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3 Best Cat Food for Older Cats with Bad Teeth

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

As cats get older they have a harder time digesting food and tend to lose weight. Cats with dental problems have more problems as they have a harder time chewing large objects.

If not given the right quality food, a senior cat will have a shorter lifespan and worse quality of life.

In this article, I’ll help you find the best cat food to keep your senior strong and healthy, even with dental problems.

Best cat food for older cats with bad teeth

The goal of this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions.

The advice in this article is not intended as medical advice.

Let’s get into the article.

Buying Guide

In this buying guide, I’ll help you with everything you want to look for in your senior cat food.

Cats are elderly at 11 years of age. This is about 60 in human years.

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

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Weight loss
  • Arthritis

Let’s find the right foods for your older cat.

A senior cat.

What type of cat food is best for an older cat with bad teeth?

Wet canned cat food. This type of food is easier to chew and swallow.

Cat’s have sharply 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, cats don’t tend to chew much.

This makes wet food an ideal choice. A pate texture doesn’t require a lot of chewing, giving your senior cat relief from pain.

Choose a pate texture over shreds, gravy, and/or mined wet canned cat food.

Bottom Line: Wet canned cat food is the best cat food for an older cat with bad teeth.

A cat in a box.

What Ingredients Should I Look For In Cat Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth?

Senior cats with bad teeth benefit from wet canned pate foods high in animal protein and fat. This is easier to digest and helps with age related muscle loss. These food also help with kidney health.

Let’s take a closer look at ingredients to check for:

Protein

Senior cats need a high protein diet to maintain strength.

Older cats tend to experience sarcopenia, which is a loss of muscle mass associated with aging. The side-effects of sarcopenia include:

  • Reduced mobility
  • Inability to groom (can’t stay clean)
  • Low quality of life
  • Increased mortality risk

Look for cat food with a minimum of 40% protein on a dry matter basis. This helps senior cats maintain strength.

Whole animal foods are the best source of protein for senior cats and the easiest to digest.

AAFCO recommend a product with at least 19% animal protein foods. Plant protein (e.g. corn gluten meal) may increase the risk of constipation and contain less essential amino acids.

Bottom Line: Look for wet canned cat food with a minimum of 40% protein on a dry matter basis for strength.

A senior cat.

Calories

Older cats tend to need a high-calorie diet to combat age related weight loss.

Senior cats tend to lose weight as they age due to declining fat and protein digestion. This reduces their strength and ability to stay active. Having dental issues may decrease food intake.

Experts recommend choosing food with 4-4.5 kcal/g dry matter for healthy weight gain.

Not all senior cats need a high-calorie diet. Obese cats need a calorie-controlled diet to help with weight loss. To find out whether your older cat needs to gain or lose weight, check their body condition score chart.

Learn more: How Much Should I Feed My Cat?

Bottom Line: Many older cats struggle with weight loss with age. A high-calorie food (4-4.5 kcal/g dry matter) helps to maintain strength and mobility.

Fat

Fat is high in calories to help senior cats maintain weight. It’s helpful to choose a higher fat wet food if your senior cat with bad teeth is struggling to eat as much.

This macronutrient also helps with the following:

  • Improving the taste of food (for picky cats)
  • Fat soluble vitamin absorption
  • Providing essential fatty acids

Senior cats have reduced fat digestion, which is why it’s important to keep their fat intake high.

When given a choice, cats enjoy foods with a moderate amount of fat (25-40% on a dry matter basis). For fussy eaters, a moderate-fat diet helps encourage food intake.

Obese cats may need a lower fat choice to control calories.

Learn more: How To Dechonk Your Cat

Bottom Line: A moderate-fat diet (25-40% on a dry matter basis) is best for senior cats to help with weight control and fussy eating.

A senior cat.

Moisture

A high moisture food helps soften foods for easy chewing. As it is, senior cats don’t tend to drink enough water, which causes kidney stones.

Most wet canned foods are great choices to increase moisture.

Wet cat food is 70-85% moisture and is the best choice for hydration and chewing. Dry food only contains 10-15% moisture, creating a hard texture.

If using dry cat food, add water before serving to soften the food. This makes it easier to chew.

Bottom Line: Wet canned foods are the best choice for easy chewing and kidney health. Add water to food to soften dry foods.

A cat eating.

