3 Best Cat Food for Older Cats with Bad Teeth

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What’s the best cat food for older cats with bad teeth?

Wet cat food in a pate or gravy texture.

Older cats have a harder time digesting food. High protein cat foods from animal products help with muscle loss.

Our 3 best cat food for older cats with bad teeth picks:

  1. Feline Natural – Best Overall
  2. Ziwi Peak – Picky Cats
  3. Fancy Feast Creamy Delights – Best Value

Older cats tend to lose weight after 12 years of age. Dental disease makes this harder on seniors to get the nutrition they need.

If not able to eat enough food, a senior cat will have a shorter lifespan and worse quality of life.

In this article I’ll help you with a buying guide to know what to look for. Then, I’ll run through my top choices and why I picked them.

Finally, I’ll go through frequently asked questions on the topic.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions. This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.

Let’s get into the article.

Buying Guide

So what’s best for older cats with bad teeth?

Wet canned pate and gravy foods are easier to chew and swallow.

Cat’s have pointed incisors designed to grab onto prey for consumption. Instead of chewing, older cats use their tongue to push food into the back of their mouth.

In other words, older cats don’t tend to chew much.

A pate or gravy textured cat food doesn’t need a lot of chewing, giving older cats relief from pain.

Senior cats tend to have other issues though. A cat is a senior at the age of 12 (about 60 in human years).

Senior cats tend to experience the following issues, among dental problems:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Weight loss
  • Arthritis

This means you want to make sure you’re picking cat food that addresses common health issues in older cats.

An older cat
Older cats are at higher risk of diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis and weight loss

What Ingredients Should I Look For?

To keep it simple, you want to feed an older cat a high protein and fat diet.

20% of senior cats over 12 years have impaired fat digestion and 30% have impaired protein digestion.

This is one reason for age related muscle loss (sarcopenia).

Research suggests aiming for over 40% protein on a dry matter basis to help senior cats maintain strength.

How do I know if my wet cat food meets these guidelines?

Use an online calculator to find the dry matter basis of cat food. Use the guaranteed analysis with the calculator.

Here’s an example below using the guaranteed analysis of Meat Mates on their website:

  • Protein: 7.5%
  • Fat: 7.5%
  • Carbohydrate: 0.3%
  • Fiber: 0.7%
  • Ash: 2.0%
  • Moisture: 82.0%

Since the calculator doesn’t have ash and carbohydrate, combine the two and put it into ‘others’. The values must equal 100%.

Based on the dry matter calculation, Meat Mates has 41.67% protein.

Dry matter calculator for cats
Use a dry matter calculator to find out if your cat food is best suited for an older cats needs.

Choose Foods High in Animal Protein

Animal protein is easier for senior cats to digest.

Thankfully, most wet cat foods are higher in animal protein than dry foods.

This is good because grain based ingredients reduce the digestibility of protein.

Grain based protein increases the risk of constipation and urinary tract disorders which isn’t good because senior cats have a higher risk of constipation.

What to look for?

Check the front label.

There are laws about what words mean.

Having animal foods as a first ingredient doesn’t always mean ‘high animal protein’.

Some brands divvy up ingredients to lower their ranking on the list (making them look more attractive).

Remember, cat’s are carnivores.

Cat’s eat meats, not sweets.

Learn More:


Aside from protein, you want to make sure an older cat gets enough calories.

Senior cats have impaired protein and fat digestion.

Cats prefer food with ~25% fat on a dry matter basis. Senior cats have reduced sense of smell and taste.

Aiming for over 25% fat will help boost the calorie density.

All this points to a moderate-high fat wet food helps improve taste and calorie density.

How do I know if my wet cat food meets these guidelines?

More specifically, you want to give your cat food with a calorie density of over 4.5 kcal/g.

This is math heavy and is probably not needed if you simply bump up the fat.

