older cats with bad teeth

What Is The Best Cat Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth?


​Updated April 2019

​We take such good care of our ​cats ​and as a result that they are living longer, so it is somewhat expected that there will be age related health issues. This includes periodontal or gum disease plus other oral health issues in cats. Your cat may need to have a tooth extracted or all teeth extracted and you worry about how your cat will manage with less teeth or no teeth.

As humans, we think that a cat losing some or all of its teeth will make eating difficult because that is what happens to​ us. There’s no false teeth for cats. ​Yet!

In fact, cats don't use their teeth for grinding food in the same way that we do.  They use their teeth for tearing and ripping as they would have done when hunting prey in the wild.The good news is is that your senior cat can still eat quite adequately even with teeth challenges.

In a hurry? Head straight to Recommendations (link in the Contents) for a quick summary of our current recommendations.

cat food for senior cats with bad teeth

Such a beautiful older cat!

What To Feed Old Cats With Bad Teeth

The solution is to give your senior cat, reasonably small chunks of food so that no tearing or ripping is required.

Surprisingly to us, cats can get along quite well with no teeth as they do not chew or grind food. As long as the pieces are smal​​​​l enough​​​​​​​ and tender, your cat with dental problems will be able to eat quite satisfactorily.

Because your senior cat needs moisture ​and may not drink as much ​as he did once, canned wet food is a good choice ​and ​some fresh protein when possible.

Note: Dry food can still be eaten by old cats with no teeth, however as a main dietary source, dry food for older cats is not recommended.  Dry food by nature contains carbohydrates which are difficult for a cat to digest. If you cat has developed feline diabetes, as our elderly cat has, carbohydrates are off the menu or strictly limited to a treat.

​Food Reviews For Older Cats With Bad Teeth

We have reviewed four canned cat food varieties that fit the following criteria

  • The food needs to be in small chunks and be protein based
  • The food needs to have gravy to help satisfy moisture needs 
  • The selections have little or no grains as cats find it hard to digest carbohydrates and this can be problematic in old cats

Royal Canin ​Aging Health Nutrition

Royal Canin Aging-  cat food old cats- Bad Teeth

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  • ​An older cat with sensitive gums and teeth will be able to manage this food as​ it consists of thin slices of protein in gravy.

    ​Cats of all ages like to lick the gravy from their food and that is fine as the gravy has the moisture content however sometimes the food can be all gravy and not much meat. A big plus for this food is that it does have plenty of meat.

    This product is specifically formulated for older cats.
  • ​Another plus factor is that this food contains high levels of essential fatty acids, EPA & DHA for healthy joint function​. As cats age they can have issues maneuvering themselves into a comfy position.

    The cans are 3 oz in size and there are 24 cans in a pack.
  • This is a top quality ​brand as ​cat owners would be aware, however you may not have known that there ​is a special variety for senior cats.

Purina Beyond Grain Free Adult Wet Cat Food

Purina wet food for cats with teeth problems

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This cat food is grain free so although we are primarily concerned with cats with no teeth, grain free is also an important consideration for aging cats as carbohydrates are difficult for cats to digest. As cats age excess carbohydrates can lead to other health problems.

  • There are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives in this food. It is made in the USA.
  • There are 12 different flavor choices. Each case contains 12 cans of the same flavor. Some flavors come as a pate style and some ​are made with gravy.

    For a cat with teeth problems the smaller chunks and moisture content of the cans with gravy will be easier to eat than a pate. If your cat prefers the pate flavors make sure they are thoroughly mashed to make it easier for him to eat and add a little liquid.
  • Often no teeth and senior go hand in hand so the gravy is a useful addition ​for moisture needs and would be the preferred choice.

Remember that animal protein should be the major source of the cats diet as cats are obligate carnivores so plant protein is not a consideration when feeding cats.


Hill's Science Diet Senior Wet Cat Food

The Hill's Science Diet consists of different products, wet canned food and dry food for cats.

The wet food has the advantage of containing the moisture that cats need plus it is suitable for old cats with bad teeth. There are no artificial flavors or preservatives.

Depending on the age of your cat, one product is specifically formulated for cats aged 11 plus and another range of products with far more variety than the 11 plus range is called the aged 7 plus range. Both varieties are canned food and all have gravy.

