As your cat ages, his needs will change. This is the same for all elderly cats, regardless of how energetic they still are. Everything from bedding to toy preferences will transform before your eyes. Food is no exception. In fact, one of the most important changes your cat will undergo is what he eats. His diet will need some major changes to accommodate his aging body and functions.
Table of Contents
- About Senior Cat Food
- Best Cat Food for Older Cats- Product Reviews
- Buying Guide: Best Cat Food for Older Cats
- How to Choose A High-Quality Senior Cat Food
- How Should I Feed My Senior Cat
- How Much I Should Feed My Senior Cat
About Senior Cat Food
Provided that your feline friend doesn’t have any serious health issues or medical conditions requiring specialized care and diet, it’s generally safe to switch him to a senior cat food. This is generally done after the age of seven. A blend of food designed for senior cats will be both high in protein and loaded with vitamins. This can help to aid your pet’s immune system in fighting off illnesses.
Typically, senior cat food will also contain fewer calories, accommodating your cat’s slowing activity levels and metabolism. A low-calorie blend of food will help your cat to maintain a healthy weight. So, there won’t be too much strain on the joints of their legs and back or too much pressure put on their heart.
Aging cats also fall victim to a loss of smell and taste. Senior cat food uses an increased amount of natural meat protein, which is strong in both smell and taste, to increase the chances of your cat being able to fully enjoy their food.
The food is also smaller and softer than regular adult food, as it’s important to preserve your cat’s teeth as they age. A softer food is also good for cats who have lost teeth.
Senior cat food isn’t a cut-and-dry product, however. It comes in a number of varieties that cater to cats with a host of health problems, including bad oral health, heart disease, and digestive issues.
Best Cat Food for Older Cats- Product Reviews
Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging
Available in both 3 and 7-pound bags, Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging is a high-quality, price-smart senior cat food option. The first ingredient in every bag is real meat, with the following ingredients consisting of wholesome grains and vegetables. They also have a number of vitamins and minerals. Mixed in with the regular, easy-to-chew pieces, are specialized LifeSource bits that contain helpful antioxidants and nutrients that are beneficial to your aging cat’s health.
In addition to being nutritional, Healthy Aging is also tasty, as it’s free of bland by-product meal or processed ingredients. It contains only all-natural ingredients that are sun-ripened and organic without the use of hormones or steroids.
- Wholesome ingredients
- Free of preservatives
- Contains LifeSource bits
- Promotes whole body health
- Two bag size options
Delectables Lickable Wet Cat Treats
The Delectables Lickable line of wet cat treats are perfect for senior cats. Each perfectly portioned can is full of soft, protein-rich meat and meat juice that has been carefully combined to create an easy-to-eat texture for cats with dental problems.
Each can of food contains plenty of vitamin E and B to support a healthy immune system. They also have added potassium and probiotics to aid in the process of digestion. The potassium helps maintain kidney function during your cat’s senior life. So, your cat can enjoy his favorite treat within just a few seconds, because the treats come in an easy-open package. This makes it easy to put the treat into his bowl.
- Easy to open packaging
- Vitamins E and B
- Soft texture
- Appealing flavors
- Great taste
Iams Proactive Health
Iams Proactive Health comes in three convenient bag sizes. The food inside of each bag is made with all-natural, 100% white chicken meat that is rich in protein. It also contains vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and L-carnitine that work to keep your pet’s bones and joints healthy and strong. It also helps keep weight at a healthy level.
The bite size pieces of kibble offer a crunchy texture that promotes the prevention of plaque buildup on teeth, while the irresistible flavors keep your cat coming back for more.
- Made with high-protein chicken meat
- Contains vitamins and nutrients
- Promotes a healthy weight
- Keeps teeth healthy and strong
Wellness Complete Health
With a specially designed senior formula, Wellness Complete Health dry cat food is the perfect addition to your senior cat’s diet. The nutrient rich formula encourages a healthy lifestyle through its ingredients and mouthwatering taste that makes cats who have lost their appetite excited for meal times.
Each bag of delicious chicken-flavored food is made with real chicken and chicken meal, as well as a delicate balance of vitamins and minerals that give your cat’s immune system and internal organs a boost. The morsels are smaller than a green pea, allowing them to be eaten with ease even if your cat is missing a few teeth. The formula is free of preservatives and doesn’t contain any soy, corn, or fillers.
