verify Marketing Claims

Claims on cat food labels can be confusing and they aren’t always backed by scientific data. Dr. Whittenburg recommends that cat owners consult their veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist for advice before selecting a cat food product that claims to provide specific health benefits. If your vet recommends a dental diet, look for a seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council to verify the claim.

Dr. Carter notes that prescription dental diets are “most likely to be effective on a mouth that is clean to begin with.” In other words, they may be most beneficial for cats who have undergone a professional dental cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dental foods work for cats?

The theory behind many dry dental cat foods is that the crushed kibble will remove plaque and tartar as it rubs against the cat’s teeth. Because cats tend to swallow dry food whole instead of chewing, however, they may not benefit from this abrasive action. Diets with large kibble pieces may be more effective at encouraging good chewing action.

How can I improve my cat’s dental hygiene?

Daily toothbrushing is the best way to improve and protect your cat’s oral health. For cats who are resistant to brushing, oral hygiene rinses or water additives can be a convenient alternative, as can certain cat treats approved by the VOHC. Even with proper daily care, many cats require professional dental cleanings once in a while.

Note: The values in our nutrient charts are automatically calculated based on the guaranteed analysis and may not represent typical nutrient values. This may lead to discrepancies between the charts and the values mentioned in the body of the review.
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kate

About Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is a writer with over twelve years of experience in the pet industry. She is an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach and has completed coursework in therapeutic nutrition, raw feeding, and the formulation of homemade diets for pets at an accredited university. Kate enjoys cooking, reading, and doing DIY projects around the house. She has three cats, Bagel, Munchkin, and Biscuit.