Best Cat Food for Older Cats with Teeth Problems [2019 Guide]

Article last updated: Oct 3, 2019 @ 5:37 pm

The best cat food for older cats with teeth problems is a very common concern among pet parents. Sadly, this is probably an inevitable question for most cat owners. It seems that when we domesticated the cat, we also domesticated her diet.

You want to provide your senior cat with an optimal diet in order to 1) ensure proper hydration and 2) stimulate and clean gums and teeth. Read more below to find out how to do just that!


In this article:

  • The Importance of Healthy Teeth in Cats
  • Why Do Cats Have Teeth Problems?
  • Table: Best Cat Food for Older Cats with Teeth Problems
  • How to Help Prevent Teeth Problems in Your Cat
  • Which Food to Choose for Older Cats with Teeth Issues
  • Final Thoughts

Importance of Healthy Teeth in Cats

The condition of your cat’s teeth has an enormous impact on its overall health. Yep. Other ailments will develop when Kitty’s teeth and gums are not getting the proper care they need.

She may not be able to eat without discomfort, and when nutrition suffers, so does your kitty. Taking steps to protect your cat’s dental health is an important part of being a good pet parent.

When an infection develops from unhealthy gums and teeth, it can travel through the bloodstream to compromise your pet’s vital organs.

Why Do Cats Have Teeth Problems?

When plaque – the same stuff you fight in your own mouth – develops along Kitty’s gum line, painful inflammation often follows.

Plaque attacks cat’s teeth just like plaque attacks ours.

Cats with poor diets tend to have worse teeth than cats with healthy diets that comprise a mix of dry/wet and raw cat food.

Obviously, the responsibility for our four-legged kids includes regular trips to the vet for dental checkups and teeth cleaning.

Our Recommendation to Feed Older Cats with Teeth Problems

 ProductTypePriceOur Rating
BLUE FreedomSoft Wet Food, (5.5-oz x 24 cans)$$4.5 / 5
Stella & Chewy's Freeze-dried Raw Cat Food, (8-oz or 18-oz)$$$5/5
Go! Fit and FreeHard Dry Food (8-lb or 16-lb bag)$$$$4/5
Hill's Prescription Dental CarePrescription Dry Cat Food for Dental Health, (8.5-lb bag)$$$4.2 / 5

Preventing Teeth Trouble in Your Cat

First, preventing teeth problems in your cat starts with a good dental hygiene routine. Either at home or at the vet, make sure to schedule your cat in for teeth cleaning at least once or twice a year (more appointments might be necessary for stuck-on plaque).

Second, you need to feed crunchy kibble bits, raw freeze-dried food, or chews so that plaque can be removed during the chewing process.

Wet cat food is better for senior cats who cannot chew at all, but providing only wet food won’t help remove plaque as much as chewing does. Dental chews are a good solution for cats who cannot eat dry cat food but need gum stimulation.

Third, provide fresh water daily. Fresh, clean water is vital for a healthy cat mouth!

Fortunately, there is a new commitment among pet food manufacturers to the overall health and well-being of your pet. Oftentimes, a change in diet can help cats in preventing tooth problems.

If in doubt, your first best source for information on cat health and nutrition is, of course, your veterinarian. Foods promoting to have a special formula for older cats don’t always meet their needs, so make sure to consider your cat’s specific needs first.

Choosing Cat Food for Older Cats With Teeth Problems

If your cat has other health issues apart from arthritis she’s bound to have as time passes, your vet will suggest an appropriate food to fortify your friend.

Like their wild cousins, domestic cats don’t necessarily chew their food. In the wild, they mostly need their teeth for ripping and shredding. That’s a good thing because it means that they do not need teeth to eat foods as long as they are not too hard and tiny enough to be swallowed without too much discomfort. That means that domestic cats get by just fine with toothless munching.

Cat Food | Fluffy Kitty

Your kitty isn’t vegan.

Cats are carnivores. In order to thrive, they must have nutrients such as taurine and arachidonic acid, found only in animal sources. Look for real meat among the first ingredients.

(Tip: The word “meal” in pet food simply means that the natural meat undergoes dehydration during processing. In order to eliminate the word meal in the labeling, the meat would have to be complete with its water.

Watch those carbs! Essentially, things like grains, corn, gluten meal included in your cat’s food are more to produce a sense of fullness or satiety. They are non-essential to your cat’s health, so why buy them?

Senior cats benefit from Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA in their diets.

These can come in the form of supplement pills or liquid sprays, or they can be included in Kitty’s daily meal plan.

Royal Canin and Natural Balance dry and wet foods contain these essential supplements as does Go! Fit and Free [1]. Like other Omega 3 supplements, these derive from cold-water fish like salmon and supply a boost to Kitty’s overall health.

Support your older cat’s joints (and supplement their meal) with tasty joint-health drops

Senior cats can be finicky eaters. If your cat tires of having their kibble mixed with hot water, then try adding these organic beef-flavored joint-health drops to help soften up your senior cat’s food.