- No preservatives, additives, or fillers
- Small sized pieces
- Made with real meat
- Chalked full of nutrients
Hill’s Science Diet
Each bag of Hill’s Science Diet cat food is formulated for indoor cats who are reaching the senior portion of their life. In every bag is a unique blend of antioxidants and vitamins C and E. The ingredients in this tasty food have been carefully measured and hand selected before addition, ensuring the quality of each bag of food.
None of the ingredients found in Hill’s Science Diet contain anything less than all-natural, organic meat and meat meal. Each promotes dental health through its subtle crunch and small size, which are both easy on the gums and tough on plaque.
- Bite sized pieces
- Packed with vitamins C and E
- Made with quality ingredients
- Promotes dental health
Buying Guide: Best Cat Food for Older Cats
As cats age, they require different diets at different stages of their life. Kittens require certain things that adult cats do not. Senior cats are no exception. Just like people they need food that will support a healthy life and provide the things that their bodies may not generate naturally anymore.
Special Dietary Requirements for your Senior Cat
For a pet food to be considered acceptable for senior animals it needs to meet a certain criteria.
Senior cats are more prone to dehydration than they are at younger ages because they tend to drink less. Dehydration can lead to many issues including digestive problems like constipation and a decrease in kidney function. Adding warm water to their dry food can help combat this. It can also make the food look more appealing. If your cat is still not drinking, you can add flavoring to their water bowl.
Aid Against Age Related Illnesses
Certain ingredients or nutrients may become even more vital when your cat reaches their senior years. For example, your cat needs more omega-3 fatty acids as a senior then they do as an adult or kitten.
This is especially true for those senior cats with cancer. While canned food is not recommended for cats as they grow up, senior cats can benefit from it being included in their diet to combat dental problems.
Taurine is an amino acid that can help prevent and combat heart disease. Dietary fiber can help with many things, including diabetes and constipation. Your veterinarian can help to determine what your cat specifically needs and what they would benefit from taking.
Senior cats can have a harder time digesting the fat and protein in their food. This means that they are not getting the full quantity of nutrients from their food, but instead are passing the food through their system, without absorbing it completely. To combat this, you will need to feed your senior cat’s food with higher percentages of protein and fat. So, they will still get what they need, even with the portions that are not absorbed.
Higher Vitamin Levels
Much like protein and fat, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes are also only partially absorbed as cats age. Because antioxidants and vitamins like A, C and E are incredibly beneficial, not only to the overall health of your cat, but also for reducing the effects of aging. It is important to make sure they are getting the appropriate amount.
Consult with your doctor about whether or not your cat can absorb enough of these vital nutrients through food. They may need to take supplements as well. This can be determined through blood tests and will help you rest assured that your pet is getting everything they need to stay healthy and happy.
How to Choose A High-Quality Senior Cat Food
You should always talk with your cat’s veterinarian first before choosing a new food to confirm any deficiencies your cat may have or dietary restrictions that limit what they can eat. Once that discussion has taken place and you know what your senior cat can and cannot have you should then aim to find a food that has the high-quality ingredients your cat should have to live a long and healthy life.
As cats age, they become much more susceptible to dental health problems. Dental disease can not only be painful but can lead to a greater increase in other illnesses like heart disease and infections. This is why it is important to look for food that promotes oral health. Pay attention to the foods that will help reduce plaque and prevent gum disease.
Older animals are not nearly as active as their younger counterparts. This is because they don’t burn as many calories as they did when they were younger. They don’t need a high calorie food. Many pets put on weight as they age because they are less active, but still on the same food.
Look for food that isn’t high in calories or fat like a weight maintenance formula. If your cat is losing weight you should consult your vet to make sure there isn’t a medical reason before changing their food to a higher calorie option.
High Quality Ingredients
It is important to look at the full list of ingredients in the food you are feeding your cat, no matter what age. But it is even more crucial for older cats because they need to get not only the necessary levels of protein, fat and fiber, but the nutrients those ingredients provide.
Higher quality ingredients are typically more easy to digest than lower quality counterparts. This promotes your cat’s system utilizing the nutrients from the ingredients rather than simply pushing it through the digestive tract.
Look for proteins like fish, poultry and beef and opt for food that contains taurine to promote heart health. The animal proteins in your cat’s food is key not only for their energy levels but for their overall health.
This includes helping maintain muscle tone, having your pet’s coat stay silky and shiny, and keep skin from getting dry, flaky or having other issues. This is because protein from animals have amino acids that plant proteins do not.
