The Best Cat Foods for Senior Cats in 2020

Screenshot 20181127 144332 WhatsAppAs our feline friends get older, they go through a number of changes. While we can see the slightly shabby fur and the lack of activity, one thing that you need to make sure of is that you also address their changing nutritional needs.

Fortunately, finding the best cat food for senior cats is easier than most people think. So, if your cat is looking less spry kitten and more elderly statesman, then you’re in the right place. Read on, and we’ll help you find great food for your older cat.

Our Top Pick

Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging

Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Dry Cat Food 7lb 1This was our favorite of the senior cat foods available. It’s healthy, has great ingredients, and is specifically designed for those animals which are getting up there in years. Pick it up today, and you’ll see the difference!

The 5 Top-Rated Cat Foods for Senior Cats

Editor’s PicksBrandRating
Best Dry Cat Food for Senior CatsBlue Buffalo Healthy Aging4.9
Best Wet Cat Food for Senior CatsHill’s Science Diet for Senior Cats4.7
Best Grain Free Senior Cat FoodNUTRO Wild Frontier Grain Free Dry Cat Food4.6
Best Cat Food for Older Cats With Sensitive StomachsPurina ONE Sensitive Systems Adult Dry Cat Food4.4
Best Budget Very Old CatsRoyal Canin Appetite Control Spayed/Neutered 12+ Adult Dry Cat Food4.1

How to Address Changing Dietary Needs in Senior Cats

Senior cats, just like us, have different nutritional requirements than when they’re younger. It’s not a drastic change, but keeping up your cat’s health becomes more and more important the older they get, which means that addressing these needs now instead of later is important.

The biggest difference is that elderly cats need more protein than their younger counterparts. So, when you’re looking for food that is suitable for senior cats, you need to focus on the protein content before anything else: including labels.

cats 32Good elderly cat food will also contain nutrients that help support joint health and heart health. These include Omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin. Added to a higher protein content, you’re looking at a much healthier elderly cat.

As cats age, their organs can also suffer damage. Antioxidants like vitamin E are also a good thing to have in considerable amounts.

Since cat’s dentition can also suffer as they age, you may want to consider a wet food or those foods which support dental health as well.

In the end, the food differences aren’t enormous, but they’re definitely there. Most of us are doing our best to keep our senior cats alive and healthy for as long as possible, so senior food is a good idea when the time comes.

When Should I Switch to a Senior Cat Food?

cats 47Cats vary widely in their lifespans, but a good general guideline is to begin to make the switch around seven years of age.

Indoor-only cats may make it to eight or nine years before they really begin to show signs of age since they tend to live longer, but it’s a good idea to begin to consider switching earlier than that.

In the end, it’s mostly when they begin to show signs of age that you should absolutely make the switch, but it’s a wise idea to begin the transfer earlier than that in order to keep your cat healthier for longer.

Top Senior Cat Foods in 2019

Here’s the meat of the matter: we’ve picked out a wide range of different foods that are suitable for all different situations for elderly cats. Take a good look before deciding on one: it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. That said, the most important factor is that your cat will actually eat it, so be wary of making overly large shifts.

Best Dry Cat Food for Senior Cats

Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging

Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Dry Cat Food 7lb 1
Blue Buffalo produces some of the best dry cat food around. Period. Their senior option is no exception to the rule, and it comes packed with a ton of protein, real ingredients, and some extra antioxidants that’ll help keep your aging cat healthy for a long time to come.

This one comes with Blue Buffalo’s Lifesource Bits. Which are… well, they’re a blend of vitamins that are designed for cats in different stages of their life. In this case, they’re there for mature kitties to make sure that they’re getting the heart and eye support they need to keep going.

cats 11The other ingredients are great, but like any good cat food, the focus here is on the meat of the matter: deboned chicken in this case. It’s a great combination overall, and rice is less likely than other grains to cause allergic reactions.

The only real issue is that it’s rather expensive. If you’ve got the money, however, it’s a great way to ensure that your senior cat stays healthy for a long time to come.

4.8/5
Our Opinion:

Blue Buffalo steals the show with its Healthy Aging mix. Deboned chicken and some veggies make things great, but it's a bit on the pricey side.