In case you want to go the extra mile, use the following calculation:

  1. Find the moisture content of the wet cat food on the label
  2. Use the calculation (1-[moisture content]) to find dry matter content
  3. Use the calculation (1/[dry matter content]) to find dry weight
  4. Find the caloric density (kcal/kg * dry weight/1000)


  1. Feline Natural feast chicken and lamb has 80.6% moisture content.
  2. 1-80.6% = 19.4% dry matter content
  3. 1/19.4% = 5.15 dry weight
  4. Feline Natural contains 895 kcal/kg. Use the equation – 895 * 5.15/1000 = 4.6 kcal/g

Based on this, Feline Natural has a caloric density of 4.6 kcal/g. A great choice!


Micronutrients are needed for health and metabolism.

Micronutrients include:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

There are at least 25 recognized micronutrients needed in the diet for health. These nutrients help with metabolism and structure.

An unbalanced diet can lead to micronutrient deficiencies.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines nutrient recommendations for pets.

Whilst there’s no guidelines for senior cats, it’s good to look for a food that meets the needs of all life stages. This is the most nutritious choice.

Of most importance for senior cats is the calcium to phosphate ratio.

A 1:1 ratio of calcium to phosphate helps reduces calcium deposits in the kidneys.

Over 31% of older cats over 15 years are at increased risk of kidney disease.

Look on the company website to find this info. Bear in mind, you won’t find this on most cat foods so keep that in mind in your decision making.

Here’s a summary of what you need for older cats with bad teeth:

  • Wet cat food
  • Pate or gravy texture
  • High protein (>40% dry matter)
  • High fat (>25% dry matter)
  • Complete meal for all life stages
  • Positive ratio of calcium to phosphate

3 Best Cat Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth

1. Feline Natural

Best Wet Cat Food for Older Cats With Bad Teeth

Feline Natural cat food (picture)
Feline Natural cat food

Pros and Cons

  • 98% grass-fed
  • Easy chew pate
  • Grain-free
  • Pricey
  • Mixed taste results


Feline Natural is a great all round choice for senior cats. It meets all our criteria above.

Aside from the high animal protein level, it has joint friendly nutrients including chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega 3 fatty acids.

There’s no added fillers like grains, gums, carrageenan, or legumes. So your older cat will get only what they need.

The main downsides here is the price and mixed taste results. Some older cats ‘set in their ways’ might not enjoy the exotic taste.

Best for:

  • Joint health
  • Senior cats
  • Diabetes

Where to find Feline Natural cat food?

Read more:

Feline Natural dry matter nutrition analysis
Feline Natural dry matter nutrition analysis
Feline Natural cat food review score
Feline Natural cat food review score

2. Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe

Best Wet Cat Food for Picky Older Cats

Ziwi Peak wet cat food
Ziwi Peak wet cat food

Pros and Cons

  • 92% grass-fed produce
  • Carrageenan-free
  • All life stages
  • Pricey
  • Mixed taste results


Ziwi Peak is another top tier choice for older cats, and may help sway fussy eaters.

It’s high in grass-fed animal protein and has a high calorie content.

Their foods are free from gums and carrageenan to help with sensitive stomachs.

The main downside with Ziwi Peak is the steep price. They also use chickpeas which raises the carbs to around 10% (dry matter).

Best for:

  • Senior cat health
  • Kidney health
  • Allergies

Where to find Ziwi Peak cat food?

Read more:

Ziwi Peak dry matter nutrition analysis
Ziwi Peak dry matter nutrition analysis
SCC Rating Cat Food 1 4
Ziwi Peak cat food review score

3. Fancy Feast Creamy Delights

Best Value Wet Cat Food for Older Cats With Bad Teeth

Fancy Feast cat food (picture)
Fancy Feast creamy delights

Pros and Cons

  • High protein
  • Fussy cat friendly
  • Low carb
  • Not pretty
  • Mixed quality


Of the big popular cat foods, Fancy Feast is the only one that holds up for older cats.

It’s very low in carbohydrate, and high in animal protein. This is what senior cats need to maintain strength.

The added milk contributes calcium, which is important for kidney health.

