image of old cat lying on table

What's the best senior cat food?

Last Updated 26 February 2024

This article is written by Pet Circle Veterinarian Dr Josepha Cox BBiomedSc(Hons), DVM.

Thanks to improved veterinary care and safer living environments, our cats are getting to enjoy much longer lives and many are living well into their late teens, and some even into their 20's. In addition to veterinary care, nutrition plays a vital role in keeping our senior cats healthy. 

Why is it important to choose the right food for your senior cat?

Cats are considered mature around 7 years of age while senior and geriatric cats around 11-12 years of age.  

4 reasons why it's important to choose the right senior cat food:

  1. Nutritional Needs: Ageing causes different physiological processes and this often means changes in nutritional needs. Mature and senior cats tend to have a decreased ability to digest fat and protein and thus benefit from a highly digestible diet. Their energy requirements also are typically lower compared to adult cats but their needs can also increase again once over 13 years of age. 

  2. Age-related conditions: Declines in vision, hearing, cognitive function and mobility can also become apparent in older age. Inclusion of increased levels of antioxidants, omega fats, glucosamine and chondroitin have been shown to be beneficial. Older cats are prone to developing kidney disease so supporting their kidney function by decreasing levels of minerals such as sodium and phosphorus may be helpful. 

  3. Digestive Health: Older cats may experience digestive issues, such as constipation or sensitive stomachs. Senior cat food often includes easily digestible ingredients and added fibre to promote healthy digestion and prevent these issues.

  4. Weight Management: As cats age, they may become less active and more prone to weight gain. Senior cat food can be lower in calories to help prevent obesity, while still providing the necessary nutrients for overall health.


  1. Best for brain health and vitality: HILLS SCIENCE DIET Senior 7 Plus Youthful Vitality Dry Cat Food

  2. Best for overall longevity: PRO PLAN Senior 7 Plus Dry Cat Food

  3. Best quality on a budget: ADVANCE Healthy Ageing Adult Dry Cat Food Chicken With Rice

  4. Best for sensitive stomachs: HILLS SCIENCE DIET Adult 7 Plus Perfect Digestion Dry Cat Food

  5. Best wet food: ROYAL CANIN Ageing 12 Plus Senior Wet Cat Food Pouches Gravy and Jelly

How We Review Our Products

Our Pet Circle Vet Squad comprises 30 vets with over 120 years of collective, independent veterinary expertise. Our Vet team use their health and husbandry knowledge, along with their own personal and clinical experiences to evaluate each product and provide detailed, informative reviews, free of any commercial bias. We then collate this information into our 'best of' recommendations.

HILLS SCIENCE DIET Senior 7 Plus Youthful Vitality Dry Cat Food



  1. Scientifically developed to work with the changing biology of senior cats
  2. A proprietary blend of ingredients supports brain health, interaction, energy & vitality
  3. Easy-to-digest ingredients for healthy digestion
  4. Clinically proven antioxidants, Vitamin C+E, for a healthy immune system
  5. Omega 6 fatty acids and vitamin E to promote healthy, shiny fur
  6. Helps improve senior cat's everyday ability to get up and go


  1. Only available in a chicken based recipe. May not be suited to those who prefer fish based foods.
  2. Only available as a dry food but could be teamed with Science Diet 7+ Senior Ocean fish or Chicken pouches

Predictive biology, also referred to as nutrigenomics, is the study of how nutrition can affect a pet’s gene expression. Although genes cannot be changed, how genes are expressed can be influenced by certain factors, such as nutrition. Hill's has been studying how nutrition impacts pets’ cell function for over a decade and they used this knowledge to formulate Hill’s Science Diet Senior 7+ Vitality.

Research conducted by Hill's found that numerous genes are expressed differently between young and senior pets. These changes in gene expression lead to many of the signs of ageing we are familiar with in older pets, such as a less shiny coat, changes in behaviour and pets slowing down both mentally and physically.

The scientists at Hill's then investigated which ingredients and nutrients had the ability to change the activity of the genes that play a role in ageing. They found that including nutrients and ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, fatty acids and antioxidants showed benefits in ageing pets. This food also contains more classic senior diet nutritional features such as high quality protein and controlled sodium and phosphorus levels.

In a clinical study owners reported that cats fed Hill's Science Diet Senior 7+ Senior Vitality had improved vitality, increased desire for family interactions, improved ability to run and play and softer coats with less matting1.

What our customers say: "Tomas was unwell, lethargic and had no appetite, his coat was coming out in clumps he had stopped grooming himself. Extensive tests showed no ill health, vet advised a change of diet. OMG I could not believe the difference in Tomas. He’s running around like a younger cat, his coat is thick soft shiny with minimal shedding. The difference the food has made to Tomas’s well being is amazing. I have no hesitation in recommending Hills Youth & Vitality."

PRO PLAN Senior 7 Plus Dry Cat Food



  1. Proprietary blend of nutrients clinically proven to extend life span in senior cats by an average of 1 year 
  2. Clinically proven to help maintain body weight 
  3. Live probiotics to support gut health
  4. Clinically proven higher levels of antioxidants for overall, brain and immune health
  5. Available in a variety of bag sizes
  6. Manufactured in Australia


  1. Only available in one flavour (salmon, tuna and chicken)
  2. Only available as a dry food but could be teamed with PRO PLAN Adult 7 Plus Chicken Gravy Wet Food Pouches

Increased oxidative stress is associated with the ageing process and antioxidants such as vitamin E play an important protective role against oxidative damage. In people, increased antioxidant levels are associated with lower risk of chronic illness. In Pro Plan's groundbreaking 9 year study, cat's fed the proprietary ingredients contained in the Senior 7 plus diet had increased levels of the antioxidant vitamin E and this was associated with increased survivability (longer lifespan)2

Ageing cats often also suffer sarcopenia, or age related loss of muscle mass. This not only contributes to weakness and fragility but it is also associated negatively with increased mortality. Therefore maintaining body weight and muscle mass are important factors when considering senior nutrition. Purina Pro Plan's study by Cupp and Kerr2 demonstrated that cats being fed their proprietary formula were better able to maintain their weight compared to eating the other test diets. 

