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The Best Cat Food for Older Cats in 2021

Last Updated September 14, 2021

As cats age their needs change, they may require more rest – if that’s possible for a cat, fluffier beds, and more regular veterinary care to ensure they remain in the peak of health. One other aspect that needs to be addressed as your furry friend ages is their diet. The right food can make a huge difference to the longevity and vitality of your beloved pet. With that in mind here are our best food picks based on the experiences of countless cat lovers and our own resident pet expert.

The 10 Best Senior Cat Food to Buy

Editor's PickProduct NamePriceRating
Best Dry FoodWellness Complete Health Chicken & Deboned Chicken Senior Dry Cat FoodCheck Price on PetSmart4.4
Best for Indoor SeniorHill's Science Diet Adult 11+ Indoor Dry Cat Food for Older CatsCheck Price on Amazon4.6
Best with Wholesome GrainsBlue Buffalo Healthy Dry Cat Food for Older CatsCheck Price on PetSmart4.8
Best TreatsHartz Delectables Stew Lickable Wet Cat TreatsCheck Price on Chewy4.8
Best for Kidney DiseaseHill's Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Canned Cat FoodCheck Price on Amazon4.4
Premium PickFeline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Grain-FreeCheck Price on Chewy4.1
Best for Sensitive StomachI and Love and You Lovingly Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Check Price on Chewy4.0
Budget-FriendlyFancy Feast Beef Feast Classic PateCheck Price on Amazon4.7
Best for Picky EatersPurina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ ClassicCheck Price on Chewy4.7
Also GreatIams Proactive Health Healthy Senior Dry Cat FoodCheck Price on Amazon4.8
*Ratings are from Amazon, Chewy, and PetSmart at the time of publication and can change
 

1

Wellness Complete Health Chicken & Deboned Chicken Grain-Free Senior Dry Cat Food
Wellness Complete Health Senior Dry Food Back Side

Wellness Complete is the perfect older cat food for owners who prefer an all-natural approach to feeding. It offers a complete and well-balanced diet, with levels of fiber and fat that are specifically aimed at helping to maintain weight and provide joint support for senior cats.

Wellness Complete is made from deboned chicken and contains no animal by-products at all. It is also free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, and contains no soy, wheat or corn. It is not completely grain free however, as it does contain barley and rice, so if these are ingredients that may cause issues for your friendly feline, another food may be more suitable.

Read in-depth Wellness Cat Food Reviews.

Complete and balanced nutrition for older cats

All-natural ingredients

No animal by-products

No artificial color, preservatives or flavors

Specification:
  • Brand: Wellness Natural Pet Food
  • Model: 8976
  • Weight: 6 pounds

2

Hill’s Science Diet dry food is specifically designed for indoor cats aged 11 and over. The chicken recipe includes key nutrients at optimal levels for supporting joint health, as well as kidney, heart and eye functions. The added natural fiber aids digestion, reduces hairball formation and makes litterbox cleaning that little bit easier.

Its clinically proven antioxidant blend, including amino acid, Vitamins C and E, is designed to help support your cat’s immune system and improve overall health and vitality in older cats. Created without any artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, this product does include whole grain wheat and corn gluten meal. If you have concerns over feeding these ingredients to your kitty, then Hill’s Science Diet may not be for you. But, otherwise your furry feline will love the natural chicken recipe.

Check out our detailed review of Hill’s Cat Food.

Specifically created for older indoor cats

Great chicken flavor

No artificial color, flavors or preservatives

Includes amino acids, added natural fiber, Vitamins C and E, and Protein

Specification:
  • Brand: Hill’s Science Diet
  • Model: 2530
  • Weight: 7 pounds

3

BLUE dry cat food for mature cats is created from real chicken and promises to contain no poultry by-products. Its combination of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals is designed to keep your feline fit and healthy in their later years. BLUE process these elements of the food at lower temperatures to preserve potency and prevent degradation. The tasty kibble also includes chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint health.

All ingredients in the kibble are natural, carefully balanced and include complex carbohydrates sourced from carrots, sweet potatoes, parsley and cranberries. The protein rich formula also includes whole grains from brown rice, barley and oats. The full flavor and aroma of the kibble can be released by adding a little warm water before serving. This makes it ideal for felines who may already be experiencing age related tooth issues.

Take a look at our review of Blue Buffalo Cat Food.

Protein rich formula derived from whole chicken

Include whole grains and vegetables

Contains no poultry by-products

Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health

Specification:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 79
  • Weight: 7 pounds

4

Hartz Delectables are made from blended tuna and chicken flakes to create a smooth sauce that your kitty will love. The wet texture provides them with a completely different eating experience while still containing the vitamins an older cat needs. The liquid treat includes vitamins E and B and can be squeezed straight into your furry friend’s bowl.

