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3 Best Cat Food for Older Cats with Bad Teeth

In this article, I am going to review the best cat food for older cats with bad teeth. Older cats with bad teeth benefit from a high protein soft wet food that is easy to digest and nourishing.

I chose the ZIWI Peak Provenance Canned Wet Cat Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain-Free as the stand-out choice for older cats with bad teeth.

ZIWI cat food is high in protein from authentic animal-based foods. Cats with bad teeth will benefit from the soft texture and easy-to-digest food source. The downside of this product is the higher cost.

Cat’s are obligate carnivores in the wild. This means they tend to hunt and consume small prey like mice, birds, and fish. This forms the majority of their nutrition and their physiology is adapted to these types of foods (e.g. strong vertically moving jaw for clamping down on prey, short digestive tract to digest animal-based foods).

As cats age, they lose lean muscle mass and have difficulty digesting fats. This means they benefit from a higher quality animal-based food source which is protein and nutrient-dense.

Cats with bad teeth struggle to consume dry cat food. With teeth problems such as periodontitis, gingivitis, and missing teeth cats experience pain and discomfort having to try to chew larger objects. Wet cat foods are easy to swallow and require minimal effort. This helps cats have an easier time with their food.

My name is Derrick and I am a writer for Simply Cat Care. This website provides easy-to-read helpful guides for your cat. I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet before making a purchase.

Let’s take a closer look at the 3 best cat foods for older cats with bad teeth.

Top 3 Best Cat Foods for Older Cats with Bad Teeth

1 – ZIWI Peak Provenance Canned Wet Cat Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain-Free

Pros
  • Easy to swallow soft wet formula
  • High-quality animal protein to maintain muscle
  • High in chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega 3 essential fatty acids for joints
  • Grain-free cat food for digestion
Cons
  • Expensive, however, may reduce cat food needs due to higher nutritional quality
  • Strong smell
SUMMARY

The ZIWI Peak Provenance Canned Wet Cat Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain-Free products are a great option for senior cats with bad teeth.

Let’s talk about the basics. Firstly, the high-quality protein from whole animal-based foods. ZIWI doesn’t rely on cheap rendered meats and by-products. There is a variety of high-quality sources to give your cat balanced nutrition, such as goat liver, lungs, heart, and kidney.

Green mussels are a great source of nutrition for senior cats. They are high in glucosamine which is perfect to keep your older cat’s joints feeling smooth and flexible. Mussels are also high in omega 3 essential fatty acids which help maintain the immune system to keep your cat healthy.

Senior cats need a higher protein diet and have issues with digestion. ZIWI is grain-free and very low in carbohydrates. This is the perfect canned wet cat food nutritional profile to keep senior cats strong.

Cats with teeth problems benefit from a soft moist diet. The high moisture content from broth gives older cats with teeth issues an easy time with swallowing their food without pain or difficulty.

Due to the range of meats and fish used in the product, it does produce a smell that is unpleasant for owners. The price range is also steeper than typical food for cats.

With the downsides in mind, the product stands up as a solid choice for senior cats with dental issues.

SPECIFICATIONS

Flavor: East Cape (lamb and mutton)

Food Type: Wet canned food

Product weight: 3 oz (case of 24)

Manufacturer: ZIWI

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS
  • Crude Protein (min) 10.5%
  • Crude Fat (min) 8.5%
  • Crude Fiber (max) 1.5%
  • Moisture (max) 78%
  • Ash (max) 4.0%
  • CALORIE CONTENT: 1,500 kcal ME/kg
INGREDIENTS

Mutton, Lamb Broth, Goat, Whole Kahawai, Goat Tripe, Whole White Trevally, Mutton Tripe, Mutton Lung, New Zealand Green Mussel, Lamb Plasma, Whole Mackerel, Goat Liver, Lamb Bone, Mutton Liver, Lecithin, Goat Heart, Mutton Bone, Goat Lung, Goat Kidney, Minerals (Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex), DL-Methionine, Goat Bone, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Dried Kelp, Taurine

2 – Purina ONE High Protein, Natural Wet Cat Food

Pros
  • High in animal protein for strength
  • Grain-free for digestion and tolerability
  • No added vegetables
  • Low carbohydrate
  • Wet canned food to help cats with dental issues
  • Small portions for convenience
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Quality control issues
  • Inconsistent formula
SUMMARY

Purina ONE High Protein, Natural Wet Cat Food is a great budget option.

Whilst the product is affordable, it is not low-quality. Containing a high amount of animal protein it is the perfect carnivore-friendly choice that senior cats thrive on.

Cats with no teeth benefit from moist canned foods. They are easy to swallow and digest without much chewing. The cans come in small-sized 3 oz portions to give your senior cat an easier time with getting in their food without fatigue.

Sometimes the formula has changed in this product. This is an inevitable problem with many cat foods on the market. If the quality of the product changes over time, then it might be less appropriate for your senior cat’s needs.

Overall, Purina is a solid budget-friendly choice for old cats.

