The 8 Best Foods for Older Cats in 2021

older cat

Cats don’t age physically at a fast rate like humans, but this doesn’t mean they always feel young on the inside.

Mature cat’s nutritional needs are entirely different from kittens and adolescents, hence the need to give them food specifically designed for older cats.

An optimal diet for older cats should be rich in animal-based based proteins, sufficient moisture, digestible ingredients, antioxidants, minerals, and moderate healthy fats.

The eight nutritious options that we’ve picked are, in our opinion, the best cat food for older cats available right now and will give them the nutritional needs required to lead healthy lives. 

To start with, here’s the options for the best cat food for older cats:

best cat food for older cats

Features to Look for in Quality Food for Older Cats

Vitamins and Minerals

Just like human beings, cats require essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins that they get from animal proteins for strong immunity, cognitive, visual, and mental health, and overall balanced health.

Vitamins and mineral absorption decrease as your cat grows older, and this may result in kidney and urinary tract challenges. Oral health is another cause of decreased appetite, which translates to low vitamin and mineral intake.


Antioxidants are naturally occurring nutrients found in animal tissue and plants, particularly fruits and vegetables. The most common antioxidants are vitamins C, E, and carotenoids. Typically, a combination of different antioxidants is more effective than a high dose of a single antioxidant. 

When cells outlive their usefulness, they die via a process called peroxidation. However, peroxidation may kill healthy cells when not regulated, and this is where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants stabilize the process, maintaining a balance.

Naturally, cats produce lower quantities of antioxidants as they age, which causes low immunity. Moreover, research shows that antioxidants help in slowing down the aging process, and that’s why an antioxidants-packed diet is vital for your pet’s growth.

Carbohydrates and Fat

Complex carbohydrates and fat are vital in older cats’ food because they require larger amounts of energy from their food. Cats should get most of their energy from protein and fat, but a small amount of carbs are necessary too. 

Research shows too many carbohydrates expose cats to cat obesity or diabetes mellitus. Cats generally have poor metabolism and digestion of carbohydrates, hence the need for fiber in the cat food.

However, cats can digest starch, and this is converted to energy that your cat needs for fuel. Additionally, this energy helps keep the cat warm and act as building blocks for minerals and nutrients needed by the cat.


The source and amount go hand in hand. The primary ingredient of any quality cat food should be animal-sourced protein. Being obligate carnivores, a cat’s digestive and metabolism systems are specifically designed for meat-based diets.

Animal proteins also contain essential amino acids like arginine and taurine. Cats get these amino acids by consuming animal tissue, and they’re vital for things like heart and visual health.

Additionally, animal-based proteins are an important source of certain vitamins that cats do not naturally produce. 

The AAFCO recommends a protein content of 30 percent for an optimal cat diet in dry food. When selecting the ideal food for your older cat, ensure that the protein content is sufficient and from high-quality sources.

Moisture Content

Cats require a lot of water for a healthy urinary tract. However, for some owners, it’s difficult to see your cat drinking water. For the right results, feed your cat on a wet diet or talk to your vet for the best approach. If your older cat drinks plenty, a dry meal plan is sufficient. 

The 8 Best Foods For Older Cats — To Help Them Thrive In Their Sunset Years

1. IAMS Proactive Health Adult Dry Cat Food—Best Overall

The Iams Proactive Health is a dry cat food that comes in small, crunchy pellets that reduce plaque build-up on your older cat’s teeth. This particular choice has been made with chicken meat as the primary ingredient and also contains chicken fat for energy.

The product is 100 percent balanced to create an optimal diet for older cats. Besides the high-quality animal-sourced proteins, the ingredients contain other important components. 

Antioxidants and vital minerals have been incorporated for healthy urinary and digestive tracts, a glossy coat, hairball control, and weight management. The fiber blend provides probiotics that promote easier absorption of nutrients.

If you’re looking for an easy dry food that keeps your feline healthy, happy, and beautiful, consider the Iams Proactive Health Adult Dry Cat Food.


  • Contains antioxidants and amino acids for proper growth.
  • Rich in animal-based proteins.
  • Digestive tract benefits.
  • Ideal for cats of all ages.
  • Helps reduce plaque build-up.


  • Low moisture content.
  • Bag design is difficult to pour from.

2. Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity Senior 7+—Best for Senior Cats

The Purina ONE cat food is a dry diet specifically designed for cats older than 7 years and recommended by veterinarians. Its ingredients are natural-based, and chicken meat is the primary ingredient.

