Senior Cat Food vs Regular: What’s The Difference?





As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Have you ever found yourself standing in the pet food aisle at the supermarket to buy cat food and don’t know whether to get the senior cat food or the regular cat food? Of course, you want to provide the best diet for your young or senior cat, but what if there is something in the senior or regular feed that is better for your cats? Which one is the best choice? What is the difference between senior cat food and regular cat food?

Senior cat food contains fewer calories and protein than regular cat food because older cats are less active than younger cats. As a result, the phosphorous levels in senior cat food are lower and do not compromise the function of their liver and kidneys. It is also softer and specially designed for a senior’s brittle teeth.

Many cat owners feed their senior and adult cats the same food, but their dietary needs differ. Therefore, it is essential to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients depending on their age. This article will discuss the differences between senior cat food and regular cat food and what you need to know for your cat to have the best, healthiest, and happiest life.

Is Senior Cat Food Necessary?

As a cat ages, his dietary needs change. Some ingredients present in regular cat food are no longer required or are only necessary in smaller doses. Senior cat feed is needed because the contents assist their teeth, aging joints and help to ensure that they maintain a healthy coat and strong immune system.

It is always a good idea to have a veterinarian’s opinion and expertise on what is or isn’t good to feed your cat. The most important thing is to ensure that your cat has a balanced diet.

Long-term feeding of dry cat food can lead to renal failure in cats. Canned or wet cat food contains water; therefore, cats on a dry-food-only diet take in only half the amount of water as opposed to a balanced diet of wet and dry food.

If you are only feeding your cat dry food, you need to consider getting some wet food and alternating between wet and dry during the day. Cats that only eat dry food can become dehydrated, which places stress on their kidneys over time.

What Are The Benefits Of Senior Cat Food?

Senior Cat Food Vs Regular

Lower Calories – Senior cats that have a controlled or low-calorie diet are less likely to become obese. This lowers their chances of developing high cholesterol, and they won’t have excessive weight on their aging joints. Veterinarians insist that it is imperative to feed senior cats an energy-dense diet to maintain a healthy body weight.

Antioxidants – The enhanced level of antioxidants in senior cat food helps strengthen a senior cat’s fragile immune system.

Efficient Digestible Ingredients – As your cat ages, it requires a diet that is easier for its body to digest. This helps to prevent toxin build-up in the cat’s colon and supports their overall gut health.

At What Age Should You Switch Your Cat To A Senior Diet?

Cats are considered seniors between the ages of 7 – 10 years. This is when it is time to consider adjusting your cat’s diet from regular cat food to senior cat food.

Senior food is higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein and fat, accommodating their decrease in physical activity.

Can Senior Cats Survive On Regular Food Only?

According to the United States Food And Drug Administration, regular cat food labels should contain +/- 22% protein and +/- 8 % fat. Unfortunately, senior cat food only contains 18% protein and 5% fat. If younger cats don’t get enough protein, they are more likely to develop various health conditions.

Regular cat food contains more minerals and vitamins because younger cats are still growing and need the additional phosphorous, calcium, and other nutrients to ensure healthy bones and teeth.

Regular food contains 30% more calories than senior cat food, so if an old cat were to live on regular cat food only, chances are they would become overweight, sedentary, and sickly. In addition, they will be more prone to diseases and illnesses due to a weakened immune system

Senior food is easier for cats to digest to accommodate their changing needs as they age. Therefore, if you had to select one type of cat food appropriate for all your cats to share, the best choice would be the senior cat feed.

With that being said, you need to bear in mind that kittens require a different diet from regular or senior-aged cats. This is because kittens are still growing and need a sufficient supply of nutrients to prevent compromising their health and physical development. Therefore, kitten food contains more protein, vitamins, and calories than food for older cats.

Is It Safe For Cats To Only Eat Dry Food?

Protein and caloric content are essential, but there are a few more factors to consider when selecting the best food for your cat.

The protein content listed on wet food could indicate 10-15%, while the label on dry food will show a 20-30% protein content. Therefore, you must feed your young or senior cat the correct balance between wet and dry cat food.

5 Of The Best Senior Cat Food

Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ Chicken Recipe Dry Senior Cat Food

According to 95% of cat owners who purchase cat food on Chewy say that Hill’s Science Diet Adult 11+ is without a doubt one of the best senior cat foods on the market. This fantastic product is full of antioxidants and natural sources of vitamins, perfectly formulated to cater to the nutritional needs of senior cats.