SPECIFICATIONS

Flavor: Grain Free Turkey

Food Type: Wet canned food

Product weight: 3 oz (case of 24)

Manufacturer: Purina

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS
  • Energy: 85 kcal/100g
  • Crude Protein: 11%
  • Crude Fat: 5%
  • Crude Fiber: 1.5%
  • Moisture: 78%
INGREDIENTS

Turkey, liver, turkey broth, chicken, pork lungs, fish, natural flavors, guar gum, minerals (potassium chloride, salt, mono, and dicalcium phosphate, magnesium sulfate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide), vitamins (Vitamins E, choline, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-3, Vitamin B-5, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-7, folic acid, Vitamin D-3), taurine

3 – Instinct Grain-Free Wet Cat Food Pate, Original Recipe Natural Canned Cat Food

Pros
  • Soft pate texture which is soft on the teeth
  • High protein animal-based food for strength
  • No cheap fillers
  • Wide variety of choices
Cons
  • Quality control issues
  • Inconsistent formula
  • Small amount of plant-based foods that may test a sensitive stomach
SUMMARY

Instinct Grain-Free Wet Cat Food Pate, Original Recipe Natural Canned Cat Food is another good choice on the table for owners to look at.

Keeping with the theme of the selections so far, Instinct is grain-free and high in quality animal protein. The benefit of this product is a wide variety of different meat options to choose from which will please the fussiest of senior cats.

The wet cat food comes with a moist broth and pate texture. Older cats will have an easy time being able to swallow this type of food versus hard dry cat food.

Whilst there are a few quality control issues and varying product ingredients, Instinct gets the tick as cat food for older felines.

SPECIFICATIONS

Flavor: Duck

Food Type: Wet canned food

Product weight: 5.5 (Pack of 12)

Manufacturer: Instinct

GUARANTEED ANALYSIS
  • Energy:  1,250 kcal/kg (195 kcal/can – 5.5 oz can)
  • Crude Protein: 9%
  • Crude Fat: 7%
  • Crude Fiber: 3%
  • Moisture: 78%
INGREDIENTS

Duck, Turkey Liver, Duck Broth, Ground Flaxseed, Montmorillonite Clay, Peas, Potassium Chloride, Carrots, Salt, Minerals (Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide), Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid), Taurine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Menhaden Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Artichokes, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Tomato, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Parsley

Guide to Choosing the Best Cat Food for Older Cats with Bad Teeth

Let’s talk about older cats and dental health.

Most people are aware that cats age faster than humans. The average life expectancy of a cat is 16 years.

Cats are considered elderly at 11 years of age. This corresponds to an age of 60 in human years. Check out my awesome guide to converting cat years to humans years for more information.

When cats get older they start to experience health difficulties. As with humans, they require additional care and attention to detail with nutrition.

Dental problems are common in elderly cats, which I will be focusing on in this guide.

Best cat food for older cats with bad teeth

What are common dental problems in older cats?

As cats get older, their teeth start to accumulate unwanted plaque [1]. This is due to general aging and a lack of maintenance.

Cats often clean their teeth and maintain them by chewing bones and grass [1]. A lifetime of poor quality foods is going to exacerbate the dental problems of aging.

The build-up of plaque over time can lead to tartar and gingivitis. Tartar is hard calcified deposits that build up around the teeth and gums, harboring bacteria. The bacteria are ingested and can lead to damage to internal organs [1]. It can also cause pain when chewing into food.

When you visit the dentist, you’ll note they will work at getting rid of any tartar buildup you have.

How can I check if my senior cat has dental problems?

Try to get a look at your older cat’s mouth regularly.

The teeth should be clean and white without any bleeding around the gums [1]. Your cat shouldn’t have an excessively 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 if you think your cat has a problem (e.g. change in eating habits).

How can I keep my older cat’s teeth clean?

There are two ways you can work at improving your cat’s dental health: diet and brushing.

Let’s talk about both.

Diet

Cat’s are obligate carnivores and thrive off animal-based foods.

Foods that contain a lot of resistant starch (e.g. many dry foods) can lead to a build-up of bacteria and plaque over time.

A cat’s diet needs to contain vitamin D, as this is crucial to dental health, as well as calcium. Cats can get this from whole animal-based foods (e.g. crushed bones) which are included in some products.

Check out my top 9 tips for feeding your cat for more.

Brushing

Older cats with tooth problems benefit from regular daily brushing.

You will need to use a specialized cat toothbrush and toothpaste on your cat. There are instructional videos on YouTube which detail the process step by step.

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

What can I feed my cat with bad teeth?

We’ve talked about what you can look at to identify and prevent dental problems. However, maybe your cat is already at this point already and needs some help with food choices.

There are two aspects to the selection of food for senior cats with bad teeth. The first is the nutritional needs of senior cats. The second aspect is the specific adjustments that need to be made to accommodate for dental problems or missing teeth.

Let’s talk about the diet side of things first.

What is the best cat food for older cat’s health?

As cats age, they have a reduced ability to digest protein and a reduction in lean muscle [3].

This means they require a higher protein diet than a younger cat.

Animal-based protein is of higher quality than grain-based protein [3]. This is due to improved digestion of the protein and higher amounts of essential amino acids (e.g. taurine).

