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6 Best Cat Foods for Senior Cats in 2024 – Vet-Approved Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

old black and white cat eating

6 Best Cat Foods for Senior Cats in 2024 – Vet-Approved Reviews & Top Picks

VET APPROVED

Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

old black and white cat eating

Senior cats often have special dietary needs, so they may need cat food just for them. As cats get older, they need diets that are very energy dense, highly digestible and with an increased proportion of protein calories when compared to diets intended for healthy adult cats. The aim of such a diet is to support optimal body weight in a senior cat.

There are many different choices of quality cat food on the market, but it can be overwhelming to decide which is best for your elderly kitty.

We’ve researched for you and created a list of reviews of the best cat food for older cats. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide that lists the important components of older cat food.

Ready to find the best cat food for senior cats? Then read on for our recommendations.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (Updated in 2024)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smalls Fresh Cat Food Smalls Fresh Cat Food
  • Vitamins and minerals support senior cats
  • 91% protein from turkey thighs
  • Low-fat recipe
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry
  • Made from non-GMO ingredients
  • Rich in omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Third place
    Royal Canin Wet Cat Food Royal Canin Wet Cat Food
  • Pork, chicken, and chicken liver in gravy
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Supports kidney health
  • Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Dry Cat Food Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Dry Cat Food
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains antioxidants, beta carotene & Vit E
  • Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Iams Proactive Health Dry Senior Cat Food Iams Proactive Health Dry Senior Cat Food
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains Vitamin E and antioxidants
  • The 6 Best Cat Foods for Senior Cats

    Please Note

    These options have been approved by a veterinarian because they include only cat-friendly ingredients and are nutritionally complete diets. However, these options are not selected by the veterinarian; the options in this article are presented by the author and should not be considered as medical advice. It is best to consult your veterinarian to help you decide what the best diet for your cat is.

    1. Smalls Fresh Other Bird Cat Food — Best Overall

    Smalls human grade fresh food bowl with kitten with logo

    Although the dietary requirements of a senior cat are somewhat similar to those of an adult cat, seniors require meals that are lower in fat and higher in protein. Smalls Fresh Other Bird is a human-grade meal that uses turkey as its primary source of protein, and it’s our choice for the best overall cat food for senior cats.

    Turkey and turkey liver are the primary ingredients in this food. With a crude fat content of 10% (minimum), Fresh Other Bird has the lowest fat of any Smalls fresh meals. The recipe is enhanced by a supplementary vitamin and mineral mixture that supports aging joints and muscles.

    Pros
    • Low-fat recipe
    • 72% moisture content
    • AAFCO certified for all life stages (including seniors)
    • Vitamins and minerals support senior cats
    Cons
    • Might not be readily acceptable by cats that are used to kibbles

    2. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Senior Cat Food — Budget Buy

    Nutro 10204058 Wholesome Essentials Dry Cat Food

    The Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Cat Food is the best cat food for older cats for the money because it’s made with high-quality ingredients. The food is non-GMO, and it contains no corn, wheat, or soy protein. The food also has no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. It’s rich in omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coats.

    Some cats refuse to eat this food, and the inclusion of brown rice might not be acceptable for some pet owners.

    Pros
    • Made from non-GMO ingredients
    • Chicken is the number-one ingredient
    • No corn, wheat, or soy protein
    • No artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors
    • Contains omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
    Cons
    • Some cats may not eat this formula
    • Brown rice is not viewed favorably by some pet owners

    3. Royal Canin Wet Cat Food

    Royal Canin Wet Cat Food

    Royal Canin Wet Cat Food is ideal for older kitties struggling with dental issues. It has pork, chicken, and chicken liver slices in gravy that are easy to chew. The food contains omega-3 fatty acids to help maintain healthy joints. It also has specially controlled phosphorus levels to support your older cat’s kidney health. The food is made with high-quality proteins to support healthy digestion.

    This food is expensive, especially since the can sizes are small. Some cats refuse to eat this food.

