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What Is The Best Diet For An Old Cat?

The best diet for any cat and that includes older cats should consist of mainly animal protein. This is because cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need animal protein to survive. Animal protein should always be the major ingredient in the diet of your older cat. 

Protein making up the majority of the diet, definitely applies to your senior cat. Interestingly, senior cats (unlike dogs and humans) require an increase in energy requirements as they age rather than a decline, as is usually associated with older age as outlined in this article from Science Direct.

Feeding Your senior cat higher levels of protein also helps to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass.

Manufacturers of cat food make formulations specifically for senior cats that include added supplements that will assist them into older age.  Cat food for your senior cat, will not require any additional dietary supplement because it is already included in the food.

If your cat is fed on an entirely home cooked diet it may be a good idea to supplement with a multivitamin. Ask your vet if there is anything you need to do to optimize the home cooked diet.

What Is The Best Cat Food For A Senior Cat?

The best cat food for a senior cat is wet food that:

Has quality protein as the main ingredient

Is specially formulated for older cats

Is either canned or in pouches

Food in gravy rather than a pate style is preferred for older cats to ensure that they are getting moisture with their food. Some cats are less inclined to drink water as they age. If your cat prefers the pate style, no problem, the food can be mashed and some liquid added.

One issue people have sometimes is that the cat just wants to lick the gravy. Even if this is the case, generally the cat will return to eat the food even after a little taster of gravy licking. Our cat did this but always returned to eat the food. I am afraid to say that I have been guilty of wanting to eat the frosting rather than the cake. Maybe the cat had seen my less than desirable cake eating habits.

Something else to consider is that a cat’s senses start to fade as they get older so they might not be able to smell quite as keenly as when they were younger. This was quite noticeable with our senior cat. Food that once brought him running now had to be placed almost under his nose.

Best Diet For An Old Cat – Reviews

1.Blue Buffalo Wilderness For Mature Cats
2.Purina Pro Plan Focus 11+
3.Royal Canin Aging 12+
4.Blue Buffalo Grain Free For Indoor Mature Cats

The four products reviewed here are all for old or senior cats. Your choice might come down to the price point or the ingredients. Sometimes we think that the cat will be bored with only one or two flavors but that does not seem to be the case (mostly anyway) with cats.  

We are the ones who think a wide choice of flavors is desirable, cats not so much. Our cat was a wonderful rat catcher in his youth (yes, I need to admit are rats in the neighborhood).  He didn’t seem to get upset by the fact that all rats probably tasted the same.

1.Blue Buffalo Wilderness For Mature Cats

Mature Chicken Recipe Canned Cat food

The major ingredient in this food is a high quality protein with zero by product meal or wheat, corn or soy. Protein is first in the ingredient list.  

This product is grain free so does not contain gluten and wheat is not used as thickening agent. The thickening agents used in Blue Buffalo are guar gum, cassia gum potatoes and pea fiber. Nutritionally not a part of the diet, these agents act to bind the product.

If your cat has allergies you may want to read the full list of ingredients below. This product has vitamins and minerals added to support the health of a senior cat.

No artificial preservatives or flavors.

This food is a very finely minced pate.  If you normally feed your cat a gravy formula or if your senior cat has missing teeth try adding a small amount of water to the food and mashing it briefly with a spoon or fork.

Pros

Protein at 8% is the major ingredient.

There are no grains in this cat food.

Formulated with DHA and Taurine. Taurine is an essential component of cat food.

Cats with bad teeth manage this food satisfactorily.

Cons

There may be some quality control issues as some cat owners were dissatisfied. This may stem from the fact that the cans for Adult and Mature are very similar. It would be very easy to order the incorrect product which may not have the consistency or appearance you are expecting to see.

Specifications

The product reviewed is in a case of 24. There are two sizes of can to choose from, a 3oz can or a 5.5 oz can.

Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potatoes, Pea Flour, Natural Flavor, Pea Fiber, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Fish Oil, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Salt, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Mixed Tocopherols, L-Carnitine, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), preserved with Mixed Tocopherols.


Your cat may need to have teeth extracted. How will your cat eat with less teeth or no teeth?

2. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+

grain free diet best for old cats

The levels of phosphorus and magnesium are low in this food at only 0.35% and 0.0020% respectively.

It is grain free. It can be eaten by cats under the age of 11 but this is not recommended as ongoing as it is specifically formulated to support the health of older cats.

There is no doubt that Purina does always strive for excellence. This formula provides 25 essential vitamins and minerals plus Taurine.

Amazingly, 98% of people who had purchased this product would recommend it to others. Interestingly those lower reviews were sometimes not related to the quality of the food but rather that cat was a picky eater. Anyone who has a cat will know that “picky eater” is a real thing. As far as canned food was concerned our elderly cat loved all things Purina more than anything else.