The main problem is the use of meat by-products. That leads to mixed quality from tin to tin.

Aside from that, Fancy Feast is a solid choice.

Best for:

  • Value for money
  • Picky eaters
  • Easy digestion

Where to find Fancy Feast Creamy Delights?

Read more:

Fancy Feast Creamy Delights dry matter nutrition
Fancy Feast Creamy Delights dry matter nutrition
Fancy Feast Creamy Delights cat food review score
Fancy Feast Creamy Delights cat food review score

How Did I Choose These Cat Foods?

Using my database of popular cat foods, I filtered out the best choices following the criteria for older cats with bad teeth.

These are:

  • Wet cat food
  • Pate or gravy texture
  • High protein (>40% dry matter)
  • High fat (>25% dry matter)
  • Complete meal for all life stages
  • Positive ratio of calcium to phosphate

I opted for foods I’ve tested with my cat testing team (with the exception of Instinct Original).

From the best picks I sorted them using our scoring system.

This score is based on

  • Trust
  • Ingredients
  • Nutrition
  • Cost
  • Taste

It’s designed to help you find the very best choice to meet your older cats needs.

If those options don’t tickle your fancy, here’s a table of cat foods for older cats with bad teeth to browse through.

Cat FoodTextureProtein*FatCa: PLifestagePriceNote
Hound & GatosPate46%39%2.3All$$Affordable choice (untested)
Meat MatesPate42%42%2.4All$$$Quality choice, but low availability
Feline NaturalPate52%36%1.3All$$$Best quality choice
Ziwi Peak VenisonPate54%25%1.6All$$$Quality choice for picky cats
Nulo FreestylePate51%33%1.5All$Good budget pick
Fancy Feast CreamyPate46%32%N/AAll$Best value
A comparison table of the best cat foods for older cats with bad teeth *dry matter basis

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Common Dental Problems in Older Cats?

Common dental problems in older cats include:

  • Plaque
  • Tartar
  • Gingivitis
  • Bacterial infection

As cats get older, their teeth start to accumulate plaque if not maintained with cleaning.

Cats clean their teeth by chewing bones and/or grass.

Over time, plaque leads to tartar and gingivitis. Tartar is hard calcified deposits that build up and harbor bacteria.

Some of the bacteria may enter the bloodstream from digestion, damaging internal organs.

Dental problems also cause pain when chewing food.

A cat chewing grass.
Dental problems are common in older cats. They may chew grass or bones to clean their teeth.

How Can I Check if My Older Cat Has Dental Problems?

Gently lift up around the cheeks. Check the teeth are clean and white without any bleeding around the gums.

Your cat shouldn’t have a foul stench to its breath.

If your cats’ breath has a foul odor, it is a sign of bacteria buildup, which is a problem.

Seek vet assistance if having trouble.

Checking a cats teeth for dental problems
Bleeding around the gums and foul stench are signs of dental problems

How Can I Keep My Older Cat’s Teeth Clean?

Older cats with tooth problems benefit from daily brushing.

You need to use a cat toothbrush and toothpaste.

This won’t work for all cats but is a great option if you are able to do it.

Experts suggest dry food to help with periodontitis as chewing helps remove plaque.

Cat’s also need calcium for strong teeth.

A homemade diet can worsen dental health if not supplemented with enough calcium.

Learn More:

Brushing a cats teeth
Yes, that hits the spot!


Older cats tend to lose muscle as they age. They are also at increased risk of kidney disease and diabetes.

Wet pate or gravy cat food is best for senior cats with bad teeth. It helps avoid the need for excess chewing. Brushing teeth also helps with dental care.

You’ll also want to make sure you choose cat food with the nutrients older cats need for health. A high protein and calorie diet is best.

Top picks:

  1. Feline Natural – Best Overall
  2. Ziwi Peak – Picky Cats
  3. Fancy Feast Creamy Delights – Best Value
Photo of author


I'm qualified dietitian that's turned their attention to cat nutrition. My goal is to help tease out the science on how best to feed your cat.