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The 5 Best Cat Food for Senior Cats

September 1, 2019

The 5 Best Cat Food for Senior Cats

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The best cat food for senior cats is palatable, soft enough to eat with a few missing teeth, supports joint health, and has all the digestible protein your cat needs to maintain lean muscle mass. Not many foods satisfy all of those requirements at once, but after hours of research, we’ve gathered the scarce few that do.

Given that criteria, we recommend Weruva Truluxe Steak Frites as the best cat food for senior cats. Its highly-digestible protein content, minimal starch, and low phosphorus content make it an outstanding option for seniors.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • A low-phosphorus food
  • Rich in highly-digestible protein from beef
  • Low carbohydrate content
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  • Features highly-digestible animal protein sources as the primary ingredients
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Contains tuna oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
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  • Primarily made from a novel protein
  • Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
  • Features salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
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  • Contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
  • Contains a species-appropriate mix of muscle meat, organs, and blood
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  • Green-lipped mussels may help to support joint health
  • Relatively low in phosphorus, especially compared to other freeze-dried foods
  • Primarily made from readily-digested animal ingredients
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How Do You Choose The Best Cat Food For Senior Cats?

Fundamentally, senior cats need the same carnivore-oriented nutrition that other cats require. But there are a few things that set apart the best foods for seniors.

The Best Cat Food For Senior Cats Provides Plenty Of Easily-digestible Protein.

Protein is vital for cats of all ages and its importance for seniors should not be underestimated. Without enough protein, senior cats will lose muscle mass and, essentially, waste away. In his article Don’t Let Your Senior Cat Become a Skinny Old Kitty, veterinarian Mark E. Peterson shares the results of a study on the protein requirements of adult cats.

In the study, “cats were fed three isocaloric diets with protein levels of 22%, 28% or 36% on a dry matter, or DM basis. In this study, the protein sources for these diets included poultry, soy, fish and crystalline amino acids to meet amino acid requirements.

Only the cats on 36% DM protein were able to maintain their lean body mass, whereas the cats on the 28% and 22% protein diets lost lean body mass.”

And considering that your cat’s need for protein increases, not decreases, as he moves north of ten to twelve years of age, protein is a critical part of making sure that your cat stays strong and fit throughout his life.

The Best Cat Food For Senior Cats Helps To Keep The Kidneys In Top Condition.

An estimated one in three cats develops kidney disease in their lifetime. According to one study, that rate goes up to 80% of cats age 15 to 20 years of age. We don’t know why cats are so prone to kidney disease, but just as humans think about heart health, we must mind our senior kitties’ kidney health.

Whether your senior has been diagnosed with kidney disease or not, a relatively low-phosphorus diet is a good idea.

Phosphorus, along with calcium and other minerals, are essential for maintaining healthy bones, but when the kidneys weaken, they can overload the body and make your cat feel sick. Though it’s not a good idea to tighten your cat’s phosphorus intake to prescription diet levels if his kidneys are working well, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on a nutritious lower-phosphorus diet.

Though protein restriction may be necessary for cats who already have kidney disease, you don’t want to deprive your cat for the sake of kidney problems he might not have.

Unless your cat has kidney disease, there’s no reason to put your senior on a low-protein diet. Even those in the late stages of kidney disease may do better on a diet rich in highly-digestible protein rather than one with lower meat content. Instead, look for low-waste protein sources like poultry and rabbit.

The Best Cat Food For Senior Cats Is Highly Palatable With A Taste And Smell That Cats Find Hard To Resist.

As senior cats age, they often lose interest in food or become increasingly finicky. You can stimulate your cat’s appetite by choosing foods that taste and smell great. You can add warm water to your cat’s food or even heat it on the stove to bring it up to around 101 degrees—your cat’s body temperature and what most cats prefer to eat. A sprinkle of bonito flakes or a splash of tuna juice can also encourage your senior to eat.

The Best Cat Food For Senior Cats Is Soft And Easy To Eat.

If your cat has had a few teeth extracted or has been struggling with dental disease for a while, it might be hard for him to eat the foods he used to. Soft, moist foods are easier to eat and a good option for most senior cats.

Best Cat Food For Senior Cats: Our Top 5 Picks

Overall Best: Weruva TruLuxe Grain-Free Steak Frites with Beef & Pumpkin in Gravy

Product Info:

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 1.3% Min
  • Fiber: 0.5% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: Thailand

Pros:

  • A low-phosphorus food
  • Rich in highly-digestible protein from beef
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

Cons:

  • An exceptionally expensive food
  • Contains sunflower seed oil instead of animal-sourced fat

This food from Weruva does something that very few cat foods achieve—it combines low phosphorus content with plenty of protein. With 1.0 mg phosphorus per 1000 calories, this food has some of the lowest phosphorus content you can get without buying a prescription food for kidney disease.

Though its phosphorus content may be low enough to help cats with kidney disease feel better, this food is not a prescription diet and is safe for healthy cats. It has all of the other qualities we look for in a food for senior cats. It’s primarily made from beef and, though it does contain small amounts of pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, and potato starch, manages to remain a low-carbohydrate food.