Cats over the age of 11 years need 6-8g/kg of protein per day [3].

One-third of cats over the age of 12 have a reduced ability to digest fat [4]. Cats at this age benefit from higher caloric density foods to maintain weight.

Consumers are often misled into thinking dry cat food is more calorie and protein-dense (hence the best choice). However, this is due to not factoring in the moisture content of the food. Cat food needs to be converted to a dry matter basis for proper analysis of the nutrition. Check out my guide to reading cat food labels for more information.

Remember that cats struggle to obtain their water needs from a dry food diet (even when supplied with adequate water). Moisture is an important part of a cat’s diet, and wet cat food provides this to them. Check out my top 9 tips for cat nutrition for more awesome information.

The bottom line is the best cat food for elderly cats is a higher protein wet cat food that is easy to digest.

Older cats benefit from wet cat food which is not hard on the teeth and high in protein

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

A cat’s dentition is different from a human’s.

Cat’s have sharply pointed incisors that are designed to grab onto prey for consumption [2]. They are a carnivore by nature and that’s the main purpose of their teeth. Instead of chewing, they use their tongue to help navigate food to the back of the mouth for ingestion [2].

Humans, by comparison, grind and chew foods. This is due to being omnivores, which means we consume plant-based foods as part of the diet.

Some dry cat foods are marketed as good for dental health. However, the best foods for older cats are raw and soft foods. Anything that can be swallowed easily without the need to chew is best for older cats with bad teeth.

Can I use dry cat food for an older cat with bad teeth?

There is mixed advice on using dry cat food.

This will vary from case to case. Some cats may have pain (due to the development of dental problems such as gingivitis or periodontal disease) when biting down into food that is exacerbated by the hardness of dry food. You may notice your cat reducing its desire to eat dry food if this is happening.

Some cats with bad teeth or no teeth at all may still enjoy dry food. The dry food is softening with warm water and left to soak in. Think of it like soaking weet-bix in milk. Some dry food formulations are small enough for your cat to swallow whole.

Another option is freeze-dried cat food. When reheated, these foods are soft enough to swallow easily.

I highly recommend speaking with your veterinarian for help as the ability to feed your older cat dry food will depend on the situation.

Choosing the Best Cat Foods for Older Cats: Checklist

When selecting cat food, I use the following general checklist. This applies to cat food in general but is also applicable to older cats.

  • Avoids allergenic proteins: Turkey, lamb, rabbit, and duck products are less likely to cause an allergenic reaction. Chicken, beef, and fish may lead to allergic reactions. Speak with your vet for help.
  • Grain-free: Avoid wheat and other grain-based products in dry cat food. Easier to digest carbohydrate sources such as rice and potato are minimal.
  • Soy-free:  Cat’s are not able to digest legumes.
  • No/minimal fillers:  Fillers such as gums (e.g. carrageenan, xanthan gum) or artificial preservatives may lead to sensitive stomachs
  • No/minimal vegetables: Cats are obligate carnivores and don’t require vegetables in the diet. Some vegetables (e.g. onions, garlic) may lead to food intolerance.  
  • Preference for whole meat products: A product containing ‘meal’ is rendered meat that may contain fewer nutrients than whole meat products (e.g. liver, bone, skin).

As always, consult with your local veterinarian for more help with choosing food for older cats with bad teeth.

In general, I look for a grain-free recipe. Cats with no teeth generally do best with wet food that is marketed for adult cat food or senior cat food. As long as the food is high in protein, it can meet the needs of your older cat with teeth problems.

Conclusion

Older cats with bad teeth benefit from a highly nutritious animal-based diet from wet cat food.

When cats age they experience a loss of muscle mass and a general decline in health. They require a higher protein diet and a nutritious diet to maintain their quality of life for as long as possible. Cat food with less low-quality foods (e.g. grains) and more animal-based foods benefits your cat.

Older cats experience teeth problems and gum disease. This can be brought upon through the general process of aging, poor dental care, and lack of quality nutrition (e.g. deficiency of vitamin D). Brush your cat’s teeth regularly with a cat-approved toothbrush and toothpaste product per your vet’s recommendations. It is important that you clean your cat’s teeth with products designed for a cat. This, along with good nutrition, can help maintain your cat’s teeth.

Regularly inspect your cat’s mouth for signs of teeth problems. Examples include reddening around the gums, bleeding, discolored teeth, and plaque build-up. Consult with your vet for more help with oral care and gum disease.

An old cat with bad teeth benefits from wet canned food as this is easy to swallow with minimal pain. Freeze-dried soft cat treats may also benefit a senior cat by providing extra nutrition during the day.

Our Verdict

I chose the ZIWI Peak Provenance Canned Wet Cat Food – All Natural, High Protein, Grain-Free as the stand-out choice for older cats with bad teeth.

ZIWI cat food is high in protein from authentic animal-based foods. Cats with bad teeth will benefit from the soft texture and easy-to-digest food source. ZIWI also uses green mussels which contain glucosamine and essential fatty acids for joints health.

The downside of this product is the higher cost and may be difficult to afford for many owners.

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