What Is The Best Diet For An Old Cat? Tips for Choosing the Right Diet

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The best diet for an old cat consists of mainly animal protein. Cats need animal protein to survive because they are obligate carnivores. The major ingredient in the diet of your older cat should always be animal protein. Foods that are gravy based are also recommended because of the moisture content.

Senior cats (unlike dogs and humans) require an increase in energy requirements as they age, rather than a decline in caloric intake, 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 senior cats into old age. Commercial 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 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 cat’s diet, further.

an old cat sitting in front of his food bowl

Key Takeaways – 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

A mature cat is less inclined to drink water as they age. If your senior cat eats and prefers the pate style of wet foods, no problem, the food can be mashed and some liquid added.

One problem can be, that sometimes the cat just wants to lick the gravy from cat food containing gravy. Even if this is the case, usually the cat will return to eating the food, even after a little taste of gravy licking.

Our senior cat always licked the gravy first, 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.

Older Cats Can lose Sense of Smell

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’s ability as he aged.

Food that once brought him running now had to be placed almost under his nose.

Best Diet For An Old Cat – Choices

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 different foods reviewed here are suitable for older or senior cats.

Your choice might come down to the points listed below:

  • the price point of the cat food for old cats
  • or the ingredients to best suit an old cat in the cat food

We might think that our senior cat will get bored with only one or two flavors of cat food, however that does not seem to be the case 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, 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 Cat Food For Mature Cats

Mature Chicken Recipe Canned Cat food

Protein should always make up the bulk of your senior cat’s diet. The major ingredient in this food is a high quality protein with zero by product of meal or wheat, corn or soy. Protein is first in the ingredient list.  

Another positive of this cat food for old cats, is that 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. These agents act to bind the product but nutritionally they are not a part of the diet,

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

This senior cat food has no artificial preservatives or flavors.

This senior cat food is a very finely minced pate.  If you normally feed your senior cat foods with 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.


Protein at 8% is the major ingredient in this cat food.

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.


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 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 Of Blue Buffalo Wilderness Cat Food For Mature Cats

The senior cat food 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 old cat may need to have teeth extracted. How will your old cat eat with less teeth or no teeth?

2. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Cat Food

grain free diet best for old cats

Importantly for senior cats, the levels of phosphorus and magnesium are low in this food, which is a positive, at only 0.35% and 0.0020% respectively. Cat food should be low in phosphorus and magnesium because high dietary phosphorus and magnesium intake through the diet is known to worsen the state of kidney disease in cats.

This senior cat food is grain free. It can be eaten by younger cats, under the age of 11 but this is not recommended as an ongoing diet, 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, minerals plus Taurine.

Amazingly, 98% of people who had purchased this cat food for old cats 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 Purina more than anything else.

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


As an overall general comment this is good senior cat food is well tolerated by older cats.

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.


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 pet food is the only way to find out.

Specifications Of Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Cat Food

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.

the best diet for an old cat - pinterest image

3. Royal Canin Aging 12+ Cat Food

cat food for age 12+

This senior cat food is formulated for cats 12 years of age, and over.

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

The food labelled – Loaf in Sauce – is also formulated to be easier for aging cats to eat because the moisture is retained in the sauce and the loaf style is easily manageable with no small pieces of food to contend with.

Royal Canin has over 200 formulas in their product range. All cat food formulas for senior cats are developed by vets and nutritional experts so you can expect the best with Royal Canin.


This cat food has all the essential nutrients to suit the needs of aging cats.

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


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.


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.

a healthy old cat

4. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Cat Food For Indoor Mature Cats

cat food for indoor mature cats

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

Feeding senior cats is recommended at 1 can per 6.8 pounds of bodyweight, each day.

This cat food for old cats 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 it in with the pate.


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

This senior cat food has top quality ingredients.


Some cats do not like this food.

Sometimes the cans arrive (from online shopping) in a dented state.

Specifications Of Blue Buffalo

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).

Best Diet For An Old Cat – Blue Buffalo Mature

We have chosen Blue Buffalo senior cat food because it is specifically formulated for old cats and contains added vitamins and minerals.

The ingredients in the senior diet food, including the protein, are of the highest quality. There are zero by-product fillers or wheat or soy or artificial colors and preservatives.  This canned food for cats really is, a superior product.

Mature Chicken Recipe Canned Cat food

What If My Old Cat Prefers Dry Food?

Many cats prefer dry cat food and this may be the case with your senior cat.

Older cats with dental problems can have trouble managing dry kibble, even though the food may be excellent quality. Wet cat food can be easier for older cats to manage.

To overcome this problem try adding a a small amount of wet food as a topper. This will moisten the dry food and make it easier for the cat to manage.

Old Cats – Importance Of A Healthy Body Weight

An integral part of cats remaining healthy into old age is sustaining a healthy weight as they age.  Older felines can easily become overweight.

As cats age they slow down and become more sedentary in nature. Don’t give your cat treats too often as this will be a sure path to weight gain. Obese cats have more of a risk of developing diabetes.

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 normal weight range. Sometimes we had to cut back a little on the kindness (too may treats) for him to maintain a healthy weight.  

However, when he reached old 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 weight loss, and once again this is when it is time to visit a veterinarian for an assessment of body condition and any possible underlying health conditions.

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

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