  • The primary ingredient is deboned chicken
  • High in protein
  • Lifesource Bits for extra vitamins
  • Formulated for aging pets
  • Not grain-free due to inclusion of rice
  • Rather expensive per pound

Best Wet Cat Food for Senior Cats

Hill’s Science Diet for Senior Cats

Hill’s Science comes to the rescue for cats that need their wet food rather than kibble with their excellent mix for older cats. They’ve got a strong veterinarian backing and put their best foot forward when it comes to ensuring that your mature cat gets the nutrition they need.

Hill s Science Cat Food Chicken 2.9Oz 2It’s available in a few different flavors, and matching them up with your cat’s current diet is a great way to make sure that you’ve got something your cat will love. It’s packed with protein, and the only real inclusion apart from great protein is the vitamins that are designed for an older cat’s lifecycle.

For most people, it’s the vet recommendations that make it stand out, and they’ve got a lot of actual backing to their claims. If your cat loves wet food, then give it a shot.

That said, some people aren’t comfortable with the byproduct inclusions, and it’s a bit expensive.

4.5/5
Our Opinion:

For those senior cats that need wet food due to dentition, or just having been spoiled all their lives, Hill’s Science Diet for Senior Cats is still one of the best around. Give it a shot.

  • Contains high-quality protein
  • Vitamin mix included
  • Most cats love it
  • Multiple flavors available
  • Contains some byproducts
  • Rather expensive

Best Grain Free Senior Cat Food

NUTRO Wild Frontier Grain Free Dry Cat Food

NUTRO Dry Cat Food Senior Chicken 11lb 1Some cats have some pretty serious allergies to grains, and if that’s the case for your aging pet, then you may want to look into NUTRO Wild Frontier. They offer two different flavors for senior cats, and it comes in the form of a super high-quality kibble.

The biggest draw here is that it’s completely grain-free. Even high-quality foods often include a bit of corn starch or rice to fluff out the resulting product, but in this case, it’s all protein and veggies.

It does have additives in the form of vitamins to support your cat’s heart and eye health. That’s a big bonus in most cases, especially for cats with known allergies. Overall it’s just a good strategy as well since it mimics a natural diet much more closely.

Screenshot 20190118 190141 WhatsAppOn the other hand, this food is expensive. Per pound, it’s roughly twice that of our favorite, so be prepared to shell out some serious cash to keep your older cat healthy. Not all cats take to it readily either, adding a bit of a stumbling block if your cat is allergic to grains and getting older.

4.5/5
Our Opinion:

On the other hand, it's the best grain free senior cat food around by a long shot. Check your pocketbook and see what you can do if your cat has grain allergies, but apart from the cost, it's a wonderful addition to your mature cat's diet.

  • Completely grain-free
  • High-quality protein
  • Added vitamins and antioxidants
  • Very high in protein
  • Rather expensive
  • Not to the taste of all cats

Best Cat Food for Older Cats With Sensitive Stomachs

Purina ONE Sensitive Systems Adult Dry Cat Food

Purina ONE Adult Dry Cat Food 22lb 1If you’re looking for the best cat food for older cats who vomit, then you’re headed down the right path with this offering from Purina. While it’s not specially formulated for elderly cats, the high-protein and high-fat makeup of the food lends itself well to the nutritional needs of mature cats, and it can help with sensitive stomachs.

The antioxidant and Omega fatty acid blend are great for coat and organ support. This makes it an excellent choice for elderly cats, but the big draw is that it’s designed to keep their stomach settled as well.

It’s also designed to help with dental problems. Cleaning plaque and keeping teeth healthy for an added bonus.

Purina ONE Adult Dry Cat Food 3.5lb 8It’s a bit expensive, and it’s not exactly formulated or senior cats. Still, it’s better than having your cat vomit, and the blend is close enough that we can still recommend it for those elderly cats that tend to have stomach issues.

4.5/5
Our Opinion:

For stately felines that may need to throw up, you're looking at a great option with Purina ONE Sensitive Systems. It's well-formulated for keeping your cat healthy, and it'll cut down on GI issues as soon as they're switched over to it.

  • Supports dental health
  • Great nutrient profile
  • Extra antioxidants
  • Made for sensitive stomachs
  • Not perfectly formulated for mature cats
  • A bit pricey

Best Budget Very Old Cats

Royal Canin Appetite Control Spayed/Neutered 12+ Adult Dry Cat Food

Royal Canin Appetite Control Adult Dry Cat Food 1Some of our cats live to a rather stately age. If your cat is pushing farther into the double digits, then they’ll need some extra support for their systems, so dig in and take a look at this one.

