As a cat parent, you probably think that providing your kitties with healthy cat foods, clean litter boxes, and even cat toys makes you the best pet owner in the world.
But did you know that to keep your feline pal healthy and happy, you should be regularly brushing her teeth? Dental problems in cats are more common than you think and these can lead to other health issues and much discomfort to your furry companions.
Yes, healthy teeth and gums are just as important to pets as in humans, and brushing is the gold standard in dental health by far.
Like in our teeth, when plaque builds up and compacts into tartar, this can cause other dental issues like gingivitis and tooth abscesses, and even more serious disorders like heart and kidney infections as the bacteria spread to other parts of the body.
In this article, we'll explore the best cat foods for older cats with bad teeth and also discuss proper dental care for your cat’s teeth problems.
Also Read: 2021’s Best Semi Moist Cat Food Reviews
What To Look For In The Best Cat Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth
Dental problems in cats cannot be fixed by a cat’s diet. After all, it’s the cat food that mostly causes these dental issues including bad teeth, gum disease, and stinky breath.
However, some diets may be less bothersome to a cat’s teeth and gums, and may even help reduce some of these dental problems, especially to a senior cat.
Some kibbles, for instance, are designed to scrub the tartar in the cat’s teeth or may be formulated with substances that can weaken or prevent plaque buildup. However, for cats with inflamed gums, soft or wet food is preferred as dry food can be painful to chew.
The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) offers a list of approved dog and cat foods that may help alleviate common dental problems in pets.
You can check its website for this list. But even with these diets and treats, brushing is still the best way to prevent bad teeth.
As a pet owner, you also must put into consideration the dogs’ and cats' ages when choosing a diet. Senior cats have a lesser need for fat and calories because they’re also less active.
But senior cat food still needs complete and balanced nutrition, with ample protein and fiber, and some fat and calories too.
Here are some of the qualities to look for in the best cat food for older cats with bad teeth:
Sufficient, High-Quality Protein
All cats need high-quality protein to live healthy and well. Cats are obligate carnivores that need animal protein to survive.
This is why regardless of your cats’ age, but more importantly for older cats and senior cats, cat foods must be adequate in protein content, specifically high-quality animal protein. Ideally, the protein load must be at least 25% and 7% for dry food and wet cat food respectively.
Low to moderate Fat content
To avoid other health problems, your less active elderly cat must maintain a healthy weight. To achieve this, give her senior cat food with low to moderate fat content. Dry food with a fat load of less than 18% is appropriate, while for canned wet cat food, it shouldn’t be more than 7%. Try to encourage your senior cat to have some activity too.
High to moderate Fiber content
Fiber can aid both in digestion and also in dental health. Foods with fiber help keep the cat’s teeth and gums clean. They also help get the saliva flowing, which in turn helps to fight cavities and gum disease. For dry food, fiber content of 5-10% is good. For canned food or wet cat food, 1-3% is okay.
Easily Digestible Ingredients
Your aging cat needs to absorb the vital nutrients in her cat food. This is why easily digestible ingredients must comprise her meal. Consider the digestibility in cat foods. Muscle meat from poultry for instance has a digestibility rating of 92%, while for fish, it's 75%. Cooked egg whites have a digestibility rating of 98%. But the vet is the best to guide you with the right ingredients in cat foods.
To keep your younger cats or adult cats going, their cat foods must be sufficient in important amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids. Senior cats especially need a balanced and complete diet to prolong their lives. So check the cat foods for their nutrition list, usually found in the guaranteed analysis.
Free of Poor-Quality and Artificial Ingredients, and Food Allergens
Stay away from unhealthy food components in cat foods such as artificial preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, and artificial preservatives, and also low-quality ingredients like unnamed animal ingredients, cheap grains and GMOs.
These can induce health issues in sensitive cats. If your senior cat has food allergies and intolerances, make sure her cat foods don’t have any of these food allergens in the ingredients list.
Fresh Foods – A Healthy Alternative
If your budget for cat food allows it, you may want to try some fresh food options, which are healthier in the sense that they use fresh and natural ingredients, and are minimally processed. There are some fresh cat foods available online.
