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If your cat is getting up there in years, it may be time to change what they eat. We don’t often think about what’s in our own food, much less our cats’, but there’s a lot that goes into keeping them their happy, youthful selves.
By age 7, many veterinary experts consider cats to be “senior” and that brings with it a number of unique challenges.
As your cat ages, changing activity levels, a slowing metabolism, and countless other health considerations can greatly affect their nutritional needs, and their diet should reflect this.
Our Top Picks
Based on our own experience and research, here are our top picks for dry cat food for older cats:
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Cat Food with Chicken
- Iams Proactive Health Senior Adult Dry Cat Food
- Nutro Senior Indoor Cat Dry Food
- Nutro Max Senior Dry Cat Food
- Hill’s Science Diet Hairball Control Cat Food
- Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Senior Dry Cat Food
1. Blue Wilderness Dry Cat Food with Chicken
Blue Wilderness is a brand of cat food from Blue Buffalo which seeks to emulate the diet of the cat’s wild ancestor: the Lynx.
Its primary ingredient is chicken – no byproducts – meaning it’s loaded with high-quality proteins which older cats will have much less trouble digesting than more grain-based dry foods.
Blue Wilderness is also made with LifeSource Bits: a precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which help boost your cat’s immune health and digestive system.
This cat food is healthy for cats of all ages, and they’re sure to love it too.
- a very popular and highly rated cat food
- some cat owners report that this food makes their cat sick, so be cautious. Sometimes, cats may react negatively to it.
- the bag could be more durable.
- the LifeSource Bits are concentrated in dark pellets and are not spread evenly throughout the food. Make sure that servings contain a decent amount of them.
2. Iams Proactive Health Senior Dry Cat Food
Iams Healthy Senior Cat Food is designed to promote the health of your senior cat in a number of ways.
This blend has Vitamin E and Omega-6 acids to help to bolster the immune responses of your cat, and calcium and potassium supplements help fend off arthritis and promote good bone health.
Much like the Blue Wilderness cat food, the main ingredient in this cat food is real chicken. This food is also infused with L-Carnitine, an amino acid which helps senior cats break down fats much more easily.
- we have found that this Iams make helps lethargic and slowing cats to become more active and energetic.
- can fill in bald spots, result in less shedding and a softer coat.
- very enjoyable to most cats, and keeps them full for longer.
3. Nutro Essentials Indoor Dry Cat Food
This food product is especially good for cat owners wanting an all-natural dry cat food.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a GMO-free senior cat food blend that’s chock-full of fiber for improved digestive health and easy litter box cleanup.
Corn, wheat, and soy-free, its main ingredient is also chicken, with added brown rice to add some high-quality grains to your cat’s diet. It’s fortified with essential nutrients which promote a healthy heart and a strong immune system.
- this cat food really does a great job at making fur softer and silkier.
- as is typical with Nutro, many cats with feeding issues will eat this food with no problems.
- great value for money.
- promotes normal and solid bowel movements that don’t smell awful.
4. Nutro Max Senior Dry Cat Food
This is another cat food from Nutro that is made specifically to accommodate the needs of older cats. If you’re not so hung up on non-GMO, which the above Nutro food type is for, then this is a great option.
In particular, this cat food features real chicken, as is typical. It contains key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with cranberries, blueberries, and tomato pomace for a strong immune system.
It also contains natural fibers and brewers rice that digests easily. Finally, there are Omega-6 fatty acids, fish oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil to promote a shiny coat and soft, healthy skin.
- some cats have sensitive stomachs, and we have found that such cats never throw up Nutro Max.
- the food itself isn’t very hard, and the pieces are flat and easy on the teeth.
- the Nutro Max often works great with senior cats that are picky about their food.
5. Hill’s Science Diet Hairball Control Cat Food
If your senior cat has issues with hairballs, this is the perfect cat food for it. Hill’s Science Diet Hairball Control provides the right nutrition and natural fiber to help prevent hairball formation.
It’s made with natural ingredients, it contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that nourish and soften the fur and skin, and it’s packed with quality protein for lean muscle maintenance. Taurine is also provided for kidney and heart support.