Scruffy Paws Hip and Joint Vitalize

The Scruffy Paws Hip & Joint Vitalize Drops offer full-spectrum joint support for senior cats while luring your senior feline to the food bowl. They’ll never even suspect they’re getting supplements because of the satisfying taste!

raw diet is probably best for your kitty but freeze-dried foods arrive in second place. 

Manufacturers like Stella and Chewy produce freeze-dried cat foods to be re-hydrated at mealtime (see above table). A raw freeze-dried diet is the best of both worlds, offering your cat optimal nutrition and dental stimulation.

Another interesting offering is ZiwiPeak Air-Dried Cat Cuisine. This New Zealand company features choices like Beef, Lamb, Venison, or Mackerel with Lamb.

Be wary of an all-dry diet. Dehydration can quickly overcome a senior cat.

If she’s not drinking enough, a diet of strictly kibbles won’t provide the liquid she would be getting if she were in the wild. Also if your cat swallows hard kibble without crunching them a tiny bit, they may face gastrointestinal problems.

In that case, there are a few things you can do :

  • Mix his/her usual kibble in warm water or gravy to soften it up
  • Mix his/her kibble with wet food and let it soak for a while
  • Transition completely to soft food (but do choose quality even if it’s pricier! Cheap wet cat food is the worst for your cat).

Final Thoughts: Cat Food for Older Cats with Teeth Problems

Our investigation reveals that the best food you can offer your older cat is the rawest and natural a diet you can find and afford. Good quality, high protein wet or dehydrated food (that you can rehydrate) comes in second.

We happily report that there are various and sundry products on the market today that produce excellent, quality nutrition for older cats.

Unfortunately, medical issues often afflict older cats. Conditions like arthritis, obesity, hyperthyroidism, or troubles with her heart and/or kidneys can develop as cats – and people – age. These ailments will alter Kitty’s dietary requirements in her Golden years, making it nearly impossible to find a ‘silver bullet’ cat food that can take care of everything she needs.

Therefore, our research on this subject leads us to recommend that you consult with a veterinarian you trust about the best diet for your older cat.

8 Comments

  1. Pamela Singletary said:

    I just adopted a 12 year old calico cat who had her teeth removed 2 years ago. I am wondering what brand of hard food to feed her? She eats her soft food but when she eats the hard food she picks it up and I guess tries to bite it. It then falls on the floor and she continues to pick it up and try eating it. Please suggest what I should do.

    • Hi Pamela, thanks for reaching out! I would transition to using only soft food, no hard food. You can even soften up the hard food by crushing the hard food and adding a little bit of hot water to mix it up so she doesn’t have to chew. The brands we recommend in this article are still good choices! which brand are you feeding her now? xx

  2. Beth English said:

    Hi, My cat, Doodles, is 16 and has always eaten dry food. Since she had to have some teeth pulled she often has pain while eating the dry food We have tried giving her tuna, which she ate for a while, and I’ve tried various canned foods, which she won’t touch. I will try the dehydrated food next.

    • Hi Beth! Dehydrated, slightly moistened food can help your cat eat without pain. Will she eat the dry if it’s softened with say, warm water or broth? Best, Bri

  3. Shelly Martin said:

    Our cat is around 15yrs old. The vet said her teeth weren’t bad last summer but should be cleaned. She now seems to have trouble eating. She does not eat dry food nor hard treats anymore at all. We have been feeding her a variety of canned and wet food 3 times a day. We are scared to have her be put under anesthesia at her age to have her teeth cleaned and/or fixed.
    Please help with advice!!!
    Thank you!

    • Hi Shelly, so I’ve read a lot about this and most vets agree that the anesthesia isn’t what puts your cat at risk – it’s moreso their overall health, the experience and care of the vet/personnel administering the anesthesia, and so on. If your lovely cat can no longer eat and is pain because of infection due to mouth and tooth decay, then it’s worth having her teeth cleaned. Sometimes, owners thhink the decrease in activity from an old cat is due to their age, when instead it is because of severe dental infection. Talk to your vet first, of course, but this is our two cents. We hope that helps!! xoxo

  4. Ed said:

    Great advice and thank you 🙂

    My best friend Kiddo, he’s a superstar at 10 years young and is the ultimate wingman whenever we’re seen together.

    The only thing is that he’s never touches dry food and his teeth are suffering which is why I’ve come here. We’re off to the vet this weekend to get his mouth all fixed up, which surprisingly he doesnt mind even though its an 80km trip to the vet each way (I live in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia) because he gets so much attention and wants to be friends with everyone.

    In the meantime, some great advice, which I’ll put to use now. You should see him, he loves helping me feed the wild kangaroos that come up to the property each night 🙂

    • Super, Ed! Sounds like Kiddo is a great pal and a charming one at that! 🙂

      Hopefully our article led you to find some good cat food for senior cats, but definitely ask your vet when you go this weekend! What a fun road trip! We’d be happy to see your photos of Kiddo helping feed the Kangaroos! Write to us/send us a photo in an email so we can share on our Facebook (if you’d like!)

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