May 23, 2024

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The Best Senior Cat Foods of 2024

3 min read

What to look for in senior cat food

When shopping for the senior cat food, considering the following criteria can help you make the right choice:

AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement for adult maintenance or all life stages: The AAFCO is a nonprofit organization that recommends nutritional profiles based on an animal’s life stage. They haven’t established specific recommendations for senior cat diets, so these foods must meet the minimum AAFCO nutritional recommendations set for adult or all life stages foods. This means the nutritional profile of senior foods can vary from recipe to recipe. But if you choose a senior cat food formulated for adult maintenance or all life stages, the recipe will meet an adult cat’s dietary requirements.

Guaranteed analysis and nutrient profiles: The guaranteed analysis shows the percentages of protein, fat, and essential nutrients in a food. According to AAFCO standards, all life stages food must meet the minimum nutrient requirements for kittens, which is a minimum of 30% protein and 9% fat. Adult maintenance cat food must have a minimum of 26% protein and 9% fat. Cat food must also contain essential nutrients, including amino acids like taurine found in animal protein, fatty acids from cold water fish, minerals, and vitamins. Our experts say it’s critical to discuss your cat’s recommended nutrient profile with your vet before transitioning to a new food. 

Ingredients list: The ingredients list on a pet food label appears in order of weight. Your cat can get the nutrients they need from various ingredients in many different combinations, Dierenfeld says. However, cats are obligate carnivores, so they require animal-based proteins for essential amino acids. Proteins in the form of whole meat, meat meal, or byproducts should always come first on the ingredients list.

Expert formulations: Our picks for the best senior cat food all meet quality control standards as recommended by WSAVA. This means the brands employ a full-time board-certified veterinary nutritionist or a PhD-level animal nutritionist. These standards help ensure your cat’s food is formulated to meet nutritional recommendations using the right ingredients for cats. 

Manufacturing standards: When choosing a brand of cat food, consider the quality control measures and facilities used. Brands that own their manufacturing plants have greater control over the ingredients in their recipes and, therefore, the food your cat consumes. Pet food brands should also be transparent about how they implement quality control measures. It’s generally not enough to simply say they conduct quality control. Pet food companies should make this information available on their website or provide it upon request.

Calorie content: The calorie content of cat food is listed in kilocalories (kcals). Instead of basing calorie needs solely on age, our experts recommend discussing your cat’s lifestyle and eating habits with your vet. Before recommending any senior diet to pet parents, Luisana assesses a cat’s ideal weight, BCS, and muscle mass condition score. The BCS assesses your cat’s body fat on a scale of 1 to 9 while the muscle mass conditioning score assesses your cat’s muscle loss on a scale from normal to severe. This can help you understand if they need to lose or gain weight and lean muscle. You can ask your vet to teach you how to use this visual tool so you can check your cat’s BCS and muscle condition score at home.


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