8 Best Cat Foods for Older Cats with Bad Teeth in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks


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These days, it’s not unusual for a cat to reach 20 years old, or even older, but one of the downsides to looking after an elderly cat is that with increasing age, we see an increasing number of health problems. But the more proactive we are, the more enjoyable our cat’s twilight years will be.

With that said, let’s check out some reviews of the best cat foods for older cats that can help take care of their teeth and protect them from dental discomfort and disease.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024

The 8 Best Cat Foods for Older Cats With Bad Teeth

1. Smalls Fresh Food Subscription – Best Overall

smalls cat foodsmalls cat food

Calories 200 kcal
Protein 15%
Fat 8%
Fiber 5%

A relatively new concept in the world of pet food, fresh food subscriptions like Smalls strike the ideal balance between providing your cat with fresh, preservative-free, protein-packed ingredients without the risks associated with raw feeding. Unlike canned food or dry kibble, which undergo ultraheat or pressurized treatments and often contain artificial preservatives, the food at Smalls is lightly cooked then frozen in individual portions and is ready to be delivered straight to your door. We particularly like the range of flavors Smalls has to offer, and the short list of ingredients means that even cats with food allergies or sensitivities are likely to find one or more options to suit them.

The balance of ingredients makes Smalls a suitable option for all feline life stages and is suitable for most health conditions. However, it has not been established as an appropriate diet for cats with renal disease. As always, you should talk to your vet if you have any concerns about your cat’s health and the suitability of this food.

The texture is soft but not overly watery or mushy, so this fresh food will be ideal for cats that have fewer teeth or oral discomfort, and the high quality of the food ensures that every mouthful provides your older cat with plenty of calories, making it our choice for the best overall cat food for older cats with bad teeth.

Pros

  • High-quality ingredients
  • Subscription delivered straight to your door
  • Can be kept frozen for up to 12 months
  • Benefits of raw feeding without the risks
  • Highly palatable

2. Purina Pro Plan Senior Adult 7+ Seafood Favorites Pate – Budget Buy

Purina Pro Plan Grain Free Senior Wet Cat FoodPurina Pro Plan Grain Free Senior Wet Cat Food

Calories 107 kcal
Protein 10%
Fat 7%
Fiber 5%
Moisture 78%

For quite an inexpensive senior cat food option, the Purina Pro Plan Senior Pate rates quite highly in terms of ingredient quality and nutritional value. This is a good option for cats that are perhaps struggling to keep up their calorie intake due to a sore mouth or lack of teeth. It comes in a seafood variety pack or a beef & poultry pack (but all flavors can be purchased individually). However, it does contain artificial colors and flavors, as well as meat by-products. Still, because it is so affordable, it’s our pick for the best cat food for older cats with bad teeth for the money.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Higher in calories/fat, which older cats can benefit from
  • Palatable formula
  • Gentle on sensitive teeth

Cons

  • Contains artificial flavors and colors
  • Contains meat by-products

3. Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care Chicken Flavor

Hill's Prescription Diet t_d Dental CareHill's Prescription Diet t_d Dental Care

Calories 268 kcal
Protein 30%
Fat 14%
Fiber 5%

Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care is one of the top foods recommended by vets for addressing and preventing dental disease in cats, and with good reason. Most dry kibble isn’t the right size, texture, or formulation to have any significant impact on your cat’s dental health, but Hills t/d contains ingredients formulated to inhibit oral bacterial growth and plaque formation and is specifically designed to cause manual cleaning of teeth through chewing. Because it is so highly recommended and trusted, it is one of the best products money can buy.

Most cats find this kibble very tasty, although there is only one flavor, but due to their high fat content, we recommend only offering your cat a small sprinkling of t/d as part of their daily diet.

Pros

  • Kibble size helps reduce tartar build-up
  • Highly palatable
  • Suitable for cats with urinary tract issues (crystals, FLUTD)
  • Hands-off approach to cleaning teeth

Cons

  • High in fat
  • Only available in chicken flavor

4. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Dental Dry Cat Food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Dental Dry Cat Food

Calories 294 kcal
Protein 27%
Fat 13%
Fiber 7%

Very similar in presentation and benefits to the Hills t/d, Royal Canin Dental Dry Food is a slightly cheaper option. The kibble is a little bit smaller than that of the t/d, and doesn’t have the same oily feel, which some cats prefer. However, it is high in fat, which could lead to weight gain if you’re not careful. Plus, it’s only available in chicken flavor.

