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Best Senior Cat Food: 8 Options to Meet Your Aging Feline’s Nutritional Needs

Best food for senior cats grey shorthair eating

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Good nutrition is important for pets of all ages, but it’s absolutely essential for the ones that make it to their golden years. If you’re a cat parent whose favorite feline is approaching ripe old age, it might be time to consider switching to a food specifically formulated for senior cats.

Dr. Adam Miller, a board-certified internal medicine specialist at NorthStar VETS in Robbinsville Township, N.J., says that for nutritional purposes, a cat is recognized as “senior” at just 7 to 8 years old, and is considered “geriatric” between the ages of 10 and 12. “However, it is important to keep in mind that cats can live for a very long time and it is not uncommon for my feline patients to be 18-22 years of age,” he adds.

So, is your cat celebrating his 7th birthday this year? It may be time to make the switch to senior food. Here’s all that you need to know.

What Should Senior Cats Eat?

Putting down a bowl of cat food for senior cat

Senior cats’ nutritional needs are closely tied to their overall health. “Senior cats become less active and tend to have reduced lean body mass, which ultimately results in a lower basal metabolic rate,” Miller explains. “Additionally, senior cats are more prone to the development of diseases that alter nutritional requirements.” This means that a cat with chronic kidney disease will have different nutritional needs than a cat with gastrointestinal issues.

While there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for senior cat nutrition, Miller notes that the most important food consideration for a senior cat is managing a consistent weight, which can impact longevity, and keeping your cat hydrated. “Aging can impair thirst drive. I typically recommend either transitioning to a moist diet or adding low salt broth, meat juices (i.e. tuna), or ‘pet drinks,’” he says.

Senior Cat Food vs. Regular Cat Food: What’s the Difference?

Cat head tilted on the couch

A recent study showed that senior cat foods generally differ from regular cat food in one major way: food marketed as “senior” cat food has significantly more fiber than “regular” cat food. Further, the study found no major difference in the crude protein, fat, and mineral concentrations between foods (1).

That doesn’t mean that all senior cat foods are the same – the amount of protein, fat, and fiber can vary greatly from brand to brand. Miller recommends that senior cats get a moderate protein diet, that is, food that is 30 to 45 percent crude protein. He also says that senior cats should get more calorically dense food. He again notes that a food that works for one cat may not work for another.“Every cat is an individual and there is no one diet that fits all cats. But, regardless of the formulation of the diet, I typically recommend higher protein, lower carbohydrate foods, and these can be in both wet and dry formulations.”

Senior Cat Food: What to Look For

Senior cat eating out of his cat food bowl

Most commercially available cat foods will meet your pet’s nutritional needs. Miller explains, “Commercial cat foods meet certain base-level criteria for nutrition. I recommend foods manufactured by companies with long-established histories of making quality food, that consult with veterinary nutritionists, and have stringent quality control measures.”

While counting calories isn’t the most fun activity, Miller adds that cats should be consuming about 200 calories per day. “I recommend quantifying how many calories your cat is eating on a per-day basis so you can quickly recognize a decrease in appetite,” he says.

Further, if your senior cat is experiencing age-related health issues, you should talk to your veterinarian about which diet would be most beneficial.  

Best Senior Cat Food: 8 Great Options to Consider

Cat eating from its food bowl on the floor

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Keeping in mind senior cats’ nutritional needs, here are some of the best senior cat foods, treats and toppers on the market.

OUR LIST

Best Wet Food for Senior Cats 

Our pick: Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus

Pro Plan purina prime plus senior cat food

Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus Adult 7+ is our favorite wet food for senior cats. There are a few reasons this is the case. First is the food’s proprietary nutrient blend, which is specifically formulated to maintain and improve the health of cats 7 years of age or older. In particular, this food promotes lean muscle mass, which helps your senior cat maintain a healthy weight, which is critical to his overall well-being. It also supports a healthy immune system and contains microflora that contribute to a balanced digestive system. This Seafood Favorites Variety Pack comes in three different flavors—Ocean Whitefish & Salmon, Salmon & Tuna, and Cod & Shrimp–so Fluffy won’t get bored with his meals.

