As your cat gets older, her nutritional habits and needs change. She may start to eat more, want different things, or drink more (or less) water. An elderly feline requires different ingredients to take care of her aging body than a kitten or middle-aged cat. In this article we go through the most important things to look for when selecting the best cat food for older cats.

We will review the following five senior cat foods and see how they measure up.

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A Quick Look At Our Favorites

ProductRatingWhy We Like It
1Blue Buffalo Wilderness For Mature CatsHigh Calorie & Allergen FreeBuy on Amazon
2Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+For Sensitive StomachsBuy on Amazon
3Fancy Feast Senior 7+High FiberBuy on Amazon
4Nutro Perfect PortionsLow In CarbsBuy on Amazon
5IAMS Perfect PortionsFor Picky EatersBuy on Amazon
MoistureProtein* (min.)Fat* (min.)Fiber* (max.)Carbs* (approx.)Ash* (approx.)Calories (approx.)Allergens
178%45%36%7%11%0%112 / 100gnone
278%45%27%7%5%16%90 / 100gseafood
378%50%23%7%6%15%85 / 100gseafood
478%55%23%5%2%16%86 / 100gseafood
578%43%23%5%14%16%86 / 100gseafood
What We LikeWhat We Don't Like
1
  • Higher than average fat content
  • High in fiber
  • Higher than average calorie count
  • Grain-free
  • No allergens
  • Contains carrageenan
2
  • Quality sources of protein
  • Higher than average fat content
  • High in fiber
  • Grain-free
  • Contains meat by-products
  • Not suitable for cats with seafood allergies
3
  • High protein content
  • High in fiber
  • Contains meat by-products
  • Not suitable for cats with seafood allergies
4
  • Quality protein sources
  • High protein content
  • Low on carbohydrates
  • Grain-free
  • Wide variety of flavors
  • Not suitable for cats with seafood allergies
  • Plastic packaging is difficult to open
5
  • Quality protein sources
  • Grain-free
  • Wide variety of flavors
  • High on carbohydrates
  • Not suitable for cats with seafood allergies
  • Plastic packaging

Our Choices For Best Cat Food For Older Cats

We’ve researched and reviewed the most popular cat foods for senior cats that are available today, so you can make a healthy choice for your older kitty.

If you want to review more choices of cat food for older cats, or a full nutritional analysis of 1000+ popular cat foods, please check out our Cat Food Database.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Always be careful when introducing your cat to a new food. The change in nutritional composition can cause digestive upset or allergic reactions, so it is best to take it slowly. Give her only a bit of the food at first, combined with her old food, and monitor how well your cat does on it. If you see any signs of an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, rashes, elevated heart rate, diarrhea, vomiting) switch back to her old food and contact your vet immediately.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free Paté

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Chicken Paté is a high quality cat food containing 100% real chicken. The high fiber content makes it easy to digest. There are no meat by-products or fish in this paté, so cats with allergies can feast on it too. The fat content and calorie count are higher than average. This makes it a great choice for older cats who struggle to maintain their weight.

This high calorie cat food does contain carrageenan, which is a an ingredient surrounded by controversy. Some studies suggest that carrageenan could cause inflammation of the bowel and lead to cancer. However, the carrageenan that is used in cat food is much more stable than the degraded form that is used in the studies. There is, as of yet, no real reason to avoid it. Unless your cat already has colon issues and you want to be extra careful.

Nutrients
Moisture78%
Protein*min. 45%
Fat*min. 36%
Fiber*max. 7%
Carbs*approx. 11%
Ash*approx. 0%
Caloriesapprox. 112 / 100g
Allergensnone
* on a dry matter basis
What We Like
  • Higher than average fat content
  • High in fiber
  • Higher than average calorie count
  • Grain-free
  • No allergens
What We Don't Like
  • Contains carrageenan

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ was especially designed to meet the nutritional needs of senior cats. It contains a healthy amount of protein from chicken, beef, and salmon. Beware of the salmon! The packaging doesn’t clearly state that this product contains fish, but it does. Some cats are allergic to seafood, so they should definitely avoid this paté.

That said, cats with sensitive tummies seem to respond well to this food. This is probably because of the high fiber content or the lack of grain. Both contribute to a high digestibility and a healthy GI tract. The slight increase in fat content will make sure your feline gets her calories and helps her stay in shape.

Check out a full nutritional analysis of Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ in our Cat Food Database.

