We all want to help our feline friends age gracefully. We’ll go as far as buying them memory foam or heated beds to help ease those senior aches and pains, or even get them a set of stairs to help them climb onto your bed or furniture.
But one area that we may be neglecting in the kitty aging process is their teeth. 50-90% of cats older than four have some form of dental disease, including gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption. Many people don’t even think about trying to find the best cat food for their older cat with bad teeth. So, how do you choose a cat food that won’t cause further dental concerns?
Best Overall Choice: Purina Pro Plan Senior Canned Cat Food
Easier to chew while providing increased hydration to help keeps joints & bones healthy.
If your older kitty already is suffering from some mouth soreness, chances are you’ll be looking for a canned food that is a little gentler on the teeth and gums. When it comes to canned food, it’s hard to beat the quality and affordability of Purina Pro Plan. It’s packed with whole-meat protein, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and all of the vitamins and minerals your kitty needs to stay at the top of their health.
Not only is this canned formula nutritious and easy to chew, but it also comes in a wide variety of flavors so that you can keep even picky senior cats interested in eating. This is something that becomes more and more difficult to do with bad teeth. This isn’t a pate type of food; there is some texture to it so that your cat won’t become bored with a puree either.
Most of Purina Pro Plan Senior canned cat food flavors contain fish, which could be a problem if your cat is allergic or if you don’t like the smell. It can smell up your house if you’re feeding a lot of it.
- Soft, easy to eat consistency
- Variety of flavors
- High in protein and other nutrients
- Contains fish which some cats can be allergic to
- Can have a strong smell
Best Kibble Style Food: Hill’s Science Diet Dry Senior Indoor Cat Food
Specially formulated to provide optimal levels of nutrients for eye, heart, kidney & joint health for senior cats.
If your cat’s dental problems are not too bad and can still be saved, considering a dry kibble may actually help treat and prevent these issues from becoming worse. Hill’s Senior Indoor dry kibble cat food is triangular shaped and thicker to mechanically help clean your cat’s teeth while they chew.
This food contains fiber amounts properly formulated for indoor cats meaning it is highly digestible to create less waste in the litter box. The high fiber also helps to promote digestive regularity and a correct caloric balance to accommodate an indoor lifestyle without leading to weight gain and muscle loss in old age.
Hill’s Senior Indoor cat food also contains proper amounts of antioxidants and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and hair, to help decrease inflammation, and boost the immune system.
With dry kibble that is thick and triangular, senior kitties with painful mouths will have trouble eating it. This food would be better suited for cats with dental disease that are still able to chew their food.
- Kibble shape helps remove plaque and tartar
- Decreased litter box waste
- Proper nutrition for older cats
- May be difficult to chew for some cats
- Some cats may not like it
Best Grain Free Option: Instinct Grain-Free Wet Cat Food Pate
Made without grain, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.
If your cat would rather not eat grains, Instinct Wet Cat food is the way to go. This food is designed for all life stages, including older kitties. The pate texture makes it a great no-chew type food for those cats with sore mouths that may turn up their noses at other foods.
The standout of Instinct cat food is the protein. It boasts that 95% of this food is made from whole meat, making it a highly digestible protein source to promote muscle maintenance in old age. It is then balanced with fruits and vegetables to complete the nutrient profile. It also comes in many different flavors, including duck, chicken, and salmon, to keep your senior cat’s tastebuds on their toes and keep them interested in what’s in their food bowl.
However, you may need to check your sources if you order this product online. Some people have had this product arrive spoiled even before the expiration date. While this is more likely due to the distributor than the manufacturer, you’ll still want to be careful and check out every can before giving it to your cat.
- Highly digestible protein
- Lots of flavors
- Pate texture is easy on teeth
- Possible spoilage problems
Most Variety: Purina Fancy Feast
Purina offers a lot of product options and flavors for your cat.
With older kitties, the severity of their dental issues can vary by the day. Because of this, somedays your cat may feel like eating kibble, and some days they may need something softer, like canned food. This is where Purina Fancy Feast has you covered. They offer a wide range of senior cat foods from dry kibbles, to pates, to minced or shredded meat. Along with the variety in textures, this food comes a variety in flavors, such as chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, liver, and trout-just, to name a few.
The different textures of Purina Fancy Feast allow you to mix and match foods depending on how your cat’s mouth is feeling and is also packed with protein, antioxidants, and the proper balance of vitamins and minerals to keep senior cats’ bodies healthy. It’s grain-free as well, should your cat need that option.
There have been some quality control issues with Fancy Feast as well, especially the canned formulas. This is more than likely on the distributor than the manufacturer, but you never can be too careful what you are feeding your cat. As with any brand of food, always inspect each can and bag before feeding.