    Pros
    • Pork, chicken, and chicken liver slices in gravy
    • Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain healthy joints
    • Supports kidney health with controlled phosphorus levels
    • High-quality proteins support healthy digestion
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Some cats refuse to eat this formula

    4. Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Dry Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Dry Cat Food new

    Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Dry Cat Food contains antioxidants and additional vitamins to provide your older cat with additional nutrients. The food also has prebiotic fiber from chicory root to aid in digestion. Chicken is the first ingredient to provide your older cat with the protein they need to stay healthy. It also has omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coats.

    This food may reportedly cause digestive problems in some sensitive cats.

    Pros
    • Chicken is the first ingredient
    • Contains antioxidants, beta carotene, and Vitamin E
    • Prebiotic fiber from chicory root
    • Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
    Cons
    • May cause digestive distress in some pets

    5. Iams Proactive Health Dry Senior Cat Food

    Iams 10133666 Proactive Health Dry Cat Food

    Iams Proactive Health Dry Cat Food has chicken as the first ingredient to give your senior cat the high-protein diet they need. It also has supplemented antioxidants to support your older cat’s immune system. The food also has L-carnitine to help senior cats maintain a healthy weight, which can be a struggle as your cat gets older. This food is also free from fillers to give your cat high-quality nutrition.

    This food has caused digestive upset, especially constipation, in some cats. Some cats also refuse to eat this food.

    Pros
    • Real chicken is the first ingredient
    • Contains antioxidants to enhance the immune response of older cats
    • L-carnitine helps senior cats maintain a healthy weight
    • Free from fillers
    Cons
    • Some cats refuse to eat it
    • Can cause digestive problems in some cats

    6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Mature Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Mature Dry Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Mature Dry Cat Food has deboned chicken, chicken meal, and fish meal to give your older cat the high-quality protein it needs to stay healthy. This food contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coats. It also has natural fiber to aid in your older cat’s digestion. Since older cats may have compromised digestive absorption, it contains essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

    This food may cause digestive problems in some cats. In addition, some cats sometimes refuse to eat this food.

    Pros
    • High-quality protein from deboned chicken, chicken meal, and fish meal
    • Contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
    • Contains natural fiber for digestive health
    • Contains essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
    Cons
    • May cause digestive problems
    • Some cats may refuse to eat this formula

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Cat Food for Senior Cats

    Older cats have special dietary needs to be taken into consideration when shopping for high-quality cat food.

    Elderly cats experience an increase in their maintenance energy requirements rather than a continued decline. In other words, they require more energy than adults do. This is thought to be in part because, as they age, they become less efficient at fat digestion and therefore, require more protein in their diet (which in turn means they need a very nutritionally dense, highly digestible food).

    Protein is even more important because in cats, seniority is associated with a progressive loss of lean body mass, also known as muscle wasting.

    Therefore, diets designed for healthy elderly cats should be:

    What To Look For In a Senior Cat’s Diet
    • The food should be energy-dense (a small portion should be high in calories)
    • The food should be highly digestible (to ensure your cat can utilize it well)
    • The food should have a higher protein-to-fat ratio when compared to food for adult cats

    There is also strong evidence that dietary adjustment in senior cats may be able to modify aspects of the aging process itself. Therefore, ensuring your pet eats the correct food is more than just fulfilling their basic needs, it can play a crucial role in their overall longevity.

    It is important to note that the guidelines for senior pet food only apply to healthy senior cats. If your cat has a medical condition, they should only be eating a diet that your veterinarian recommends for them.

    middle age man holding cute ginger cat on small cozy balcony
    Image Credit: Anna Nahabed, Shutterstock

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    Conclusion

    Our best overall choice is Smalls Fresh Other Bird Cat Food because it is made of human-grade ingredients that support your cat’s overall health throughout their senior years. High-quality protein is also the first ingredient.

    Our best value choice is the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Cat Food because it’s made specifically for older cats with no artificial ingredients. Chicken is the first ingredient to give your senior cat the protein they need. It also is non-GMO and contains no corn, wheat, or soy protein.


    Featured Image Credit: Elizabett, Shutterstock

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