The biggest advantage over other mature cat foods is the fact that it’s formulated to handle renal problems before they occur. Kidneys are a big failure point in elderly cats, and any extra support is very welcome.

The vitamin balance has also been shifted a little bit, allowing for elderly cats to continue to enjoy high energy levels and other organ support as time goes on. It’s a good idea to switch to a formula meant for truly old cats, and this one is designed specifically for them.

Like all of our picks, it’s a bit pricey. It’s also got a lot of byproducts, so it’s not great for cats with a grain allergy.

4.5/5
Our Opinion:

Still, if your cat has gone from mature to stately, then you should take a look into this offering from Royal Canin. Ingredients aside the vitamin support should help your cat enjoy a lengthy stay on the planet.

  • Renal support from phosphorous
  • Designed for old cats
  • Lowered protein to help with kidneys
  • Shifted nutrient balance for organ health
  • A bit expensive
  • Not the best ingredients compared to some options

Switching an older cat’s eating habits can take a bit more time than switches earlier in a cat’s life cycle, but it’s usually not too hard.

cats 13You may want to try just giving them the new food in the beginning. If that works, then you’re good to go, not every cat needs a longer period of transition.

If they don’t take it, then you’ll want to slowly bump up the amount of new food mixed in with their old food. Start at 25% and raise the content by another 25% every three or four days until they’re completely switched over.

It’s quick and easy. If your cat just refuses to accept it, then you may need to try out another food to make sure that your cat is getting the support it needs as a senior. It’s a good idea to begin to make the switch around their 7th birthday since that’s when most cats will begin to show signs of aging.

Some Senior Cat Supplements for Consideration

Supplementation for pets is a bit controversial, and the truth is that as your cat ages, you may need to go through a wide range of supplements.

Purina ONE Adult Dry Cat Food 3.5lb 8The most important ones are going to be for their joints and heart. Arthritis and other problems with joint degeneration can seriously mess up a cat’s quality of life. Supplementation with glucosamine, Omega fatty acids, and chondroitin is the go-to for joint problems, and the fatty acids will also help with health in general.

Probiotics become more necessary, as well. Supporting your cat’s gut health is a primary concern for many, especially since it reduces the risk of GI problems like constipation and vomiting.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sit there and map all of these out. Instead, you can easily find all-in-one supplements that are the perfect solution for your aging animal.

For our money, SIMIEN PureAll seems to do the trick. Pick it up along with a mature food, and you’ve got an excellent solution to your animal’s aging problems.

Senior Cat Food FAQ

Royal Canin Appetite Control Adult Dry Cat Food 4We’ve anticipated some of your questions, mostly because we had them ourselves as we did the research for this guide to senior cat food, so let’s dive in. If you’ve got something we haven’t answered, ask in the comments, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

Is there a formula for “cat years”?

Probably. The problem is that different breeds and lifestyles lend cats to have a much wider age range than you’ll find in cats. Even compared to humans, it’s a pretty impressive spread. Some cats won’t make it much past 12 years, but they’ve been known to live to 18+. Put simply: 7 is getting up there, 12 is elderly when you’re looking at your cat’s age.

Why does the need for protein change?

Cats are supercarnivores, meaning that in the wild, over 90% of their diet comes from eating other animals. As they age, their ability to convert protein into energy begins to go down, so they need more to maintain a healthy activity level. Unfortunately, when they become truly elderly, this high protein intake can cause kidney problems, which is why foods for cats that are 11+ years old begin to go down in protein.

Is a senior cat food necessary?

That really depends on a case-by-case basis. In general, it’s a good idea to prolong the overall lifespan of your feline. Their changing needs can be met easily, and it’s possible for your cat to live much longer if they’ve won the genetic lottery and are given an appropriate diet in their old age. Vet support helps as well.

Is there anything else I can do to help my cat live longer?

Regular vet visits are a good idea to help. The best thing you can do is keep your cat indoors, however. Indoor cats often live at least four years longer than outdoor cats. The difference in lifestyle is pretty intense: it’s not a bad thing to make sure your cat stays indoors.

Keep Your Cat Going!

IMG 20190929 WA0035Your mature cat deserves some better food. Finding the best senior cat food around is a great way to make sure that your cat keeps going long into their old age. Add in some supplements, and you’re looking at a longer, healthier life for your cat.

Give one of our picks a shot. Keeping your cat going in their old age is awesome, and the fact they’ll be around longer for kitty cuddles is awesome!

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