While Hartz Delectables contains no wheat or corn meal, it also does not contain any vegetables or whole grains. Owners who are concerned about this may want to alternate the Bisque with another food or use it as a treat to complement their felines normal feeding routine. The liquid nature of the sauce makes it ideal for older cats experiencing dental issues. But, for those who still have their teeth, offering kibble or other crunchy treats alongside the bisque will help maintain jaw , gum and tooth health.

Supports digestive system and kidney functions

Contained added Vitamins B and E

Made from blend meat and meat juices

Specification:
  • Brand: Hartz
  • Model: 3270011058
  • Weight: 1.92 ounces

5

Hill's Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Canned Cat Food

As your kit ages, their kidney function may not be as good as it used to be, or they may start to develop stones which need careful dietary management. And for their all-round kidney health, a low sodium diet is the best route to take. With this easily digestible wet cat food formula from Hill’s Prescription Diet, you get all the nutrients and vitamins your senior cat needs, without any ingredients that may irritate their kidneys or interfere with their essential function within the body. And not only does this chicken and vegetable stew recipe support your cat’s kidney health, but it can also contribute to their heart health as well as overall vitality and longevity.

Low sodium and with controlled phosphorus levels, the recipe also uses high quality protein in the form of real whole chicken, cooked down into digestible bite-sized chunks that are bursting with flavor. Added vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, taurine, and L-carnitine as well as B12 and vitamin C, all ensure that your senior cat is satisfied, healthy and nourished, come mealtime. 

Formulated to support kidney health

Low sodium and managed phosphorus

High quality whole chicken as core protein

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

Easily digestible bite-sized chunks

Specification:
  • Brand: Hill’s Prescription Diet
  • Model: 82584
  • Weight: 2.9 ounces (pack of 24)

6

Feline Natural Chicken & Venison Feast Grain-Free

High quality nutrition is essential as your cat ages so that their diet supports both their energy as well as health. And that can often mean choosing a diet that has less of the unnecessary ingredients and more of the really good stuff. While Feline Natural’s Chicken and Venison Feast has been formulated for all life stages, it can be particularly beneficial for senior cats. And the high-quality ingredients, and grain free recipe makes this a premium wet cat food to keep your senior cat happy and healthy. 

The chicken and venison are grass fed and sourced from New Zealand, with added green lipped mussels for a concentrated boost of omega 3 fatty acids as well as chondroitin and glucosamine for joint and bone health. And there are no potential allergens in this recipe which could irritate the older digestion; so that’s no grains, wheat, rice, soy, gluten, or artificial additives. 

The moisture rich formula of this wet senior cat food is also delectable to eat, especially if your senior cat has teeth or chewing problems, and it is gentle on the tum, while being packed full of flavor that will entice even the pickiest of eaters to their food bowl. 

High-quality free-range chicken and venison

Grain-free moisture rich formula 

Green lipped mussels for omega fatty acids

Taurine, vitamin E, D3 and folic acid

Free from any artificial ingredients

Specification:
  • Brand: Feline Natural
  • Model: 104977
  • Weight: 3 ounces (pack of 24)

7

I and Love and You Lovingly Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Cat Food

Cats can get fussier about their food as they age, or they can develop sensitivities to some of the ingredients in their regular meal. If this sounds like your senior cat, and you don’t want to sacrifice taste then check out the Lovingly Simple Limited Ingredient range. Their salmon and sweet potato dry senior cat food recipe is particularly tasty and, as some senior cats can struggle to tolerate animal meats, the main source of protein is real salmon. 

More easily digestible, the salmon fish oil is also an excellent source of omega fatty acids, which help to support their joint and coat health. and, as a lean, nutritious protein, it also boosts their muscle condition, energy, and all-round health. Added to this senior cat food formula are limited vegetables, including vitamin rich sweet potato and you also get added probiotics for a settled tum. 

Fortified with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, this delicious recipe is also grain free and has no fillers, by-products, corn, rice, soy, or artificial nasties. Just tasty protein in a 100% balanced and nutritious diet your senior cat will love. 

Easily digestible, omega-rich real salmon

No chicken or beef

Added probiotics for digestive health

Fortified with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals

Grain, soy, rice, gluten, filler, and by-product free

Specification:
  • Brand: I and Love and You
  • Model: 141543
  • Weight: 3.4 pounds

8

Fancy Feast Beef Feast Classic Pate

Feeding your senior cat shouldn’t be expensive and with Fancy Feast you get a budget friendly wet cat food that doesn’t scrimp on quality or taste.