Pros

  • Kibble size and ingredients help to reduce tartar build-up
  • Suitable for cats with urinary tract issues (crystals, FLUTD)
  • Hands-off approach to cleaning teeth
  • Affordable

Cons

  • High in fat
  • Only available in chicken flavor
  • Highly processed food

5. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DH Dental Health Dry Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets DH Dental Health Dry Cat Food

Calories 312 kcal
Protein 34%
Fat 12%
Fiber 6%

This is a more budget-friendly alternative to the Hills and Royal Canin dental food options. It still offers many of the beneficial features of the previous two products, but as you would expect from a cheaper product, the quality of the ingredients isn’t quite as good. Still, the kibble size is ideal and helps to reduce tartar, and it doesn’t take much to see the benefits. However, this is another option that is high in fat and highly processed.

Pros

  • Kibble size helps to reduce tartar build-up
  • A little goes a long way
  • Hand-off approach to dental cleaning
  • Affordable

Cons

  • High in fat
  • No good for cats with no, few, or painful teeth
  • Lower-quality ingredients
  • Highly processed

6. American Journey Pate Senior Wet Cat Food

American Journey Pate Senior Wet Cat FoodAmerican Journey Pate Senior Wet Cat Food

Calories 92–98 kcal
Protein 9%
Fat 5%
Fiber 2%

This senior wet food from American Journey won’t address the root problems of your cat’s bad teeth, but it does provide a palatable, easy-to-eat formula for cats that aren’t eating well due to dental problems or for those with minimal teeth. Sometimes, we need to get our cats feeling stronger before putting them under a general anesthetic, and this food is a great way to do it. It contains high-quality protein ingredients with no preservatives or fillers, and its major standout feature is the inclusion of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.

With that said, it is lower in calories, protein, and fat. Also, all of the flavors contain chicken, so it won’t be suitable for those with a chicken allergy or intolerance.

Pros

  • Soft texture for those with painful teeth
  • No filler ingredients or preservatives
  • Affordable
  • Potentially beneficial for overweight cats

Cons

  • Low in calorie/protein/fat
  • All flavors contain some chicken
  • Doesn’t directly help with root of teeth problems

7. Bundle: Tiny Tiger Pate Salmon Canned Food + Lickables Senior Formula Tuna & Chicken Recipe Bisque Cat Treat & Topper

Tiny Tiger Pate Salmon Canned Food + Lickables

Lickables Treat & Topper

Calories 34 kcal
Protein 8%
Fat 1%
Fiber 1%

Pate Canned Food

Calories 90 kcal
Protein 11%
Fat 4%
Fiber 5%

Although this bundle from Tiny Tiger doesn’t do a lot in terms of your feline’s dental health, it’s a great option for a senior kitty who isn’t eating well due to tooth pain. By combining a more calorie-dense canned food with a less-nutritious but ultra-tasty soup, this is one way to tempt your cat to eat when their mouth isn’t feeling its best.

With that said, this is a lower-quality food that contains preservatives and additives, so it’s definitely not something that everyone will want to offer their pets. Plus, it isn’t designed specifically for tooth problems.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Adds hydration
  • Gentle on painful teeth

Cons

  • Contains preservatives and additives
  • Not designed for tooth problems

8. Greenies Feline Adult Dental Cat Treats

Variety Pack Dental Cat Treats

Calories Varies
Protein Varies
Fat Varies
Fiber Varies

While we know that this isn’t technically food that can be offered every day, we wanted to include them because they can help older cats with bad teeth. These treats from Greenies are an easy way to get your cat cleaning their own teeth, taking the pressure off you! Greenies have been around since 1996 and have built a reputation for providing healthy treats for cats and dogs that help keep teeth clean, and their formula has become more feline-friendly over the years.

However, to reiterate, these are only treats, so they are not going to take the place of regular cleaning or undo any damage that is already there. Plus, they’re high in calories and all the flavors are based on chicken meal.

Pros

  • Shape encourages chewing to address tartar build-up
  • Can be used as treats or in interactive food dispenser toys
  • Lower in calories than many other treats

Cons

  • Should not be used as a food replacement
  • High in calories
  • All flavors use chicken meal

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Buyer’s Guide: Understanding Bad Teeth in Older Cats

Before even thinking about buying food for your cat’s bat teeth, you first need to check in with your veterinarian and have your pet looked at by a vet if you suspect that something is wrong with their oral health. However, if you’re just shopping for a preventative, crunchy food can certainly help. Still, though, there are other alternatives to keep bad teeth and breath at bay, which starts with truly understanding your cat’s oral health.

woman with a push cart in grocery buying cat food
Image Credit: LADO, Shutterstock

Before You Buy: How Old Is Too Old for a Dental Procedure?