Price is this food’s biggest shortcoming. Like all foods in Weruva’s Truluxe line, it’s expensive. If you’re on a typical budget, this one might be a couple of dollars a day out of your price range. The food is low in fat, including omega-3 fatty acids, so if your cat has joint issues or another inflammatory disease, you might want to supplement with salmon oil or another fish oil.

Best Affordable: WholeHearted Chicken Recipe Flaked in Gravy

Product Info:

  • Protein: 10% Min
  • Fat: 3.0% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Features highly-digestible animal protein sources as the primary ingredients
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • Contains tuna oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Doesn’t contain any inflammatory ingredients
  • A very budget-friendly food

Cons:

  • Reviewers are divided on the food’s palatability
  • some cats just don’t like this food

Feeding a senior cat well doesn’t have to be expensive. For the price of Fancy Feast, this food delivers decent nutrition and good ingredient quality.

It doesn’t contain any of the cheap ingredients that tend to increase phosphorus content, like meat meals and animal by-product meals. Instead, it’s made of chicken in a broth thickened with tapioca starch and xanthan gum.

Thanks to the use of tuna oil, the food has omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. This ingredient may also help cats with arthritis and joint problems. Because it doesn’t have any common inflammatories like carrageenan, artificial colors, and preservatives, it shouldn’t make your senior cat feel any creakier than he has to.

Best for Sensitive Stomach: Hound & Gatos Rabbit Formula Canned Cat Food Review

Product Info:

  • Protein: 11% Min
  • Fat: 7.0% Min
  • Fiber: 1.0% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: United States

Pros:

  • Primarily made from a novel protein
  • Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
  • Features salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • The soft texture is easy for senior cats to eat

Cons:

  • A very expensive food
  • Some cats don’t like the rabbit flavor

If your senior has food sensitivities or allergies, you might struggle to find food that suits his needs. This streamlined recipe features rabbit, a novel protein for many cats and not a common allergen. In addition to a sensitivity-friendly protein source, the food’s super-slender ingredient list minimizes other irritants and, according to customer reviews, is particularly easy to digest.

The food contains salmon oil as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to control inflammation associated with arthritis and other conditions.

But this food isn’t perfect. For one, it’s not cheap. A case of 24 cans costs nearly $80. Secondly, some cats don’t like its taste or texture. Senior cats may turn their noses up at the unfamiliar rabbit flavor or the texture of the food.

Best for Joint Health: Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Protein: 9.0% Min
  • Fat: 5.0% Min
  • Fiber: 0.2% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Wet/Canned
  • Made In: New Zealand

Pros:

  • Contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s
  • Rich in highly-digestible animal protein
  • Contains a species-appropriate mix of muscle meat, organs, and blood
  • Low in carbohydrates

Cons:

  • Expensive

Joint problems are extremely common among senior cats. While no supplement has been proven to reverse arthritis, omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation. Along with a healthy lifestyle and weight management, these fatty acids can help to make your senior feel more comfortable.

This canned food from Feline Natural has several features that set it apart for seniors with joint issues. It contains a rich variety of muscle meat and organs, including chicken, chicken heart, venison kidney, liver, and blood. New Zealand green mussels are added as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and may support joint health.

This food isn’t cheap, but its ingredient is virtually unparalleled when it comes to being appropriate for cats with joint problems.

Best Freeze-Dried: Feline Natural Chicken & Lamb Feast Freeze-Dried Cat Food

Product Info:

  • Protein: 9.0% Min
  • Fat: 5.0% Min
  • Fiber: 0.2% Max
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Type: Freeze-Dried
  • Made In: New Zealand

Pros:

  • Green-lipped mussels may help to support joint health
  • Relatively low in phosphorus, especially compared to other freeze-dried foods
  • Primarily made from readily-digested animal ingredients

Cons:

  • One of the most expensive cat foods on the market

This food is made by the same company as our recommendation for cats with joint problems and has a similar ingredient list. The only differences are that this recipe features lamb instead of venison and is freeze-dried rather than canned. Freeze-drying locks in nutrients that might be lost during other forms of processing. Freeze-dried foods are a safe-to-handle, shelf-stable alternative to raw foods.

Freeze-dried foods are notorious for high phosphorus content, but this recipe is a happy exception. It is relatively low in phosphorus and appropriate for senior cats.

Additionally, the food contains green-lipped mussel, a source of multiple types of omega-3 fatty acids. This inclusion helps to ensure long-term skin and coat health while reducing inflammation.

Freeze-dried food comes out of the bag dry, but you can rehydrate it before serving. By adding warm water to the food, you can make it ultra-palatable, fragrant, and easy to eat.

Mallory Crusta

Mallory Crusta is a blogger and adventurecat enthusiast who brings you the facts about cat products, wellness, and care. She's the co-founder of Wildernesscat, a resource for savvy cat guardians who want to give their felines richer, healthier lives. Visit Wildernesscat for product reviews, radically natural nutrition tips, and lifestyle inspiration
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