- Variety of textures to suit any dental condition
- Variety of flavors to entice picky eaters
- Cans have been known to arrive spoiled before the expiration date
Best Treats: Delectables Lickable Wet Cat Treats:
Also provides hydration, and is free of grain, fillers, preservatives, and by-products.
If you like to give your furry baby snacks or rewards, the DelectablesLickable Wet Cat Treats are easy to chew for sore mouths and provide the necessary moisture that most older cats crave. There’s also a variety of textures so that your cat can choose which they are comfortable chewing without sacrificing any nutrition.
This treat isn’t just empty calories. Other than water, it can provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants without fillers, preservatives, or by-products. The variety of flavors compliment the variety of textures, giving your cat exactly what they are craving when they are craving it. Another plus is that they come in a squeezable pouch, making it easy for you to bond with your cat while giving them a treat.
This wet cat treat comes in many textures and consistencies, and some cat parents didn’t like the look of the creamier types. The meat pieces are blended in with the gravy, making more of a puree, which is great for cats with bad teeth but not so great to look at. Some people also don’t like the smell of them.
- Easy to eat treat
- Variety of textures and flavors
- Allows for interaction while feeding your cat
- The smell can bother some people
- Some people may find the look of it unappetizing
Buying Guide for Cat Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth
When your older kitty suffers from dental disease or bad teeth, the food you choose has to solve multiple problems. It needs to meet an older cat’s nutrition requirements and be safe and gentle on the teeth. Bonus points are given if the food can help improve dental health. So, see how you can find the right multimodal cuisine for your cat.
Senior Cat Nutrition
Before we get into which foods are best for our senior kitties with bad teeth, let’s do a quick overview of senior cat nutrition. Our older kitties require some special treatment when it comes to their diet, including:
- Digestible Protein: Cats need protein, even more so in older kitties. Diets high in protein help maintain muscle mass and provide energy but with less chance of becoming overweight. Older kitties need a highly digestible protein due to their decreased digestive efficiency. Highly digestible proteins come from ingredients like real, whole meats rather than plant-based protein sources.
- Antioxidants: Ingredients like vitamin E help reduce and repair oxidative damage to cells, a process that occurs with age in all animals. Antioxidants can be used to prolong cognitive dysfunction, or dementia, in kitties as well.
- Healthy Fats: Rather than cutting fats out of an older cat’s diet, you need to be sure to provide healthy fats that contain proper amounts of omega fatty acids. These fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and promote healthy skin and coat.
- Moisture: Older kitties need more moisture in their food to help combat lower kidney function and prevent dehydration.
Dental Care for Cats
We all understand that it is much easier to prevent an illness or health issue than treat one. Dental disease is no different. While most of us already find ourselves in the treatment stage, it’s essential to understand how to prevent dental disease.
First and foremost, get your veterinarian involved. Annual or bi-annual exams are a great time to get your vet’s eyes on your cat’s teeth. They will be able to spot the early stages of dental disease, as well as recommend a cleaning routine that will be manageable for both you and your cat.
It’s recommended to brush your cat’s teeth daily or at least three times a week. If this sounds crazy and unattainable to you, remember that every little bit helps. If once a week fits your schedule better, then once a week it is.
Brushing helps remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup, leading to bad breath and inflammation of the gums and connective tissues surrounding the teeth. It can also prevent tooth loss and give you a chance to catch the little things before they turn into more serious issues.
The next step is a professional cleaning. Even with regular brushing, there may be buildup that is unreachable by a toothbrush. Professional cleanings require sedation or anesthesia and will give vets a chance to get a good look at your cat’s dental health, remove any problem teeth, and treat any lingering gum issues.
Cat Food For Cats With Bad Teeth
Finally, the food that your older kitty eats can have a significant impact on their oral health. Let’s look at that in detail.
- Texture: Most of the time, it’s recommended to feed your kitty hard kibble as the manual crunching helps to naturally clean teeth and prevent tartar buildup. However, in cats with severe forms of dental disease, hard kibble might be too painful to eat, causing them not to eat their food. For these kitties, soft or canned food may be more comfortable and enticing.
- Shape and Size: Generally, larger kibble means more chewing, which leads to cleaner teeth. Most dental diets for cats will feature larger or more triangular-shaped kibble to encourage chewing to get as much tartar and plaque off as possible.
- On the flip side, if your kitty has a sore mouth, smaller sized kibble may work better for less painful chewing.
- Additives: Some dental diets will use special ingredients to help reduce tartar, plaque, and bad breath-causing bacteria buildup while promoting dental health. Some of those include sodium tripolyphosphate, zinc, and green tea.
Bad teeth, or dental disease, is a common ailment of older kitties. Finding the best food for your older cat with bad teeth can be challenging, depending on their stage of dental disease. Some food will work better to prevent dental issues, while some are better suited for those that already have pain and discomfort. Always look to your veterinarian to guide you through the best nutrition for your older cat with bad teeth.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.