The only drawbacks are that these cat foods are typically more expensive than commercial pet foods, and they may lack the crunchy texture of kibbles that help clean teeth. One great fresh food option is Nom Nom Fresh Food, which offers a Chicken Cuisine recipe for cats.
Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend
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Iams ProActive Health Adult Hairball Care
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Hill's Science Diet Adult Oral Care
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I and Love and You Oh My Cod
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Sheba Perfect Portions Tender Whitefish & Tuna Entree
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Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes
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- Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend
- Iams ProActive Health Adult Hairball Care
- Hill's Science Diet Adult Oral Care
- I and Love and You Oh My Cod
- Sheba Perfect Portions Tender Whitefish & Tuna Entree
- Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes
Our Choices For The Best Cat Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth
1. Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend with Real Salmon
First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Rice Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Beef Fat Naturally Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols
Our top pick for the best dry cat food for older cats with bad teeth is Purina ONE Tender Selects Blend because its crunchy texture is formulated specifically to aid in the dental health of cats, especially senior cats. It is designed to scour tartar from your cat’s teeth to keep it from accumulating.
This veterinarian-approved recipe can be classified as soft dry cat food as it combines crunchy bites with tender morsels, which are gentle on cats' teeth and gums.
Real salmon, a novel and premium animal protein, is the first ingredient in this high-quality cat food, packing a wealthy protein source of 34% minimum for lean muscle mass to make your senior cat strong.
This affordable cat food is nonetheless teeming with essential vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids for total health. That fat content is moderate at 13% minimum but the fiber load is low at just 2%.
Over 600 reviewers at Chewy.com gave this best cat food formula a high 4.6 out of 5 stars average, with a magnificent acceptance rate of 95%. Most cat lovers saw vast improvements in their kitty’s fur, shinier they say.
Some also noted more vigor in their older cats, and others thought the blend of soft morsels and crunchy bites are excellent for their old cat with bad teeth.
Only 10% of respondents were not impressed, with more than a few noting that there are fewer tender morsels in the new formula, and some finding the kibble too crumbly.
- Real salmon is the first ingredient
- Fun-shaped kibbles
- Crunchy on the outside and tender centers
- Balanced nutrition with essential fatty acids
- Budget friendly
- Too crumbly for some
- New formula reportedly with fewer tender morsels than before
Also Read: Purina ONE Cat Food Reviews
2. Iams ProActive Health Adult Hairball Care
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Corn Grits, Corn Gluten Meal
Also deserving to be mentioned as top dry cat food for older cats with bad teeth is Iams ProActive Health Hairball Care formula, which is also a very popular brand among cat owners.
Although this recipe is intended to minimize hairballs in cats, its features make it suitable as cat food for dental issues too.
First of all, this dry food is high in protein load at 32% minimum, mostly from real chicken. It’s also rich in fiber content at 8.5%, which can help in digestion and dental health. The fat supply is moderate at 14% minimum.
Enriched with essential nutrients such as omega fatty acids, taurine, and L-carnitine for a healthy cat’s skin, coat, heart, and metabolism, this dry cat food can boast balanced nutrition for good overall health.
Like our top dry cat food pick, this formula received a 4.6 out of 5 stars average grade from 349 respondents at Chewy.com, with a whopping 97% acceptance rate.
Most of the reviewers were highly satisfied with the reduced hairball in their kitties, and some thought it helped keep a healthy weight in their older cat. Some naysayers didn’t think it helped lessen the hairball.
- Enriched with L-carnitine
- Nutrient-rich recipe
- Helps reduce plaque buildup
- Protein sources are chicken and salmon
- Contains artificial colors
- Not ideal for kitties with food sensitivities
Also Read: IAMS Cat Food Review
3. Hill's Science Diet Adult Oral Care
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Brown Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Fat, Powdered Cellulose
Surely one of the best options for dry cat food for older cats with bad teeth is a formula that’s specially made for this purpose – Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care Formula.
