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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, as cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need animal protein to survive. Animal protein should always be the major ingredient in the diet of a 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 a 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 that is for senior cats 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 or ask your vet if there is anything you need to do to optimize the diet.

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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 and
  • 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, 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 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. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Senior Consult Cat Food
3. Nutro Senior Chicken Canned Cat food
4. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Canned Cat Food 

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 that there were 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.

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.

2. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Senior Consult Canned Cat Food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Senior Consult Canned Cat Food

  • This food is a precise mixture containing vitamins and minerals required for aging cats and will also help maintain healthy weight. This formulation has reduced phosphorus content to assist keeping the urinary tract system healthy by promoting a healthy bladder to help with the prevention of forming urinary crystals. Older cats are more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections which do need veterinarian intervention with possible tests and medication.
  • Note: Advice is given to transition from the old food to the new by mixing some of the new food with the old diet until day 7 when the new food can be given alone.
  • This specialty food does require a veterinary prescription.  It is an easy process. You provide the details of your veterinarian at checkout and they will follow up. If you have a script, take a photo and email it to

Ingredients Water Sufficient for Processing, Pork By-Products, Chicken Liver, Rice Flour, Natural Flavors, Powdered Cellulose, Wheat Gluten, Fish Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Guar Gum, Leucine, Dried Tomato Pomace, Calcium Sulfate, Taurine, Carrageenan, Lecithin, L-Tryptophan, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Hydrolyzed Yeast, 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, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Choline Chloride, Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Trace Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), L-Carnitine, Chondroitin Sulfate.

3. Nutro, The Natural Choice – Senior Cat Chicken Recipe 

Nutro Chicken for Senior Cat

  • The protein is chicken and the food is supplemented with vitamins and minerals as can be seen in the Ingredient list and also Taurine ( an essential amino acid found in protein).
  • The importance of protein can’t be understated for cats and in particular as they age.  Protein will help to support healthy lean muscles.
  • This cat food is made in the USA In Franklin, Tennessee. It uses only natural ingredients with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. A big plus is that the cans are BPA free.
  • The reviews for this food are overwhelmingly positive. 95% of people who had purchased this product would recommend it to others.
  • The food has a smooth texture and is lap-able so perfect for senior cats. This is a very popular food amongst older kitties. It is soft and can even be managed well if all teeth have had to be removed.

Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Pork Broth, Natural Flavors, Guar Gum, Minerals (Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Sodium Phosphate, Fish Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Salt, Taurine.

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

4. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Canned Cat Food

  • 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.

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.

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 that 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 look 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.

We do have to watch the weight creeping on! No more snacks!

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