Nutrients
Moisture78%
Protein*min. 45%
Fat*min. 27%
Fiber*max. 7%
Carbs*approx. 5%
Ash*approx. 16%
Caloriesapprox. 90 / 100g
Allergensseafood
* on a dry matter basis
What We Like
  • Quality sources of protein
  • Higher than average fat content
  • High in fiber
  • Grain-free
What We Don't Like
  • Contains meat by-products
  • Not suitable for cats with seafood allergies

Purina Fancy Feast Classic Paté Senior 7+

Purina Fancy Feast Senior 7+ was also specifically designed for more mature cats. Its protein content is higher than average, which is exactly what your senior kitty needs. The fiber content is also increased to make it more digestible. It comes in two delicious flavors, so picky eaters can have a little variety.

On the other hand, Purina Fancy Feast Senior 7+ does list both meat by-products and fish as part of its main ingredients. Unless specified by type (liver, kidneys, etc.), meat by-products can include basically any edible part of the animal that the manufacturer wants. You are never completely sure what you are feeding your cat, which can be concerning to some. And the fish, which again is not mentioned clearly on the label, can be detrimental to cats with seafood allergies.

There is also a minced meat version of this product, but I do not recommend you get this for your elderly cat. It contains filler ingredients like grains and soy, which are hard to digest and can put cats at risk for diabetes.

You can find a full nutritional review of Fancy Feast Senior 7+ Paté in our Cat Food Database.

Nutrients
Moisture78%
Protein*min. 50%
Fat*min. 23%
Fiber*max. 7%
Carbs*approx. 6%
Ash*approx. 15%
Caloriesapprox. 85 / 100g
Allergensseafood
* on a dry matter basis
What We Like
  • High protein content
  • High in fiber
What We Don't Like
  • Contains meat by-products
  • Not suitable for cats with seafood allergies

Nutro Perfect Portions Grain Free Natural Paté

Nutro Perfect Portions Grain Free Natural Paté contains a higher than average amount of protein. All from quality sources like chicken and chicken liver. The carb count is significantly lower than most commercial cat food, which I really like. Your cat will get all the energy she needs, while minimizing the risk of diabetes and GI tract issues.

This quality paté comes in a whole range of flavors. If your feline is as fussy and wants something different every day, Nutro Perfect Portions gives you that option. Switching brands regularly may cause your kitty’s stomach to get upset. This is a great way to avoid that.

Just as the name says, Nutro Perfect Portions come packaged per portion. Though convenient, this does result in some extra (plastic) packaging. If you are concerned about the environment, this might not be the product for you. Also, some cat owners find it difficult to open the packaging.

Like many cat foods, this meat-flavored food also contains some hidden seafood in the form of fish oil. Unfortunately, that makes it a no go if your cat has seafood allergies.

Check out our Cat Food Database for a full nutritional analysis of Nutro Perfect Portions Paté.

Nutrients
Moisture78%
Protein*min. 55%
Fat*min. 23%
Fiber*max. 5%
Carbs*approx. 2%
Ash*approx. 16%
Caloriesapprox. 86 / 100g
Allergensseafood
* on a dry matter basis
What We Like
  • Quality protein sources
  • High protein content
  • Low on carbohydrates
  • Grain-free
  • Wide variety of flavors
What We Don't Like
  • Not suitable for cats with seafood allergies
  • Plastic packaging is difficult to open

IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Paté

IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Paté is made from high quality protein and does not contain any grains. It has a sufficient amount of fibers and fats, so your cat can keep up her health.

The thing that bothers me a bit about this food is that it contains guar gum, which is listed as the fifth ingredient. The first five ingredients are the main ingredients. A bit of guar gum is fine, but this might be a bit too much.

IAMS Perfect Portions come in handy portion packages, same as Nutro Perfect Portions. However, these packages seem to be a bit easier to open. They also come in a multitude of flavors, so that’s a plus for picky eaters. However, again, there is fish oil in this one. So don’t feed this to allergic kitties.

You can check out a full review of IAMS Perfect Portions Healthy Adult Paté in our Cat Food Database.

Nutrients
Moisture78%
Protein*min. 43%
Fat*min. 23%
Fiber*max. 5%
Carbs*approx. 14%
Ash*approx. 16%
Caloriesapprox. 86 / 100g
Allergensseafood
* on a dry matter basis
What We Like
  • Quality protein sources
  • Grain-free
  • Wide variety of flavors
What We Don't Like
  • High on carbohydrates
  • Not suitable for cats with seafood allergies
  • Plastic packaging

Our Choice: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free Paté

Picking the right food for your cat can be a difficult task. In most cases it is a give and take, trading one undesired ingredient for another. With this in mind, we feel that one product really stands out. Our choice for a senior cat food is, hands down, Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free Paté. It has all the nutrients your older kitty needs from quality sources. And no allergens! That’s a real treat after finding all those sneaky fish among the chickens.