Known as a premium pet food maker, Hill’s Science Diet features this suitable cat food for older cats with bad teeth problems that’s clinically tested to lessen tartar and plaque buildup in cats.
The special formula has a unique interlocking fiber technology that not only helps to keep a cat’s teeth clean but also freshens breath.
Proudly made in the USA, this best cat food option for a cat’s bad teeth problems has real chicken as the first ingredient, which is a highly digestible animal protein, plus brown rice and chicken meal, and antioxidant-rich whole foods like apples, carrots, broccoli, and cranberries.
The minimum crude protein mass is a generous 29%, with 17.5% fat, and a high 10% fiber load. The outstanding formula is devoid of any artificial preservatives and artificial flavors or colors.
Also, a widely known dry cat food, Hill’s Oral Care garnered a 4.2 out of 5 stars average rating from close to 400 Chewy customers, with an 86% acceptance rate.
Almost 300 reviewers gave this dry food the thumbs up, citing amazing results in their cat’s teeth, including alleviation of gingivitis and gum disease, tartar control, and fresher breath. But 20% of the reviewers were less enthusiastic, with a major common complaint – the kibble is too large.
- High in protein and fiber
- Specially formulated for a cat’s dental health
- No artificial additives and poor-quality ingredients
- Kibbles can be a bit too large
Also Read: Hill's Science Diet Cat Food Review
4. I and Love and You Oh My Cod Paté
First 5 Ingredients: Cod, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Fish Broth, Spinach
This gluten-free and grain-free wet food offers absolutely high-quality ingredients led by real cod, chicken, and chicken liver as main animal protein sources, plus fish broth, spinach, cranberries, apples, and sweet potatoes for complete nutrition that your kitties will surely love.
Salmon oil is the main source of omega fatty acids in this soft food for healthy skin and coats in adult cats. This delicious soft cat food recipe provides senior cats with a high 10% minimum crude protein, with moderate fat content of 4%.
And to solidify its claim as among the best cat foods for your old cat, this grain-free formula is free of artificial additives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.
This choice wet cat food for older cats accumulated an average 4.5 out of 5 stars rating from over 100 reviewers at Chewy.com, with a 92% acceptance rate.
Like most top cat food choices, this wet cat food received rave reviews from about 85% of its customers, many of them saying their feline friend begs for this soft food.
Many also think this grain-free canned food is affordable. The 15% negative comments were mostly about their finicky cats not loving it too much, and also about an apparent formula change that isn’t as satisfactory as the old formula.
- For all ages
- Cod is the first ingredient
- Healthy and balanced diet, with essential fatty acids
- Reports of a formula change that’s not as good as before
Also Read: I and Love and You Cat Food Review
5. Sheba Perfect Portions Tender Whitefish & Tuna Entree
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Water, Poultry Liver, White Fish, Chicken Broth
Also among the most loved wet cat food options is the Whitefish & Tuna Entree from Sheba, a wonderful choice for older cats with bad teeth. It has a high protein load of 9% minimum, and 5% and 1.5% fat and fiber contents respectively.
Fit for your older cat with bad teeth, this grain-free wet cat food is rich in essential nutrients, including omega fatty acids from fish oil, to support healthy skin and coat. This wet food is also free of artificial flavors and additives.
This tasty pate received over 200 comments on Chewy.com, and an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars, with a 94% acceptance rate. “Love” is the most common word used in the reviews.
Cat owners say their feline kids always looked forward to mealtime with this grain-free soft food. And they also love the price. There were also a few that said their toothless cat comfortably chewed down the soft food.
However, there are also cat parents that said their fussy cats turned their noses up, plus a lot of complaints about the packaging being too small and difficult to open.
- High palatability
- Grain free, gluten free
- Break apart, peel packaging
- Soft, easy to chew even for toothless cats
- Reports about the packaging being too hard to open
Also Read: Sheba Cat Food Reviews
6. Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes (Variety Pack)
First 5 Ingredients:
Beef Dinner: Beef, Meat Broth, Liver, Fish, Meat By-Products
Chicken Dinner: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Liver, Meat By-Products, Fish
Turkey & Giblets Dinner: Turkey, Liver, Meat By-Products, Turkey Broth, Poultry Giblets
Guaranteed Analysis (Turkey):
Let’s not forget about Tiny Tiger Pate Beef & Poultry Recipes. This high-quality cat food is undoubtedly one of the most popular choices among cat lovers as wet canned food for their senior cats.