Formulated for senior cats over the age of seven, the Beef Feast recipe is one of the best senior cat foods as it is particularly delicious and packed with protein to keep your senior happily on his toes. The quality protein helps to support strong, lean muscle mass and provides the energy your cat needs to go about an active day. And the moist pate formula is easy for an older cat to chew and digest. 

For their coat and skin health you get added vitamin E and there’s added taurine for their heart, healthy digestion, and eyes. Add in immune boosting antioxidants as well as essential vitamins and minerals, and you have an affordable quality senior cat food to sustain your pet in his golden years.

Formulate for cats aged seven and over

Tasty beef, with added fish and chicken liver

Support muscle strength and energy

Added taurine for heart and eye health

Boosted with vitamins and minerals

Specification:
  • Brand: Fancy Feast
  • Model: 217438
  • Weight: 3 ounces (pack of 24)

9

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Classic

Purina Pro Plan Focus is packed with mouth-watering salmon and tuna in a delicious wet entrée formula and so an excellent choice if your older cat seems off their food. The texture and consistency are rich and moist, making this food for older cats a real temptation to get them back to their bowl.

But it isn’t all about taste, as Purina have carefully balanced the recipe to ensure the quality ingredients provide all the goodness and nutrition the senior cat needs.

The quality fish provides an excellent protein source for energy and muscle strength while adding a natural hit of essential omega fatty acids to your cat’s diet. And each serving provides your pet with 25 vitamins and minerals to support their all-round health. These include the heart and eye supporting taurine, antioxidants for a strong immune system as well as vitamins B, C, D and E. And this senior cat food is grain free too, so kinder on the older tum.  

Omega-rich salmon and tuna

Supports muscles and energy

Added taurine for heart and eyes

Fortified with 25 vitamins and minerals

Gut-friendly grain-free recipe

Specification:
  • Brand: Purina
  • Model: 67921
  • Weight: 3 ounces (pack of 24)

10

IAMS Proactive Health is specially designed for felines aged 11 and over to promote healthy immune systems. Created with high quality protein from chicken, it maintains healthy muscles and provides the specific balance of amino acids that older kitties require. Your cat’s digestive health is supported through a tailored blend of fiber, including beet pulp and prebiotics.

IAMS also helps your cat to maintain a healthy weight by adding L-Carnitine to its kibble mix. However, feeding guidance should still be followed to ensure your furry friend is not over feed. Created with no artificial colors or flavors, this kibble uses corn meal, corn grits and whole grain sorghum instead of a wheat base, making it an ideal wheat free alternative to other dry cat foods. Iams ProActive Health Healthy Senior is one of 5 cat food recipes included in our Iams Cat Food Review.

 

Includes essential nutrients for strong bones and healthy joints

The crunchy kibble helps reduce plaque build up

Includes 7 essential nutrients for heart health

Added L-Carnitine for healthy weight maintenance

Specification:
  • Brand: Iams
  • Model: 10133666
  • Weight: 16 pounds

Best Cat Food for Older Cats Buying Guide

There are so many great products on the market that buying the right one for your feline companion can seem like an impossible task. Choosing between wet and dry foods, knowing which ingredients are the best, and which added vitamins to look for are just some of the decisions you need to make. However, that is where we are here to help with our guide to the best cat food for older cats.

You may also like our reviews of the Best Dry Cat Food and Best Wet Cat Food.

Special Dietary Requirements for Senior Cats

Senior cats have very specific dietary needs that differ from those of their younger and middle-aged counterparts. Older cats are more susceptible to a range of illnesses and degenerative conditions, as well as just the normal effects of getting old. As cats approach middle age their energy needs decrease, until they reach around 11 years old, then they begin to increase again. This is one of the reasons why good quality protein and complex carbohydrates are essential in older cat food. Other dietary considerations include:

  • Changes in digestion

Older cats have been shown to have difficulties digesting fat and protein as well as younger cats. This means they are not absorbing the amount of these that they need to maintain good health. Lack of protein can impair their immune system, so to counteract this, older cats need higher quantities of easily digestible fat and protein.

  • Lower Vitamin Levels

The level of various vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes may decrease as your cat ages. They tend to absorb less of the nutrients they need through the intestinal tract and are more prone to losing them through the kidneys and urinary tract. Oral diseases and age-related tooth loss can also cause older cats to eat less, meaning they may not receive their recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals through food that is not designed specifically for their age. Antioxidants such as vitamins A (beta-carotene), E, and C may play a role in protecting against some aspects of the normal aging process.

  • Age related illnesses

As with all animals, cats become more prone to various diseases as they age; good nutrition is vital to slowly the progression of such illness and lessening their effect on your beloved pet.