Feeding Older Cats

Cats are considered seniors from around the age of 11. When your cat reaches this age, her metabolism increases and she will need more energy from her food. That does not just mean more food, but also better food.

This aging process will not happen overnight, of course. It is important to keep a close eye on your senior cat’s behavior and monitor any changes. A change in her eating, grooming, or litter box habits may be a sign that it’s time to switch up her diet.

If you do notice any sudden changes in your cat’s eating habits or her body weight, it might be more than just her aging. Please take her to a vet if this happens, because she might be suffering from an illness, such as hyperthyroidism.

More Dietary Fiber

If your cat is suffering from either constipation or loose, bloody stool, it could be a sign that she needs more fiber. Good fibers help to keep the digestive tract healthy and prevent gastro-intestinal (GI) illnesses such as irritable bowel disease and pancreatitis. It also helps your cat to maintain a healthy weight by decreasing the amount of calories in her meal. This in turn lowers the risk of diabetes.

On the other hand, too much fiber decreases the digestibility of the food. If your cat can’t properly digest her meal, she won’t get the energy she needs. In general, you want to look for a soft cat food with a maximum raw fiber content of 10%. One thing to note here is the difference between dietary fiber and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fibers are not broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream, so these do nothing for your cat. Always look for dietary fiber.

More Moisture

Cats aren’t the thirstiest of creatures to begin with, and senior kitties need even more encouragement to drink enough water. Dehydration is a real concern with elderly cats and can lead to urinary tract issues like bladder stones and chronic kidney disease. A lack of moisture can also lead to constipation, especially in older or long-haired cats.

Cat drinking out of a bowl

You should pay attention to your older feline’s water intake – and release. If you notice a sudden, significant increase or decrease in your cat’s urination, please take them to the vet immediately. It could be a sign of an underlying condition, such as diabetes or kidney disease.

A good senior cat food contains more moisture to offset your kitty’s unwillingness to drink. If your cat is already suffering from kidney problems, look for a food that is also low in sodium. This will help her to release all that water and, with it, the toxins from her body.

BONUS TIP

Help your senior kitty with a pet drinking fountain! The fresh, flowing water will encourage her to drink more and keep her kidneys healthy. A water fountain with a higher bowl is also less straining on an elderly cat’s neck.

My favorite drinking fountain is the Cat Mate Pet Fountain. It has 3 levels, suitable for kitties of all sizes. It is quiet, easy to clean and my cat loves it! Having this pet fountain has kept her hydrated, and off the sink.

Check out my review of the Cat Mate Pet Fountain.

Animal Protein

Protein is an essential part of any cat’s diet. It contains amino acids that are necessary to maintain strength and good health. Plant proteins are used in some cat foods, but these are more difficult to digest. For older cats we want to do everything we can to increase digestibility, so that means: no plant proteins. Sorry, vegans.

Only feed your elderly cat high-quality animal proteins, such as chicken or fish. And make sure it is the main component of their meal. This means it should be mentioned as the first ingredient on the cat food label.

Fats and Fatty Acids

Older cats with an increased metabolism run the risk of losing too much weight. You can tell whether your cat is underweight by petting her on her back. If you can feel her individual ribs, then she is not getting enough food. Time to fatten her up!

Fats contain more than twice the amount of energy compared to proteins. Plus, they contain fatty acids such as omega-3, which supports the nervous system, and omega-6, which is good for the kidneys. So definitely look for a senior cat food with a slightly higher fat content.

Be careful not to overdo it, though. Obesity in cats can lead to arthritis, diabetes and even heart failure. A healthy balance of protein and fats is what is best for your cat.

Grain-Free

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not all cats, not just the elderly, should be fed a grain-free diet. It makes sense, because cats in the wild don’t eat grains and they are usually only added to commercial cat food as a filler ingredient. Whether or not you go the grain-free route is up to you.

Just remember, if you take those grains out, you have to replace them with something else. Preferably a lean animal protein, like poultry. This way your cat can still get the calories she needs, without eating too much fat.

Soft, Wet Food

Elderly cats can develop dental issues. It is important that you check their gums from time to time by gently lifting up their lip. Make sure the gums have a healthy, pink color and that there is no build-up of plaque. If you see any irregularities around your cat’s teeth, please see a vet.

You can help your furry friend by feeding her canned wet food instead of dry kibble. The soft texture is easier for older cats to eat and can actually help to prevent dental issues. Plus, the added moisture and higher fat content will help to keep her GI tract and kidneys healthy, while maintaining a good weight.