The variety pack also features three delicious recipes – beef dinner, chicken dinner, and turkey and giblets dinner – which are all made of high-quality ingredients and augmented with essential vitamins and minerals suitable for your old cat pal.
Our favorite is the beef recipe, which boasts 11% minimum crude protein and 4% minimum crude fat contents. Its consistency is also convenient for elderly cats with teeth problems.
Did we mention that this grain-free cat food is highly popular? More than 1,200 customers in Chewy.com reviewed this pate and gave it an average grade of 3.9 out of 5 stars, with 81% giving it the thumbs-up. About 70% of respondents generally thought this canned wet food is cat-approved.
The price is quite friendly too. Some cat owners also find the pate easy on their senior cats with dental problems.
But the 30% had other things to say like their picky kitties not being a fan, horrible smell, and the cans being too small. A few also mentioned hard bits in the pate.
- Soft and easy to chew for older cats
- Zero grains, corn, wheat, soy or carrageenan
- Variety pack with 3 recipes – perfect for kitties that prefer a rotational diet
- Odor may be a bit strong
Also Read: Tiny Tiger Cat Food Review
Recommended Treats & Supplement
Greenies Feline Catnip
First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Ground Wheat, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry Fat
Of course, we shouldn’t forget about the treats for our beloved pets, especially our precious elderly cats. There are indeed hundreds of awesome cat treats in the market today.
But we’ve picked one that’s great for older cats with bad teeth and that’s none other than Greenies Feline Catnip Flavor – an excellent choice for dental treats.
This crunchy bite is formulated to help keep a cat’s teeth clean and healthy, curtail tartar buildup, and freshen breath. It has real dried catnip that most cats go nuts about. But that’s not all.
These low-calorie treats are also filled with vital nutrients for overall health that should serve your older cat well.
It also has a rich load of protein at 27% minimum, mostly from a quality chicken meal. It’s also high in fiber content at 10%, with a moderate-fat mass of 12%.
If you’re not convinced that this product is one of the best for your purring pal, check out the reviews at Chewy.com: 1658 reviewers giving this dental treats brand an impressive 4.7 out of 5 stars average grade, and an acceptance rate of 97%!
Many cat parents responded positively to these dental treats, citing that their cats were addicted to the catnip-flavored bites.
Some also claimed their kitties have fresher breaths now. But our favorite comment was about two senior cats that loved them so much that their human scattered the treats around the house so they’d get some exercise.
Only approximately 7% of the reviews were unfavorable, with some complaints about the treats being too hard. Some also thought the tub in the packaging was weak.
- Contains real catnip
- Designed for dental health
- Protein load is 27% minimum – suitable for older cats
- Issues with the packaging tub
- Some customers find the treats too hard
VetriScience Perio Support Powder Dental Supplement
First 5 Ingredients: Natural Zeolites (500 mg), Cranberry Extract (25 mg), Yucca Schidigera Extract (7 mg), Taurine (1.25 mg), Zinc (as Zn Ascorbate)
It can be highly challenging to brush your cat’s teeth. This dental supplement can help limit dental issues in your feline friend when sometimes you get lazy to brush her teeth. In powder form, this supplement is easy to use – just sprinkle over the cat’s wet or dry food.
This supplement is formulated to prevent tartar buildup and plaque formation with the help of natural zeolites, plus probiotics to fight bar breath-causing bacteria. It’s also quite tasty.
265 reviewers gave this best supplement for older cats with bad teeth an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars, with an 88% acceptance rate.
Over 200 reviewers were happy with the results in their cats and dogs, most of them thrilled particularly with the improvement in their pet’s breath, with quite a few saying the bad breath is gone.