This specially formulated cat food has over 36 percent protein to support strong lean muscle growth and a healthy heart. It’s easily digestible, making it ideal for older cats who have trouble with digestion. 

Additionally, the animal proteins and fat  as well as real carrots and peas used are rich in vitamins, fatty acids, vital minerals, and antioxidants that older cats require for healthy living.

This product is formulated with no fillers and makes sure each ingredient is beneficial to senior cats to provide strong immunity using antioxidants and a healthy digestive system. 


  • Aimed at senior cats.
  • Easily digested.
  • Boosts immune system and digestive health.
  • Natural-based.
  • Rich in proteins.


  • Low moisture content.
  • Some customers said that their cats became sick after eating the food.

3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein—Best High Protein

The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Cat Food is a protein-enriched diet ideal for adult and older cats. Its ingredients are natural-based and come in three flavors, including chicken, duck, and salmon.

The product has three packaging options to suit different customers’ needs and budgets. Animal proteins are the primary ingredients and make up 40 percent of the food to give your cat enough protein it requires to thrive.

The grain-free ingredients are further packed with minerals, antioxidants, and essential vitamins from meat, fruit, and vegetables for strong immunity and a healthy digestive tract.

For healthy skin and a shiny coat, the manufacturer has included amino acids in the product’s ingredients, as well as fiber to promote mineral absorption.


  • High fiber content.
  • Promotes skin health.
  • Grain-free.
  • Promotes strong immunity.
  • Different packaging sizes.


  • Not compatible with some cats
  • Unpleasant odor from the food.

4. Solid Gold – Five Oceans Holistic Grain—Best Food for All Life Stages

If you’re looking for a wet food that’s suitable for all life stages of your cat, Solid Gold is a perfect choice to consider. The recipe is formulated to provide your cat with a holistic diet in all growth stages, having a balanced nutritional value.

Solid Gold is a canned product that ensures high moisture content is maintained to give your cat healthy hydration. The product comes in five ocean-sourced flavors, including Blended Tuna, Sea beam & Tuna, Sardine & Tuna, Mackerel & Tuna, and Shrimp & Tuna.

Moreover, this natural-based cat food contains amino acids and vitamins to promote strong immunity, gut health, brain function, and overall wellness support for your older kitty. 

If you fancy an ocean-sourced gravy diet packed with minerals, vitamins, balanced fats, and amino acids for the thriving of your cat in all life stages, the Solid Gold is a perfect solution to consider. Some of the cans feature large chunks of tuna and fish, which senior cats struggle with, so you may need to chop these up before serving.


  • Grain and gluten-free.
  • High moisture content.
  • Comes in different flavors.
  • Tasty to most cats.
  • Rich in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins for a healthy gut and immune system.


  • Strong fish odor.
  • Large chunks may need to be cut for older cats.

5. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food—Best for Weight Management

If your older cat is getting a bit chubby, the Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food is ideal for weight management. 

A study by the manufacturer shows that 70 percent of cats on this diet lost weight within 10 weeks while still maintaining a balanced diet. Veterinarians, food scientists, technicians, and PhD nutritionists have developed this product, making it safe for your pet’s consumption.

The cat food will help your cat build lean muscle and maintain a recommended feline weight. The primary ingredient is chicken protein, which is a minimum of 40 percent. The vegetable content is also high enough to provide your cat with the required energy needed as they lose weight.

The Hill’s Science Diet is also packed with enough amino acids, vitamins, and essential minerals for a balanced diet and plenty of antioxidants to bolster the immune system.


  • Animal-sourced protein as the primary ingredient.
  • Promotes weight management.
  • Minerals and amino acids for balanced growth.
  • Recommended by veterinarians.


  • Not all cats enjoy it.
  • Large pellet size for some cats.

6. Wellness CORE Pate Wet Cat Food—Best Wet Diet

The Wellness CORE Pate is a wet food designed for healthy hydration. It comes in four flavors, including Beef, Venison & Lamb, and Chicken, Turkey & Chicken liver, and Whitefish, Salmon & Herring.

All the primary ingredients are animal-based, and the rest are natural-based, which make it safe for cat consumption. This nutrient-rich paste includes minerals and essential vitamins for lean body and muscle support, good energy levels, healthy skin, eyes and teeth, a glossy coat, and a healthy urinary tract.

The Wellness CORE Pate is designed with a variety of textures and flavors that cats love. They include cuts, shreds, flakes, morsels, chunky, gravies, and paste.

This grain-free cat food has been made with cranberries, vitamins, botanicals, and minerals for the general well-being of an older cat. Additionally, the diet has a high moisture content to keep your cat hydrated and prevent health issues.