Purina is always competitively priced. Flavors other than Salmon and Tuna are, Chicken and Beef.

Pros

As an overall general comment this food is well tolerated by older cats even though they can be picky.

Older cats with oral health problems are also able to manage this food.

Senior cats venturing into elderly status of 17 years plus give this food the thumbs up.

Cons

The only con is that it is impossible to say whether it will be a winner for all cats. We may think we will know what cats like to eat but they may have other ideas despite our best intentions. Testing the food is the only way to find out.

Specifications

The Adult Age 11+ product on this page and the ingredients listed are for the Salmon and Tuna flavor. There is another choice in this range which is Chicken and Beef. The magnesium content is 0.020%. There are 91 kilocalories per 3oz can.

Ingredients: Salmon, Liver, Water Sufficient for Processing, Meat By-Products, Fish, Chicken, Tuna, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Minerals [Potassium Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide], Added Color, Tricalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Taurine, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Niacin (Vitamin B-3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), Vitamin A Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B-7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9), Vitamin D-3 Supplement], Salt, Citric Acid, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Vitamin C), Choline Chloride. E-4678.


3. Royal Canin Aging 12+

cat food for age 12+

This cat food is formulated for cats 12 years and over.

It specifically has high levels of essential fatty acids to support joint health. Phosphorus levels are reduced to support kidney health.

Loaf in sauce is also formulated to be easier for aging cats to eat, the moisture is retained in the sauce and the loaf style is easily manageable with no small bits to contend with.

Royal Canin has over 200 formulas in their product range. They are all developed by vets and nutritional experts so you can expect the best with Royal Canin.

Pros

Nutritionally this food supports the needs of aging cats.

Cat owners of senior cats mostly report the cats enjoying this food, not throwing up as much and and in some cats, improved coat condition.

Cons

The can size has changed which has been inconvenient for some cat owners as the new size is (potentially) too small for two meals and too large for one meal.

Specifications

The cans are 5.1oz, each containing 122kcal.

Ingredients – Water Sufficient for Processing, Pork By-Products, Chicken Liver, Brewers Rice Flour, Chicken, Wheat Gluten, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken Liver Hydrolysate, Egg Product, Fish Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Carrageenan, Leucine, Guar Gum, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavors, Taurine, Tricalcium Phosphate, Dl-Methionine, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source of Vitamin E), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Cysteine, Glycine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate], Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Chondroitin Sulfate.


Should cats eat raw fish? You may be surprised at the answer. Read this article to find out.

4. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free For Indoor Mature Cats

cat food for indoor mature cats

Firstly this cat food contains no grain, gluten, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.

Feeding your cat is recommended at 1 can per 6.8 pounds of bodyweight, each day.

This is a pate style formula. If your cat is used to more gravy in his dinner and turns his nose up at pate, add a little water or chicken broth (no salt) and mix with the pate.

”The right blend of beneficial natural dietary fibers helps push hairballs through the digestion process and minimize litter box odor.” 

Blue Buffalo

Pros

Most cats seem to tolerate the texture of this food being a pate style.

Top quality ingredients.

Cons

No cons apart from some cats not liking this food and cans arriving in a dented state.

Specifications

This is a pack of 24 cans. 168kcal per 5.5ozcan.

Ingredients – Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Powdered Cellulose, Guar Gum, Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Cranberries, Blueberries, Salt, Choline Chloride, Carrageenan, Cassia Gum, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite, Niacin Supplement (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9).

Our First Choice is…

1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Mature 

We have chosen Blue Buffalo because it is specifically formulated for older cats and contains added vitamins and minerals.

The ingredients including the protein are of the highest quality. There are zero by-product fillers or wheat or soy or artificial colors and preservatives.  It really is a superior product.

Mature Chicken Recipe Canned Cat food

Healthy Weight and Senior Cats

An integral part of cats remaining healthy into old age is sustaining a healthy weight as they age.  Cats can easily become overweight. Be aware of being too kind to kitty and giving him treats, may mean excess weight as he ages.

As cats age they will slow down and become more sedentary in nature which means excess treats is a no no as it will be a sure path to weight gain.

An old cat needs a bed with soft but supported sides with a low front entry.

However the reverse can also be true and some elderly cats can lose weight and become very thin, even skinny and quite fragile.

Our cat was always in the healthy weight range, sometimes we had to cut back a little on the kindness for him to maintain a healthy weight.  However when he reached a very respectable senior age he became very thin as a result of several health conditions. Trips to the vet became a regular occurrence and he was on first name terms with all of the staff at the clinic.

Underlying health conditions can be a consideration with weight gain or loss and once again this is when it is time to visit a veterinarian for an assessment of any possible underlying health conditions.

two cats talking to each other
We do have to watch the weight creeping on! No more snacks!