This cat food is made in the USA with global ingredients, and is a trusted veterinarian cat foot.
- this cat food has been proven to reduce vomiting and hairballs.
- consider putting some kibble in a bag and breaking it up with a small hammer or mallet. This will make it easy to eat for cats that have difficulties chewing.
- promotes regular and solid bowel movements.
- a lot of cats find it delicious and prefer it over other foods.
6. Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Senior Dry Cat Food
The PRIME PLUS dry cat food is a chicken & rice formula, with a unique blend that has been shown in a 9-year study to extend and improve the lives of cats age 7 and over.
The protein content in this cat food is more than sufficient to promote lean muscle mass and help maintain a healthy weight in your cat. It contains key nutrients that support an older cat’s immune system, improve skin health, and keep the stomach microflora in good shape.
The antioxidants vitamin E and beta carotene are included in the formula, along with prebiotic fiber from chicory root, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, and omega-6 fatty acids from soybean oil.
- high average customer rating.
- we have found that this food can breathe new life into aging, slowing cats, making them more active and social.
- this quality cat food is easy to eat, enjoyable (even for picky eaters), helps to reduce vomiting, and clears up bowel movements.
- a very healthy food for your cat.
There’s a lot to consider when picking a good dry food for your cat.
What should it contain?
The best dry cat food for senior cats should be high in protein, with a fat content tailored to your cat’s body size: more fat for slimmer cats, and a bit less for huskier cats.
Meat and fish are high-quality proteins, meaning they’re much more easily digested than things like soy or corn, which certain pet foods use as a less expensive filler protein.
There are plenty of commercially available brands of “senior” pet food, made with the needs of older cats in mind.
Many of these brands contain useful nutrients like Omega-6 fatty acids and added vitamins to help boost your cat’s digestion and immune system. Many also have smaller, softer pieces of kibble, which your cat will appreciate if they are missing teeth or have other dental problems which make chewing difficult.
Remember that cats can be very fussy eaters, and as they age, their senses of taste and smell diminish a good deal. It’s important to make sure your cat’s food is both nutritious and delicious – after all, the best food is the food they actually eat!
Many commercial senior formulas are more flavorful for just this reason, and as a carnivore, your cat will naturally gravitate towards meat-filled pet foods.
Much like humans, cats tend to take it easy in their golden years, and conditions like arthritis can make it hard to move around as much as they used to. Because of this, many senior cats tend to pack on a bit of extra weight in their later years, and old-age obesity can become a serious issue.
Many cats, however, have the opposite problem. Studies show that it’s much harder for senior cats to digest their food, especially past age 12.
Because of this, many cats actually wind up losing both fat and muscle as they age. This is why it’s important to make sure that your cat is getting plenty of high-quality proteins throughout the day.
Senior cats are also prone to a variety of health complications including kidney disease, vitamin deficiencies, and diabetes. Your veterinarian may ask that your cat’s phosphorus, salt, or carbohydrate intake be monitored, or that it be given foods high in vitamin E or other antioxidants, depending on their own personal needs.
While your cat may not be the spry little kitten it once was, there’s plenty that you can do as an owner to make sure it maintains its youthful vigor.
A diet high in immune-boosting vitamins and easily-digested nutrients can go a long way towards making sure your feline friends are as healthy as can be, and there are several pet food brands whose products are formulated with just that in mind.
Remember that your cat is unique, and you should ideally consult a veterinarian to determine what diet is right for them and their specific needs.
great reviews, Pet Citadel.
I have two cats that are both really getting up there in age. they were really starting to slow down, and I was afraid for both their mental and physical health. I decided to try a quality pet food designed for older cats – thought it might refresh them and give them more energy. I ended up getting the Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus food that you reviewed here, and I’m so pleasantly surprised at the difference it has made…
I think a lot of people underestimate how important the right food is in a cat’s life, especially an older cat. My advice is to experiment with a few different foods and see which one does the most good for your cat. Some cats will like certain foods, and others won’t. focus on foods with the “older cat” label first.
Great to hear that this food had such a positive effect on your cats. It’s true that for any food, some cats may love it, and others won’t; like humans, cats have different bodily needs and preferences.