  • High moisture content.
  • Rich in protein.
  • Natural-based.
  • Comes in several flavors.


  • Pricey.
  • Not the most enjoyable smell for humans.

7. Royal Canin Feline Care—Best Balanced Nutrition

The Royal Canin Feline Care Nutrition is suitable for your older cat’s health. First off, the high moisture content gives cats healthy hydration, and the nutrition range has been formulated for dull and sensitive skin, dental, hairball, weight, and digestive health.

The Royal Canin Feline Care Nutrition incorporates a combination of dry and wet food to benefit your feline. Soaked in gravy, the kibbles are ideal for older cats, coming in a suitable size, shape, texture, flavor, and aroma that cats crave.

Royal Canin Feline Care Nutrition uses animal-based proteins as the primary ingredients, but it also contains minerals, antioxidants, moderate fats, essential vitamins, and amino acids for optimal health.

Essentially, this product has a high concentration of dry matter that’s rich in nutrients and moisture. If you’re interested in a diet that provides benefits from both options, the Royal Canin Feline Care Nutrition should be a choice.


  • Dry and wet cat food benefits.
  • Rich in protein.
  • Rich in minerals and vitamins for balanced growth.
  • Natural-based.
  • Balanced nutrition.


  • Some cats refuse to eat it.
  • Some complained of stomach upsets.

8. 9Lives Dry Cat Food—Best for Value

The 9Lives Dry Cat Food is suitable for cat owners with a modest budget. However, that doesn’t mean that it lacks the essential features of quality cat food for older cats. 

To start us off, it comes in five versions, including Daily Essentials, Protein Plus, Indoor Complete, Lean and Tasty, and Plus Care. 

The ingredients in all five are natural-based and provide your cat with a balanced nutrient-rich diet for proper health maintenance of your cat.

The animal-sourced proteins of 33 percent facilitate lean muscle building, provision of vital vitamins and essential minerals. Additionally, the diet is enriched with antioxidants to support a strong and healthy immune system.

Even with a limited budget, 9Lives has something for everyone. Cheap doesn’t always translate to inferior products, as most people believe. In fact, with 9Lives cat food, you get several high-quality options to suit your cat’s needs.


  • Different versions for different cats.
  • Affordable.
  • Protein-enriched.
  • Rich in antioxidants for strong immunity.
  • Optimal nutrition for older cats.


  • Very dry.
  • Some cats dislike the food.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Avoid Overfeeding Older Cats?

Several factors, such as activity level, health condition, and whether your feline is an indoor or outdoor pet, should be considered when choosing the portion sizes for your older cat. Much like us humans, as cats age, they tend to put on weight more easily. 

Begin by choosing the best cat food for older cats, measuring portion sizes, and adjusting their needs. Naturally, outdoor cats are more active than indoor cats, requiring foods with a higher calorie content. Talk to your vet if you’re unsure about how much to feed your cat.

Wet Vs Dry Cat Food: Which Is Better?

Each of the two options has its benefits. Cats require lots of water to maintain a healthy urinary tract. The rule of thumb is to ensure your cats have access to sufficient water.

If the water isn’t easily accessible or your older cat doesn’t seem to drink enough, feed your cat on a wet diet, as it contains much more water to keep your cat hydrated.

Can Older Cats and Kittens Share the Same Food?

Mature cats and kittens have different nutrition requirements, but in some ways their food is quite similar. High protein and fat levels are included in food for older cats and kittens, so in this way, it’s fine to share the same food now and again. The only thing to be aware of is that kitten food has higher calories, so it’s not a good idea to give it to an older cat long-term. 


Older cats are not much different from kittens—both act like human babies. They depend on us for a balanced and nutritious diet that is vital for strong immunity and optimal health during the sunset years.

Therefore, you need to ensure that the diet is sufficient, both in quantity and nutrients.

When making a decision on the best cat food for older cats, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses versus the benefits they stand to gain from the desired cat food.

Additionally, avoid feeding older cats food meant for kittens, as their nutritional requirements vary. Equally important, not everything that your cat eats is safe for them, and should be kept out of their reach.

For the optimal general health of your feline, you can select any of the eight cat foods discussed above. Our favorite has to be the IAMS Proactive Health Adult Dry Cat Food, as it has a natural, balanced formula that’s great for older cats.

This article includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products we have discussed in this article, we may receive a small commission.

Olivia Davis

Olivia is the editor-in-chief at Cat Food Tip. She's in charge of making sure that every post is up to standards and contains accurate information that's comprehendable and fun for readers.

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