Highlights

  • Grain-free and meat is the first ingredient
  • Easy to find and inexpensive 
  • Contains nutrients that support a balanced digestive system
  • Contains vitamin A and taurine
  • Formulated for cats age 7 and up
  • Also available in Poultry & Beef Favorites Variety Pack

Things to Consider

  • Only available as a pate, which some cats might not prefer
  • Like all wet cat food, this needs to be refrigerated after opening
  • Only available in 3-oz cans

Best Dry Cat Food for Senior Cats

Our pick: Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging

Blue buffalo healthy aging senior cat food

If your cat is partial to dry food, Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging is the way to go. Meat is the first ingredient and the high-quality protein helps cats maintain strong muscles. The food also contains whole grains, veggies, and fruit, ensuring your senior cat gets all the nutrients he needs to maintain his health. Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging is also formulated with taurine to support heart and eye health in aging cats. Further, the formula contains Blue’s “LifeSource Bits,” a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists for your cat’s immune system health.

Highlights

  • First ingredient is chicken
  • Contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for immune system support
  • Contains taurine, which helps support heart and eye health
  • Proteins and carbohydrates help maintain your cat’s energy levels

Things to Consider

  • Contains grains
  • Dry food alone may not be enough for senior cats—make sure there is always fresh water available or pour water or a low-sodium broth into the kibble
  • Kibble may be difficult for cats with dental problems to eat

Best Fresh Cat Food for Senior Cats

Our pick: Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food

Smalls Human-Grade Fresh Cat Food

Containing only USDA-certified, humanely harvested, sustainably sourced ingredients, Smalls is a subscription meal service for cats that offers high-in-protein, human-grade wet food with no fillers. Available in three “proteins”—chicken, beef, and turkey—and two textures, smooth and ground, this food is ideal for cats who can be a bit picky about what they eat. Even though this food isn’t specifically formulated for senior cats, we like it for older kitties for a few reasons. First, the food has super-high quality ingredients with a plethora of tastes and textures for even the pickiest cat. Second, the food is high-protein, which is a desirable trait for senior cat food. And third, we especially enjoy that Smalls is available via a delivery service, so you will never run out and have to rush to the store for your kitty’s supper. 

Highlights

  • Shows up at your doorstep—no trip to the store required
  • High-protein food without any fillers
  • USDA-certified and sustainably sourced ingredients
  • Made in the USA

Things to Consider

  • Food arrives frozen and should only be thawed 24 hours before you are ready to use it
  • Open wet food must be kept in the fridge and only keeps for 5-7 days
  • This food is only available through a subscription service

Best Cat Food for Senior Cats with Kidney Disease

Our pick: Darwin Intelligent Design Kidney Support

Darwin's Intelligent Design cat food

As cats age, they sometimes develop chronic health problems. One of the most common issues in older cats is kidney disease (2), and there are foods specially formulated to help maintain kidney function. Our favorite of those is Darwin Intelligent Design Kidney Support. This recipe was formulated by experts in pet nutrition to provide a minimally processed cat food that maintains vital nutrients and is only available via prescription. Darwin only makes raw cat food, which means it isn’t cooked. It arrives at your house frozen, and you just thaw and serve!

Highlights

  • Raw food created to be easy-to-digest
  • Delivered to your door via subscription service
  • Made from antibiotic-free and pesticide-free meats
  • No grains, fillers, or chemical preservatives

Things to Consider

  • Comes in 2-lb packages
  • Arrives frozen
  • Only available via subscription
  • Requires a prescription

Best Wet Cat Food for Geriatric Cats

Our pick: Royal Canin Aging 12+

Royal Canin Aging 12+ Loaf In Sauce Canned Cat Food

Cats that are really getting along in years have different nutritional requirements than those spritely 7-year-old senior cats. We like Royal Canin Aging 12+ for those “geriatric” kitties. Royal Canin canned formulas are designed around a cat’s nutritional needs and offer a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This food brand was also developed with long-term palatability and dietary satisfaction in mind. This means that it’s specifically formulated to entice your cat to eat, even when his interest in food might be naturally waning.