Hill's Science Diet ​​​​Adult 11+

Science Diet for older cats

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  • The 11 plus product ​has a choice of one flavor, so although this is an excellent product to include in the diet, supplementation with choices from the 7 plus range is an option. ​
  • These products are not grain free however read the list of ingredients and check to see if protein is near or at the top of the list.

Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ ​

wet canned food for senior cats with missing teeth

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NUTRO MAX Wet Cat Food

Nutro Max Senior set food for sensitive gums

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  • Specifically, the cans with gravy that ​are best for an old cat with bad teeth are as follows​:
    Chicken Supreme, Duck, Lamb and Turkey, Salmon, Seafood and Tomato Bisque, Turkey and Chicken Liver, Venison.
  • The Nutro MAX Wet cat food is cat food in chunks in sauce or gravy.
​Look for the cans that​ are labelled
NUTRO MAX Wet Cat Food​​
  •  The chunks in gravy are preferred however if you do choose pate make sure that it is mashed up very well.
  • ​When reading the ingredients label it is much like reading the label for food for human consumption. The ingredients at the beginning of the list weigh the most so if grain products were near the top of the list for this food it would be a product to avoid for an old cat.
  • This is not an exact science. Chicken might be at the top of the list however moisture will also add to the weight. Without getting too technical, this is a handy reference guide when purchasing. If I don’t like the look of the first few ingredients of any product, I don’t buy.

    This cat food is made in the USA.

Cats And Gum Disease

Cats can get periodontal disease (gum disease) which can cause pain.

If you are unsure about this please take your cat to the vet as there are other oral diseases that can cause pain for cats. Plus your cat won’t show his pain.  

Keep an eye out for drooling, red gums or a lack of appetite.  

If your cat does have to have a tooth or teeth extracted it will be far better for the cat to be living without pain plus you know that he can still eat without teeth.

What Do Cat's Teeth Look Like?

Most owners do not really know what the inside of their cat’s mouth looks like.  

It is often not until the cat has teeth or gum related issues that we go to the vet for a check up and become acquainted with the teeth, that we find out what they are called and where they are. 

Maybe your cat is or has been a rat catcher and you have seen the results of  a rat execution.
It almost looks surgical in precision so those teeth are made for specific purposes.

This diagram shows the ​upper and lower position of cat teeth.

cats and bad teeth

​How Do Cats Use Their Teeth?

  • The canines are used for biting and shredding.
  • The incisors are used for tearing and to help hold prey​.
  • The premolars are used for chewing​.
  • The molars are also used for chewing and cutting through meat and bone.

​Our Food Recommendations For Older Cats With Bad Teeth

​Royal Canin

Royal Canin i​s ​the number one choice because not only is it specifically formulated for aging cats with poor teeth, it also has other nutrients for senior cats.  As our cats age it is often not one ailment like poor teeth, it is usually accompanied by joint problems or kidney problems or diabetes so often more than one factor needs to be considered.

Purina is a trusted and well known brand and one that I have used for many years. It is a cost effective option and comes in a good variety of flavors.  It is grain free.

The Hills Science Diet is one that veterinarians often recommend and is another trusted brand.  Hills have a variety of products.  The review ​above explains exactly which product is best for an old cat with bad teeth.

​​​​​​​​​Nutro Max provides an excellent product for our teeth challenged kitties. It is made in the USA and fortified with extra vitamins.

​You ​may find that costs associated with caring for your senior cat have risen as more specialized products are needed to keep him healthy, active and content.

It is comforting to know that even without teeth your cat can still eat comfortably and meet dietary requirements.

Tip: When giving your cat canned wet food, try adding a small amount of ground or minced beef or chicken. Even if the meat is not ground it can be sliced into thin slices and added to the canned food or used half and half.  This will provide an extra source of protein for your old cat. Their protein needs increase as they age.

Why Buy From Chewy?

There is no better recommendation than excellent customer service.  Peace of mind that any query will be dealt with straightaway is paramount.

Chewy has an outstanding ​track record for customer service and super fast delivery. The questions in Chewy's FAQ  are ones ​we all want to ask and that are helpful, for example:

How long does it take to get my order?
How much is shipping?
What do I do if I need to return something?
How does Chewy get authorization from my vet for prescription items?

Click here to read the FAQ from Chewy

best food for old cats with bad teeth