Micronutreints

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 provide a wide array of functions ranging from metabolism to structure.

An unbalanced diet may lead to deficiencies of micronutrients.

Senior cats benefit from a diet high in calcium to maintain strong teeth. Food with high calcium to phosphate ratios also benefit kidney health.

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

Many pet food manufacturers follow the AAFCO nutrient guidelines. “AAFCO approved for all life stages” is a label used to recognize nutritional adequacy.

Bottom Line: Look for the AAFCO nutritional sign of adequacy on the label of pet food. This indicates that your cat’s food is a balanced food source for health.

A senior cat.

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.

Bottom Line: Plaque, tartar, and gingivitis are common dental problems in older cats.

An older cat.

How Can I Check If My Senior Cat Has Dental Problems?

Look at your older cat’s mouth regularly by gently lifting up around the cheeks. The teeth should be 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.

If you are having trouble checking your senior cat’s teeth, then ask for assistance from a vet.

Bottom Line: Check for bleeding around the gums and foul stench as signs of dental problems.

Inspecting a cat's teeth for dental problems.

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

Many people don’t know this, but you can brush your cats teeth with products designed for cats. This is the best way to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy.

Diet can also help with teeth, but it’s unclear what works best. Dry food may help clear plaque with the mechanical action of chewing. Cat food should contain enough vitamin D and calcium to maintain teeth strength.

Let’s take a closer look at both approaches:

Diet

Wet canned animal-based foods are best for a cat’s teeth, but dry food may help remove plaque.

Some experts suggest that dry food helps reduce periodontitis because chewing acts to remove plaque. If your cat doesn’t have missing teeth or painful chewing, good quality dry food in small amounts helps maintain cleanliness.

Cat’s also need enough calcium to maintain strong teeth. A homemade diet may worsen dental health, but this may be from diets not supplemented with enough calcium.

Learn more: 9 Tips To Feed Your Cat

Bottom Line: Wet canned animal-based foods are best for a cat’s teeth.

Brushing

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.

Bottom Line: Daily teeth brushing with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste help maintain clean teeth.

Brushing an older cat's teeth.

Can I Use Dry Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth?

Yes, you can feed a senior cat with bad teeth dry food. However, it’s best practice to soften the food with water before serving.

Speak with your vet for more advice.

Bottom Line: You can soften dry cat food with water to make it easier to chew.

A senior cat eating dry food.

Best Cat Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth: Top Picks

BEST OVERALL

Feline Natural Variety Box Cat Food

Easy to chew pate texture to give relief to older cats with bad teeth. Higher in fat and protein to help maintain weight. Great for healthy kidneys.

Key Features

  • AAFCO approved for all life stages
  • 43.8% protein on a dry matter basis
  • 0.5% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis
  • >1:1 calcium to phosphate ratio for kidney health
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free

BEST PREMIUM

Ziwi Peak East Cape Wet Cat Food

Easy to chew pate wet food for older cats with bad teeth. High in nutrient rich animal foods and fat to maintain strength. High calcium to phosphate ratio for bone and kidney health.

Key Features

  • AAFCO approved for all life stages
  • 44.6% protein on a dry matter basis
  • 1.8% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis
  • >1:1 calcium to phosphate ratio (1.4) for kidney health
  • 5.3kcal/g on a dry matter basis for senior muscle maintenance
  • Soy-free

BEST AFFORDABLE

Nulo Grain Free Canned Wet Cat Food

Easy to chew pate wet food for older cats with bad teeth. High protein option with animal based foods to help picky cats. Helps with food intolerances and allergies.

Key Features

  • AAFCO approved for all life stages
  • 54.5% protein on a dry matter basis
  • 5.7% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis
  • >1:1 calcium to phosphate ratio for kidney health
  • Gluten-free
  • Soy-free

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve looked at the best cat food for older cats with bad teeth.

As cats age, they tend to lose muscle and strength. This is due to having less ability to digest protein and fat. They also suffer problems such as kidney disease, diabetes, and dental health problems.

Wet canned cat food in a pate texture is the best choice for older cats with bad teeth. This allows your older cat to swallow the food without needing to chew. A food that is high in protein, fat, and moisture also benefits a senior cat.

Brushing your cat’s teeth daily also helps to maintain clean teeth. Inspect your older cat’s mouth for teeth problems and report to a vet if you notice blood, swelling, or foul stench.

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