Highlights

  • High levels of essential fatty acids, EPA, and DHA
  • Reduced phosphorus levels support kidney health
  • Soft wet food is easy on older cats’ teeth and gums

Things to Consider

  • Contains grains
  • Comes in a 1-oz. can
  • Like all wet food, open cans must be stored in the fridge

Best Cat Food for Senior Cats with Digestive Issues

Our pick: Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Perfect Digestion

Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Perfect Digestion Chicken Dry Cat Food

If your cat isn’t pooping consistently or his stools are loose and runny, this might be the cat food that makes the biggest difference. This kibble from Hill’s Science Diet is meant for adult cats aged 7 and up, blending high-quality chicken with probiotics, whole grain oats, and pumpkin into a small-bite kibble that promotes proper digestion. It does so by creating a healthy microbiome in your cat’s digestive system, promoting overall digestive well-being. 

It also contains antioxidants and vitamins C and E.

Highlights

  • Supports regular and healthy stools
  • Cultivates a healthy gut microbiome
  • Combines high-quality chicken with probiotics, antioxidants, and pumpkin

Things to Consider

  • Contains grains
  • Dry food alone may not be enough for senior cats—make sure there is always fresh water available or pour water or a low-sodium broth into the kibble
  • Kibble may be difficult for cats with dental problems to eat
  • Only for pets with digestive issues, not for every cat

Best Bone Broth for Senior Cats

Our pick: Open Farm Harvest Chicken Bone Broth

Harvest Chicken Bone Broth Bundle For Cats

Since senior cats can have a low thirst drive, consider pouring a savory bone broth onto your pet’s favorite wet or dry food to help keep him or her hydrated. Open Farm’s Harvest Chicken Bone Broth is made with gently simmered chicken bones, carrots, pumpkin, parsley, turmeric, and cinnamon. The result is a delicious, collagen-rich topper that can help support digestive, skin and coat, and immune health. And you can rest easy knowing that this topper is free of antibiotics, growth hormones, salt, garlic or onion.

Highlights

  • Made with humanely farmed chicken raised without antibiotics
  • Rich source of collagen to promote healthy joints and glycine for healthy liver
  • 100 percent human-grade ingredients
  • High protein, low fat
  • Suitable for both cats and dogs

Things to Consider

  • To be served as a topper
  • Feed 2 tablespoons of broth daily for every 10 pounds body weight, or as desired
  • Shake well before use
  • Serve it cool or warm but not hot
  • Refrigerate for up to 7 days after opening

Best Cat Treat for Senior Cats

Our pick: Hartz Delectables Bisque Lickable Wet Cat Treats 

Hartz Delectables Bisque Senior 10+ Tuna & Chicken Lickable Cat Treat

If you want your senior cat to get an extra treat, Hartz Delectables Bisque Lickable Wet Cat Treats are a good option. The treat comes in a texture that entices your senior cat to eat every bite and is soft and moist so it won’t disturb any dental issues your cat may have. This treat comes in a senior formula that adds vitamin E and various B vitamins that support your cat’s health. 

Highlights

  • Highly enticing texture and flavor for picky eaters
  • Contains vitamin E and various B vitamins that support your cat’s health
  • Available in a variety of flavors

Things to Consider

  • This is a treat, not a meal replacement

Senior Cat Food: Tips and Advice

Cat looking out window and feeling anxious

As you consider which food would work best for your senior cat, perhaps the most important factor is whether the food helps your cat maintain a consistent, healthy weight. “It is vital that senior cats stay at a healthy weight,” Miller says. “At checkups, your family veterinarian will check your cat’s weight, muscle tone, and body condition to make sure they’re not too lean or too overweight. To maintain good health, senior cats should eat enough appropriate food to maintain their weight. If you notice a change in your senior cat’s weight—either an increase or decrease—or if they stop eating and using the litter box, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.”