  • Crude Protein: 28.0% (min)
  • Crude Fiber: 3.5 % (max)
  • Moisture: 8.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 18.0% (min)

Royal Canin Aging 12+ Canned Senior Cat Food

Royal Canin conducts industry-leading research on the nutritional needs of cats. Each of their products is of the highest quality health formulas, and they cater to the specific needs of cats of all ages. This product is perfectly balanced with ingredients to support kidney health, joint health, and other senior cat ailments.

  • Crude Protein: 9.0% (min)
  • Crude Fiber: 1.8% (max)
  • Moisture: 82.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 2.5% (min)

Nutro Senior Indoor Cat Food

Nutro Senior contains essential nutrients such as omega 6-fatty acids for healthy skin and coat and taurine to support your senior cat’s heart. This product is free of wheat, soy protein, corn, GMO’s artificial flavors, colors, chicken by-products, and preservatives.

The high protein content promotes healthy muscles, and cats love its meaty flavor.

  • Crude Protein: 36.0% (min)
  • Crude Fiber: 6.0% (max)
  • Moisture: 10.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 17.0% (min)

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult 11+ Classic Senior Canned Cat Food

Purina’s Pro Plan range provides exceptional nutrition to cats of all ages. Each serving contains 25 minerals and vitamins as well as taurine for healthy cell development. This is a delicious, grain-free, liver and salmon feline delicacy that your senior cat will love.

  • Crude Protein: 10.0% (min)
  • Moisture: 78.0% (max)

*(45% dry matter protein content)

Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Dry Senior Cat Food

Wild cats’ diets inspire blue Buffalo’s grain-free senior formula. It contains flaxseed which supplies your cat with an efficient number of fatty acids and omega 3 to maintain a healthy coat and skin. Other vital ingredients such as taurine, minerals, and vitamins help your cat maintain a steady weight and good overall health.

  • Crude Protein: 32.0% (min)
  • Crude Fiber: 5.0% (max)
  • Moisture: 9.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 15.0% (min)

5 Of The Best Regular Cat Food

Ziwi Peak Venison Recipe Canned Cat Food

This New Zealand-based company uses sustainable and ethical ingredients such as seafood and meat sourced from New Zealand. The proteins in Ziwi Peak are free of growth promotants, antibiotics, and hormones. 

Their recipes contain a high percentage of seafood, meat, and organs and are the foundation of their canned food products. There are no high glycemic ingredients, fillers, or artificial preservatives added to any of their cat food formulas. Additionally, each Kiwi Peak canned cat food contains chondroitin, joint-supporting glucosamine, and omega 6 fatty acids.

  • Crude Protein: 10.0% (min)
  • Crude Fiber: 2.0% (min)
  • Moisture: 78.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 4.0% (min)

Authority Chicken Entrée Adult Cat Food Pate Canned Cat Food

This product contains no poultry or animal by-products and is made from liver, ocean fish, and chicken. It is free of preservatives, artificial flavors, and colorants.

Guar gum is used as a thickening agent; therefore, Authority cat food contains no inflammatory additives such as carrageenan.

  • Crude Protein: 10.0% (min)
  • Crude Fiber: 0.8% (min)
  • Moisture: 78.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 6.5% (max)

Dr Elsey’s Cleanprotein Chicken Formula Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

This cat food consists primarily of pork protein isolate, chicken, egg, and species-appropriate nutrition, with gelatin as its primary binding agent. It is delicious dry cat food, packed with species-appropriate fat, carnivore-appropriate nutrition, lots of protein, and very few carbohydrates.

93% of buyers on Chewy highly recommend this product.

  • Crude Protein: 59.0% (max)
  • Crude Fiber: 4.0% (min)
  • Moisture: 12.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 18.0% (max)

Open Farm Wild-Caught Salmon Dry Cat Food

This cat food is an excellent choice for picky eaters, and the cats love the taste of it. Open Farm’s products are made from high-quality, well-sourced ingredients such as fish, poultry, and meat. Their fish-flavored cat food contains ocean whitefish meal, herring meal, and salmon and is 100% grain-free.