Complex carbohydrates are much better for your senior cats, because it is easier for your cat to gain energy without overfeeding. Fiber is also a necessity and you should choose dietary fiber over insoluble fiber because it promotes better digestive health overall.
Antioxidants are also beneficial to older cats because they can help fight off and reduce some of the effects of aging. Other things to consider are the natural flavors, colors and preservatives.
Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives are very popular in pet foods. They can be disguised in a variety of different names but offer absolutely no nutritional benefit. While it may make the food look or smell more appealing to your pets, it is important to put the health of your cat first and go for what they need, rather than what they are more attracted to.
How Should I Feed My Senior Cat
When it comes to your senior cat, it’s not only about the food. Okay, it’s a lot about the food. If I give my cat food that he doesn’t like, he simply won’t eat it. So, you don’t only need to find a food your kitty will enjoy and that will work for their health. Additionally, you need to figure out how you should feed it to your cat. It’s a little thing, but even just serving the food in the right way can make a big difference.
When you’re feeding your senior cat, you want to make sure that you don’t overwhelm them with too much food, even if you’re giving them the right food. Instead of just placing down a large bowl, reduce the size of their bowl and give them less.
The bowl you put the food in should be clean and low since some older cats don’t like it when their whiskers touch the side of the bowl. Make sure to place the bowl in the same place every day, and at around the same time. A quiet area works best, one which is away from their litter box.
Serving the Food
You have the right food and you know to give your kitty less of it. That’s great, but I know if I put the food out and my cat doesn’t eat it right away, he’ll end up turning his nose up later on. Make sure that you serve your cat’s food fresh so that it remains appealing. This is especially true with wet food; if your cat doesn’t eat it right away, put it away until they’re ready.
All food should also be given to your cat at room temperature. This allows your cat to taste and smell the food properly. If you’re serving wet food, which isn’t a bad idea since it will be easy for your cat to chew it, make sure to take it out of your fridge a few hours before you serve it. You can also use a microwave too, just until the food warms to room temperature. Wet food should never be hot.
With Other Cats
If you have other cats, where you feed your senior cat is important. Younger cats may engage in food stealing if you have the food bowls set up too closely. Your older kitty may eat slower, and get less food with those younger cats around. Don’t go through all the work of finding great food for your senior cat just for the younger kitties to steal it.
How Much I Should Feed My Senior Cat
You already know that you should be feeding your cat less food once they age, but you shouldn’t just pick a random amount and dump it in their bowl. You have to consider how much your senior cat moves around. Consider if they’re mostly an indoor cat, what their health conditions are, and their wellbeing in general.
If your older cat is an outdoor cat, or happens to still be moving around a lot, they’ll need more calories to keep them going. Look for a food that is designed for more active cats. However, if your cat likes to stay inside and seems to be slowing down, choose an option with fewer calories. This will help keep them at a healthy weight level.
Speaking of weight, be sure not to feed your cat too many treats. It’s hard not to give your cat a treat when they look up at you with those cute cat eyes, but older cats shouldn’t have too many treats. This increases the risk of obesity.
How much you feed your cat depends on their specific situation. Usually, older cats are either stuck where they don’t want to eat or where they eat too much. Either way, you need to help them by adjusting the way you feed them.
For an underweight cat, feed them small amounts of food often. This will be easier for them to manage and will ensure that you don’t leave the food out all day when your cat doesn’t finish it. Even a small amount of food should have more calories, though. It should also be good-smelling and easy for your cat to access.
For an overweight cat, the best thing to do is to adjust the number of calories you’re feeding them. Gradually cut the old food with the new food, so your cat doesn’t notice. You may also consider putting your cat’s food in a place where they have to work to get it, like a puzzle box. This doesn’t work for all cats, but it may help keep your cat’s mind active as they age, too.
Check on the feeding guidelines for your preferred food. This will let you know the general amount of food that’s okay, but try to adjust this depending on how active your cat is. The guide is only a general one and isn’t necessarily made for every type of cat out there. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your kitty to see how they react to the food, how much they’re eating, and their general health.
It’s not easy to see your pets age. When I noticed my cat slowing down, I knew I needed to do something about his diet. It wasn’t always easy with a picky guy like mine, but I finally found a food my cat enjoys. I also found the best way for me to feed it to him to help him remain healthy. Your senior cat deserves the best from both you and from their food, so pick an option you think they’ll like and try it out.