  1. Increased dietary fiber can support cats suffering from anal gland disease, constipation, colitis, mellitus or diabetes.
  2. Highly digestible sources of fat, carbohydrates and protein can also reduce suffering from colitis, as well as inflammatory bowel disease and kidney problems.
  3. Decreased sodium and higher levels of taurine (an amino acid) support cats with heart disease.
  4. Liquid or canned food is helpful for cats with dental problems.
  5. Higher omega-3 fatty acid content is recommended for cats with cancer.
  • Dehydration

Older cats have a tendency to drink less than they should. This can increase the risk of kidney problems and constipation. Flavoring water can help or adding small amounts of warm water to dry food. This can also help encourage reluctant eaters.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Quality Senior Cat Food

Of course, taste is one of your main considerations when choosing a cat food for your senior cat. However, as we discussed above, keeping your cat healthy requires specific nutrition as well as great tasting food. So, here are some factors you need to think about when buying food for your senior cat.

  • Understanding Ages

At what point does your cat become a senior or older cat? Generally, it is understood that at around the age of 11 cats stop being classed as adults and begin to be seniors. This is not a hard and fast rule, and there are some differences depending on breed, but it is a good guide when looking at different foods.

  • High Protein content

Cats are obligate carnivores and need a diet rich in protein to maintain healthy muscle tone, skin and hair. However, older cats need a higher protein content than younger cats, and it needs to be easily digestible as well as good quality.

  • Animal Protein

The source of the protein in your senior cat’s food is just as important as the amount. Animal protein should be your preferred source as it contains some amino acids that cannot be sourced from plants. Animal protein should be the first ingredient on the food’s ingredients list.

  • Complex Carbohydrates

Older cats need to source more energy from their food than younger cats. Complex carbs are the best way to achieve this without risking over feeding your feline.

  • Fiber

Fiber is essential to maintaining gut health, but the source and type of fiber makes a huge difference to the overall health and weight maintenance of your cat. Look for dietary fiber, rather than insoluble fiber. Dietary fiber contains carbohydrates and nutrients, as well as increasing bulk to support the transit of food through the gut.

Check out our review of the Best Cat Food for Weight Loss.

  • Colors, Flavors and Preservatives

Where possible it is always best to opt for foods that only use natural colors, flavors, and preservatives. Not only does this make the food taste, and smell, better, but it is better for your cat’s overall health and wellbeing. Artificial colors and flavors have no nutritional value, and many animal professionals believe that artificial preservatives can actually be harmful to pets over the long term. Opting for foods that clearly state on their ingredients that there are no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors is the best way to avoid artificial ingredients, especially if you are unsure of the compounds you are looking for.

  • Antioxidants

Derived from fruits and vegetables, antioxidants help to reduce the effects of aging in older cats and support general vitality.

  • Gluten / Wheat Free?

There are many cat owners and some professionals who are proponents of feeding cats a gluten free diet. In fact, there are those that would go as far as suggesting there should be no grains in a cat’s diet at all as their digestive systems are not designed to process such ingredients. However, whole grain is one of the main sources of complex carbohydrates, along with vegetables – so the argument can become quite complex. There are foods that avoid using gluten rich grains – opting for other cereal crops instead. There are also excellent foods that include wheat and provide the perfect balance of nutrients for older cats. Unless your cat has a specific allergy or stomach complaint, this is really an individual choice.

How Much To Feed Senior Cats

Just as the type of food your cat needs changes as they enter their senior years, so too does the amount of food they need. When considering how much to feed your senior cat, you need to take into account their activity levels, whether they are primarily an indoor cat, any existing health conditions, and their overall state of wellbeing.

Take a look at our guide on the Best Cat Food for Indoor Cats.

Outdoor cats are likely to be more active and therefore need to take in a greater number of calories. They should also be fed a food that is designed for more active and outdoor cats. If your cat is primarily an indoor cat, then they need less calories and food that is designed to meet their needs.

One of the biggest causes of obesity in older cats is feeding treats. All pet lovers want to treat their pets, but with more sedentary older cats it is important to keep treats to a minimum and only feed treats that are meant for cats. Feeding human food not only increases the risk of obesity but can cause other health problems.

The best way to ensure that your cat is getting the right amount of food is to follow the feeding guidelines on the specific food you choose for your pet. Adjust these amounts in small increments to meet your senior kitty’s individual needs and activity levels. And if you are still unsure speak to your veterinarian.

If fed the right high-quality food in the right amounts, your senior cat can go on to have many more years with you. Not only that, but they will maintain their vitality and agility, being able to live out their days happy and in the best of health.

You may also like our article on the Best Cat Food for Bengals.

Sources:

  1. Nutritional Needs of Older Cats, PetMD
  2. Stephanie Watson, Feeding Your Senior Cat, WebMD
  3. Mature Adult and Senior Cats, American Animal Hospital Association
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