  • Crude Protein: 37.0% (max)
  • Crude Fiber: 3.0% (min)
  • Moisture: 10.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 18.0% (max) 

Iams Proactive Health High Protein Adult Cat Food With Norwegian Salmon And Chicken

This cat food is made by another trusted brand and contains high-quality proteins and prebiotics, specially formulated for an adult cat’s gut health.

Chicken and Norwegian Salmon are full of nutrients and protein, laying a healthy foundation for their senior years.

  • Crude Protein: 38.0% (min)
  • Crude Fiber: 3.0% (max)
  • Moisture: 10.0% (max)
  • Crude Fat: 18.0% (min)

It is essential to purchasing cat food that meets AAFCO nutritional guidelines to ensure that your cats eat, stay healthy, and prevent any deficiencies or malnourishment.

Pregnant or lactating cats need food that is formulated for all life stages. Kittens can also eat food that is prepared for all life stages and growth.

Cats 1 year+ (adult stage) need food formulated for adult maintenance and all life stages.

Apart from these recommendations, senior cats do not necessarily need senior cat food, and adult cats can eat regular or senior cat food. The trick is to make sure that they stay healthy. Monitor them and take them for regular vet checkups to know if you need to change or adapt their diet.

In Conclusion

As cat lovers, we want to make sure that our kitties are getting the best food to suit their feline needs. With all the different opinions and various products on the market today, it is understandable that we question which information is accurate. 

At the end of the day, we just want our cats to be healthy and happy, no matter their age. So next time you are at the store, and you are unsure which brand or type of food to get for your cat, the best thing to do is to get advice from a veterinarian because not all cats are the same, and a vet will be able to supply you with the best advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between senior and regular cat food?

The main difference between senior and regular cat food is the ingredients. Senior cat food contains a higher amount of fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins, and antioxidants to support the changing needs and promote healthy aging in older cats.

When should I transition my cat to senior food?

The appropriate age to switch to senior cat food depends on the individual cat and the specific food product. Many senior diets are designed for cats aged 7+ years, while others target cats aged 11+ years. Consult with your cat’s veterinarian for a thorough evaluation before making any dietary changes.

How does senior cat food benefit older cats?

Senior cat food provides older cats the nutrients they need to maintain energy levels, support healthy aging, and avoid the loss of lean muscle mass. It contains more antioxidants and proteins than regular cat food, ensuring that the nutritional needs of aging cats are met.

Can a younger cat eat senior cat food?

While it is not harmful for a younger cat to eat senior cat food occasionally, it is not recommended as a long-term solution. Senior cat food is formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of older cats, and it may not provide adequate nutrients for a younger cat’s growth and development.

Is it necessary to feed senior-specific food to older cats?

Feeding senior-specific cat food to older cats is not strictly necessary, but it can be beneficial for their overall health. As cats age, their nutritional requirements change, and senior cat food is formulated with higher protein content to meet those needs. However, always consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your cat’s diet.

Does the texture of senior cat food differ from regular cat food?

There is no single answer to this question, as the texture of senior cat food can vary depending on the brand and type (wet or dry). Some senior cat food may be made with a softer texture to accommodate older cats with dental issues, while others might be similar to regular cat food. Choosing a senior cat food that works best for your cat’s preferences and needs is important.

About the author

Latest Posts

  • A Complete Guide To Parakeet Sexing

    A Complete Guide To Parakeet Sexing

    You have finally adopted a parakeet and love spending time with your new pet as it’s making everyone in your home happy. But since it’s still a new pet, you’re still trying to figure out a perfect name for your bird. Unfortunately, you don’t know its gender since you got it as a gift or…

    Read more

  • A Guide To Clicker Training For Birds

    A Guide To Clicker Training For Birds

    Finally, you can introduce clicker training for birds by asking them to continue doing what they love! It can be something as simple as a step up, a handshake, or a high-five. With your reward nearby and a clicker in your hand, you can verbally command your birds. And when your bird does it correctly,…

    Read more

  • Macaw Blue and Gold Price (Plus 7 Things To Know)

    Macaw Blue and Gold Price (Plus 7 Things To Know)

    Known for its stunning form and beautiful colors, the Blue and Gold Macaw truly is a glorious bird to look at, and it is no question to know that this bird also comes with a hefty price. Aside from its striking colors, it also is brilliant and, most significantly, high in demand.  With such a…

    Read more