Looking for the best cat food for older cats is easier said than done. Conventional wisdom insists on putting older cats on a diet that is low on protein and fat. However, there isn’t any research to prove that our senior cats’ nutritional needs differ from those of younger adult cats.
AFFCO’s nutrient profiles alone fail to make a clear distinction between “adult” and “senior,” notes Dr. Joseph Barges. There is currently no designation for a senior cat’s diet. So, how do you find the best cat food for older cats?
The best cat food for older cats does not come in a “one-size-fits-all” bag. Of course, you need to talk to your veterinarian for guidance and determine possible health concerns your cat may have.
Then with your choices narrowed down, you can choose vet-recommended options from the list below:
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Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe – Editor’s Pick
The Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe is the best cat food for older cats aged 11 years and over. With its new and improved formula, it caters to the needs of senior kitties a lot better.
So, what are these sweet changes? Chicken meat is still the number one ingredient, followed by a healthy blend of complex carbohydrates. These carbs will give your elderly kitty a quick boost of energy.
Adding to that is an antioxidant blend derived from apples, cranberries, and carrots. That aside, natural fiber sources are added into the mix to aid digestion, reduce hairball formulation, and help minimize litterbox smells.
To make it even healthier, Hill’s Science beefed up its formula with a range of essential vitamins and minerals to further enhance the overall health and vitality of your pet.
All of Hill’s Science Diet formulas are designed without artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The company manufactures its foods only in the USA facilities. Their success in delivering delicious and healthy recipes are reflected by the immeasurable number of satisfied pet parents.
However, its recipe does include whole grain wheat and corn gluten meal. While these two ingredients aren’t necessarily harmful, in the end, the decision is yours to make.
|Chicken is the no.1 ingredient||Includes grains and gluten meal|
|Rich in protein||Expensive|
|Supplies adequate fiber, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids,|
|Delicious and digestible formula suitable for indoor cats aged 11+|
Royal Canin Appetite Control For Spayed/Neutered Cats – Best For Overweight Cats
Spaying and neutering cause a decrease in metabolic rate, which puts our pets to an increased risk of unhealthy weight gain. As the activity levels wane, the risk increases even more for a spayed or neutered senior cat. If you have a 12-year-old cat that eats its food like a vacuum cleaner, you might want to curb its appetite with this formula by Royal Canin.
If you look at the fine print, you will notice that it doesn’t have meat in its first five ingredients. While some might quickly assume it’s a letdown, Royal Canin’s veterinary nutritionists aim to maximize the fiber content of the food. After all, bulking up on fiber is the fastest way to make your cat feel full so it could lose weight.
What’s more, it contains L-carnitine to help burn fat fast and enhance muscle recovery. The recipe also includes antioxidant-rich green tea, marigold, and rosemary.
Nevertheless, this senior cat food still offers adequate protein and amino acids from chicken. After all, cats still require high-quality protein even in their golden years. The best part about this formula is that it also caters to pets with poor renal function since the phosphorus levels are at a minimum.
|Fiber-boosted formula||Contains grain and gluten|
|Caters specifically to spayed/neutered cats aged 12+||Very expensive|
|Contains L-carnitine and antioxidants||Doesn’t have much meat|
|Phosphorus levels are kept to a minimum|
Blue Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet with Chicken & LifeSource Bits
This grain-free recipe by Blue Wilderness provides superior nutrition for cats aged seven onwards. Packed with deboned chicken, chicken meal, and fish meal, it supplies high-quality proteins for your little carnivore.
Blue also makes sure that its formula strikes the right balance of carbohydrates and fiber, as they add peas, potatoes, and carrots into the mix. Since immunity starts from the stomach, you want to make sure your elderly cat can fully absorb the nutrients it gets from the food it eats.
As expected of Blue, this kibble comes with LifeSource Bits, which a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals formulated by holistic vets and animal nutritionists. This exclusive blend boosts the immune system in your elderly cat.
Furthermore, this product is free of grains, by-product meals, and artificial ingredients that could trigger allergies or upset a sensitive stomach.
|Made deboned chicken as its no.1 protein source||Expensive|
|Offers high fiber content and balanced levels of carbohydrates|
|Comes with LifeSource Bits for a stronger immune system|
|Free of grains, animal by-products, and artificial ingredients|
Wild Frontier Ancestral Diet with Chicken
Similar to Blue Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet, its recipe is inspired by the ancestral feline diet. The Wild Frontier Ancestral Diet offers 40% more protein compared to the majority of cat foods in the market. It features high-quality chicken as its number one ingredient, along with pea and potato proteins and salmon meal.
This product does not contain animal by-products of any kind. Nor does it have corn, wheat, and soy that could trigger allergies in some pets. Above all, this product does not contain a smorgasbord of artificial ingredients.
What you will find, on the other hand, is a low-carbohydrate and high-fiber blend of beet pulp, lentils, tapioca, split peas, and flaxseed. The recipe also includes rosemary, yucca, and zinc to help boost your kitty’s immune system, along with calcium and vitamin D to strengthen bones.
|Offers 40% more protein from whole chicken, salmon meal, pea and potato proteins||The size of the kibble can be way too large for a senior cat with dental or gum problems|
|Free of grains, soy, and artificial ingredients|
|Features a low-carb and high-fiber formula|
|Fortified with antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals|
Hill’s Science Diet Tender Chicken & Tender Tuna – Best Canned Food
Are you on the hunt for an irresistible wet option for your elderly feline? Formulated especially for cats seven years old an up, this high-moisture cat food by Hill’s provides precise nutrition to boost your cat’s vitality, as well as support healthy skin and coat.
As you can see from the picture, you will get two flavors in one pack: a dozen of Tender Chicken Dinner and another dozen of Tender Tuna Dinner. Alternating flavors is a fantastic way to encourage a picky eater to more.