Some also said the tartar and plaque situation has also improved. But while there are also some that said they didn’t find any changes in their pets’ dental issues, they were mostly critical about how the supplement makes the meals unenticing. Some also find the product too pricey.
- Easy to use (just sprinkle)
- Natural ingredients meant for dental health
- Numerous reports of improvement in breath
- Reports of the powder affecting the food’s palatability
About A Cat’s Dental Health
Believe it or not, up to 90% of cats above the age of four years old suffer from dental problems. Some are more serious.
Diseases of the teeth and gums are common in cats. Studies report that between 50 and 90% of cats older than four years of age suffer from some form of dental disease, but fortunately, the most common forms of these diseases are largely preventable or treatable with appropriate preventive dental care and monitoring.
What Cat Parents Should Know About A Cat’s Teeth Problems
Most cats are affected by dental problems, typically when they reach the age of four. Owners don’t usually see this because cats don’t usually show signs of discomfort in their mouths.
Dental issues gradually develop and worsen over time so cats learn to live with the pain and discomfort. This is why a semi-annual visit to the vet is essential for oral and dental health in cats.
Common Dental Problems In Cats
Adult cats develop various dental problems that cause much pain and discomfort. An aging cat normally has more than just one dental disorder, which eventually leads to losing teeth. Many feral senior cats have very few or no teeth due to the lack of dental care and maintenance.
A toothless cat struggles to eat especially when the cat eats hard dry food. As a result, the cat loses weight and also much of the needed nutrition. This then leads to more serious illnesses.
Here are some of the more common dental problems in cats:
- Tooth Resorption and Loss
- Tooth Abscess
- Plaque build-up
- Periodontal disease
- Mouth sores and ulcers
- Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORL)
- Kidney, liver, and heart disease
The most common feline dental diseases are gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption. Gingivitis develops when plaque buildup, which leads to tartar buildup, attracts bacteria in the gums surrounding the teeth. The gums become swollen, and at times bleeding.
When not treated, the gingivitis worsens and leads to periodontitis, which weakens the gums and teeth, often resulting in teeth loss.
Tooth resorption is when the tooth structure is damaged from the inside leading to teeth loss. It may or may not be associated with gingivitis. But it’s said to be the most common cause of teeth loss in cats.
Regular brushing of teeth can prevent plaque buildup and other dental problems in cats. But you must use a vet-recommended toothpaste.
Human toothpaste has substances that may be toxic to pets. If the cat has severe gingivitis, brushing would be extremely painful. In this case, let the vet handle it.
Gingivitis can be treated by medication and antibiotics. But in severe cases, teeth removal may have to be done.
Common Symptoms of Dental Problems In Cats
As mentioned earlier, it’s not easy to spot teeth problems in cats because cats hardly express the discomfort. Severe bad breath can be a sign of a potential oral issue that owners can easily tell.
To help you check for common dental issues, you may observe signs of the following:
- Loss of Appetite
- Struggling to eat, change in eating habits
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Broken or missing teeth
- Loose teeth
- Pawing at the mouth
- Blood in saliva
- Lesions in mouth
Any of these symptoms must be checked by the vet to prevent aggravation.
Also Read: Best Cat Foods for 2024
How To Care For Your Cat’s Oral Health
A senior cat saddled with dental problems will have difficulty eating, which could shorten her life. This is why pet owners must do the right things to prevent this from happening, whether to older cats or younger cats. If you have younger cats, start taking care of their teeth.
Here are some tips for taking care of your cat’s dental and oral health:
- Feed a healthy diet with balanced and complete nutrition.
- Brush your cats’ teeth regularly. Introduce brushing at a young age.
- Give your cats supplements for extra nutrition.
- Dry cat food helps in reducing plaque buildup. If your cat has little teeth, mix with wet food for lighter digestion.
- Observe your cats for signs of dental diseases.
- Visit the vet regularly, at least 2x a year, but more often for senior cats.
Don’t underestimate dental diseases as these can quickly lead to more serious health problems. More than ever, your older cats need better care and more attention from you. Help them live their remaining days happily.
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