Many people assume that it isn’t safe for an elderly cat to have general anesthesia for a dental procedure, and sometimes, this is true. However, in many cases, it is far riskier to their health and quality of life for them to continue without having a dental procedure, particularly if you have a 14 or 15-year-old cat with bad teeth who may still have a good 3 to 4 years left, as those teeth are only going to get worse!

How suitable a cat is for a dental procedure is not based on their age but on their individual health. An 18-year-old cat may have a far lower anesthetic risk than a 13-year-old if there is a history of heart or kidney problems, for example, so you shouldn’t assume that advanced age makes your cat unsuitable for a dental procedure. And if you’re worried about how your cat might cope if they have to have multiple dental extractions, bear in mind that any teeth that need to be removed are likely to be causing pain and making eating much more difficult, and they will manage much better once they are gone. Just ask Clutch!

While the best treatment for bad teeth is a dental exam, there will be many situations where this isn’t possible, so you’re likely wondering what sort of food you should be feeding your older cat with bad teeth.

Why Does My Cat Have Smelly Breath?

Cat breath is never going to be on the list of the most pleasant odors, but it also shouldn’t be making your eyes water. There are a number of things that can cause feline halitosis, including:

  • Dental disease – disease of the teeth
  • Periodontal disease – infection and disease of the gums
  • Kidney (renal) disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Dehydration

As you can see, smelly breath can mean a number of different things, so a veterinary examination is the most important first step to addressing your cat’s malodorous mouth. Your vet may recommend blood tests to get to the bottom of the problem, and many of these conditions can be successfully managed, particularly when they are diagnosed early.

Dental and periodontal disease isn’t always obvious, especially if your cat is not particularly cooperative when you try to look in their mouth, but some common signs are:

  • Drooling and saliva staining
  • Pawing at the mouth or rubbing face on furniture or carpet
  • Chewing food on one side of the mouth
  • Dropping food
  • Reduced appetite or avoiding certain foods
  • Depression

You might assume that a cat with a painful mouth would avoid dry kibble and prefer soft food and gravy, but this isn’t always the case. If part of the mouth is particularly sore, it can be easier for your cat to pick up kibble and swallow it down without it touching the painful area, whereas wet or mushy food will spread throughout the mouth and cause irritation or pain, so don’t assume that eating dry kibble is a sign of perfect dental health.

veterinarian checks teeth or mouth to a cat
Image Credit: PRESSLAB, Shutterstock

Do Dental Water Additives Work?

Water additives are an appealing, easy option to many pet owners, but the reality is that they are rarely effective, particularly for cats. Many pet owners report that their cats won’t drink the water if it contains a dental additive, and the dilution of the product is unlikely to offer any real improvement to your cat’s dental health. At most, you may notice a transient improvement in their breath, but that is not addressing the underlying problem, only masking it.

If you’re looking for a way to help your cat’s teeth that require minimal exertion, PlaqueOff powder, dental treats, and dental food are your best options.

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Top Tips to Prevent Dental Disease

It’s not always possible to prevent illness or injury, but dental health and hygiene is one area that we can give our cats a head start in; the earlier, the better. Here are some tips and ideas to help keep your cat’s mouth in top shape:

  • Start early – Encourage your kitten and younger cats to enjoy chewy treats to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
  • Regular dental checks – In between vet visits, get your cat used to having their teeth and mouth checked at home so you can spot any changes early.
  • Brushing – Not every cat will be amenable to having their teeth brushed, but if you start from a young age with a delicious tasting toothpaste for cats (never use human toothpaste), you may just find yourself with a cat that looks forward to their regular dental routine.
  • Use dental food as a preventative – Using dental treats and oral care food like those listed above are most effective when used to prevent tartar, not get rid of it, so incorporate these items as regular features of your cat’s diet.
close up person brushing teeth of cat
Image Credit: AlexanderDubrovsky, Shutterstock

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Summing Up

When it comes to your older cat’s dental health, early detection and prevention are the best ways to ensure they remain happy and comfortable, and a dental is almost always the preferable way to deal with bad teeth. Although older cats tend to be the ones in need of dental treatment, you shouldn’t let your cat’s advanced years be a roadblock between them and a pain-free mouth.

The foods on our list of reviews can help your cat deal with problematic teeth in a range of ways, from providing appetite stimulation and soft food for sore mouths and even natural teeth-cleaning through crunching and chewing foods.

Smalls fresh food continues to top our list of favorite foods for its convenient portioning, packaging, and delivery of top-quality food. For those of you looking for ways to get your cat crunching their way to healthier teeth, Hills t/d is a high-quality, palatable, dry food option that we think is well worth the money.

Your cat might be suffering from a case of super stinky breath, so before you switch foods, make an appointment for a check-up with your vet.


Featured Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock





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