Besides, each recipe features great-tasting and digestible ingredients. The chunky slices are drenched with delicious gravy for added flavor and moisture. I promise you will get enthusiastic two paws up from your pet!
As expected of Hill’s Science Diet, its formula clinically-proven antioxidants for strong immunity. Likewise, it is fortified with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. If you have a picky eater with a sensitive tummy, this one is for you.
|Attractive flavor and texture due to high-quality proteins||Costs more than other brands|
|Offers high-hydration and excellent nutrition for cats aged 7+|
|Packed with antioxidants|
|Fortified with essential micronutrients|
How To Pick The Best Cat Food For Older Cats
Old age brings many changes to our feline companions. As such, they need orthopedic beds, more vet check-ups, and of course, a change in their diets to ensure they remain in the peak of health. But what exactly is the best cat food for older cats?
By following the steps provided below, you’ll be able to find the right food for your cat.
Keep Track Of Your Cat’s Age
First, let’s start to appreciate the age of our cats in human terms. Feline ages have been redefined in recent years. A cat is considered to be 64 years old when it reaches its 12th birthday. In most cases, cats around this age are classed as seniors.
Although our feline companions aren’t as big as our dogs, they, too, experience the same aging phenomena. Older cats are more vulnerable to a range of degenerative conditions, including arthritis and degenerative joint disease.
Every senior cat has its set of problems. The best cat food for older cats should be able to slow or prevent chronic illness, as well as decrease the symptoms of any pre-existing medical condition.
Up The Protein, Older Cats Need More
Reducing your kitty’s proteins is bad, outdated advice. For many years, veterinarians believed that older cats don’t need as many proteins as younger kitties.
This belief had only changed when Dr. Delmar Finco, a retired veterinary nutritionist, demonstrated how our pets need more protein as they age. Dr. Finco explained that even a protein-restricted diet does not improve the health of dogs and cats with renal failure.
In fact, Dr. Finco’s research proved that older cats on low-protein diets are susceptible to hypoproteinemia and can become sick as a dog. Note that muscle wasting can also be due to CKD, diabetes mellitus, or hyperthyroidism.
Thanks to Dr. Fico’s groundbreaking research, vets now recommend we feed our older cats with a diet rich in excellent-quality protein. The protein source should also be digestible and assimilable for our pets that are struggling with poor liver and kidney health.
According to the International Renal Interest Society, even cats diagnosed with later stages of kidney failure should still be offered high-quality animal protein in small amounts.
Look For Fiber And Antioxidants
The best cat food for older cats supplies fiber and antioxidants. Both fiber and antioxidants are derived from fruits and vegetables.
Fiber is vital to maintaining proper digestion and peristaltic movement. The lack of this nutrient can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, including stomach sensitivity. Antioxidants, on the other hand, boost the immune system and help delay the effects of aging.
Despite being a true carnivore, our feline companions at home do not hunt and relish their entire prey, which includes the digested plant materials inside the gut. The best we can do is to make sure they get enough micronutrients from their kibble or canned food.
Be Wary Of Man-Made Ingredients
The best cat food for older cats does use natural flavorings and preservatives, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, rosemary, sage, and clove. Shy away from artificial flavors and unknown derivatives. These human-made ingredients lack nutritional value and can be harmful to pets in the long-term.
The Taste, Texture, And Aroma Matters
As a cat owner, you are aware by now how whimsical cats can be when it comes to their food. Some senior kitties prefer eating kibble out of habit, while others find canned food ambrosial. Although each cat is different, it seems like the majority would rather eat the latter.
Unfortunately, some cats tend to lose their appetite as they reach their golden years due to a range of factors, including feline depression. That is why it is crucial to provide your cat with highly palatable foods to encourage them to finish their meal.
Wet foods tend to have a more appealing taste to cats. The reason for this harks back to their ancestors. In the wild, their ancestors feed on their caught prey, which tends to be fresh and moist. The texture of the food also makes a huge difference. Many senior cats with missing teeth or sore gums may prefer wet food than crunchy kibble.
Since wet or moistened food has higher water content, Dr. Andrea Fascetti suggests that it could benefit senior cats with urinary tract issues. By increasing water intake and urination, it may also help with the feline urologic syndrome, added the vet.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
Last but certainly not least, make sure to feed your senior cat with high-quality foods only. Although they can be a little more expensive than most commercial-grade kibble or canned food, you can be sure that your cat’s diet isn’t metabolically stressful.
Don’t panic if you see carbohydrate-rich foods, such as grains and starches, in the small print. Dry kibble, in particular, need at least 30% of these ingredients to bind food together. Likewise, older cats need to source more energy and the best way to achieve this by incorporating complex carbohydrates into their diet.
The bad news is when manufacturers use plant sources as an inexpensive way to increase the protein content of their food, instead of real meat. Although all protein has a biologic value, plant protein is biologically inappropriate for cats.
The best cat food for older cats is not highly processed.
The best cat food for older cats doesn’t differ much from adult cat food formulations. Your elderly kitty still needs a high-protein diet to maintain muscle mass, antioxidants to strengthen immunity against common illnesses, fiber for digestion, and omega fatty acids for a lustrous coat.
The only difference is that senior cat foods are exceptionally low in calories to correspond to the less active lifestyle of our indoor kitties. Some products may also have a specific formula to help ease certain symptoms.
The Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Adult Chicken Recipe, in particular, is a fabulous option for senior cats because it provides a long list of health benefits. Made with quality ingredients, it supplies a good percentage of protein and fiber.
But if your cat suffers from obesity or chronic kidney disease, your pet would benefit from eating a low-calorie and low-phosphorus diet, such as the Royal Canin Appetite Control.