Other factors which are known to decline in senior cats and are also associated with a decrease in lifespan are red blood cell count, percentage of red blood cells (haematocrit) and haemaglobin levels. Cats fed this diet better maintained these parameters and thus also improved their survival in comparison to cats on regular diets3. 

What our vets say: "I recommend ProPlan Senior 7 Plus because its unique blend of antioxidants, essential fatty acids and prebiotic has been scientifically proven to extend the healthy life of mature and senior cats. Made in Australia from real salmon and tuna, your feline friend is sure to love this premium food" - Dr Maree

ADVANCE Healthy Ageing Adult Dry Cat Food Chicken With Rice



  1. Manufactured in Australia
  2. Green lipped mussel to support ageing joints
  3. Nutrients such as DHA and choline to support brain health
  4. Nutrients to support vascular and heart health
  5. Omega 3, 6 and zinc and vitamin A for skin and coat support
  6. No artificial colours, flavours, added soy, wheat, whole corn or beef
  7. Contains Sodium Tripolyphosphate to prevent tartar
  8. Two bag sizes


  1. Only available in a chicken based recipe. May not be suited to those with allergies or who prefer fish based foods

Green lipped mussels (GLM) have become a popular supplement in both pets and people over the last few years. Growing evidence has shown that including them in the diet can benefit mobility in as little as 4-6 weeks4. This is due to GLM containing a variety of joint supporting nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, glycosaminoglycans (chondroitin sulfate) and antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, zinc, copper and selenium. It's believed this combination of nutrients work synergistically together to support joint function and reduce inflammation4,5. Advance healthy ageing contains GLM powder to support mobility in senior cats.

This formula contains seven specially selected nutrients to support heart and vascular health in ageing cats. These nutrients include taurine, arginine, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Cat's cannot synthesize their own taurine and so it is considered an essential amino acid with an important role in heart function. Cats with too little taurine are at risk of developing heart failure. Arginine assists in vascular health and blood circulation regulation. Vitamin E is a well known antioxidant and assists with the proper functioning of blood clotting cells as well as the lining of blood vessels. Calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are essential for proper nerve and muscle function including that of cardiac muscle. 

Statistics show that 80% of cats over the age of three have dental disease, with many pet parents simply unaware that the problem is present. Left untreated, dental disease can be a source of pain and inflammation, impacting on your cat's overall health and well-being. It can even affect organs in the body such as the kidneys, heart and liver which can affect older cats more negatively as older cats are more likely to have concurrent issues such as kidney disease. Advance healthy ageing contains sodium tripolyphosphate; an ingredient which helps to bind calcium in the saliva to help prevent the formation of tartar. 

What our customers say: "Has everything an older cat needs. Sam loves the taste. Doesn't upset his stomach. Really suits an older cat's palate and nutritional/health requirements." 

HILLS SCIENCE DIET Adult 7 Plus Perfect Digestion Dry Cat Food



  1. Contains ActivBiome+, a proprietary blend of pumpkin, whole grains and prebiotics to support gut health
  2. Increased levels of antioxidants to support healthy immune function  
  3. Balanced minerals to support the kidneys and bladder 


  1. Not made in Australia
  2. Only available in one bag size (2.72kg)
  3. Contains grains
  4. No specific ingredients to support mobility

Many cats suffer from "sensitive tummies" and often a dilemma arises when a cat who has been on a sensitive stomach diet suddenly reaches their mature years. It seems a choice has to be made whether to continue their regular sensitive tummy diet, that is not tailored specifically for seniors or to take the risk to move to a senior diet which may result in an upset stomach. Hill's Adult 7 Plus Perfect Digestion solves this predicament with it's special blend of prebiotics to nourish the gut, promote healthy digestion and stool formation combined with age benefiting modifications such as the use of high quality protein to maintain muscle mass, modified mineral levels to support ageing kidneys and increased antioxidants to assist immune and brain health. 

The gut microbiome is the collection of microbes including a mixture of bacteria, viruses and fungi (both good and bad) that live in the gastrointestinal tract. This collection of microorganisms plays a huge role in not only digestive health but other important functions such as immunity, neurological health and overall wellness6. Hill's have been studying the microbiome for more than a decade and through their unique ActiveBiome+ formula have been able to supply the gut with healthy prebiotics to support the growth and maintenance of healthy gut microbes. These good microbes then release beneficial compounds that further support digestive and overall health. ActiveBiome+ also been clinically proven to improve stool formation7. 

Immunosenescence is a recognized phenomenon in ageing people as well as pets. This refers to the dysfunction of the immune system that occurs during the ageing process and includes characteristics such as a decrease in the number of immune fighting (white blood) cells8. Therefore supporting immune health in older cats is essential. It's estimated a whopping 70% of the immune system resides in the gut so nourishing a healthy gut is paramount for healthy immune function. The ActivBiome+ complex as well as increased levels of antioxidants in Hill's Science Diet Adult 7 Plus Perfect Digestion assists in providing the additional immune support ageing cats need.

What our vets say: "Digestion is a key area in any pet's overall health and well-being and this can be especially true for our senior pets. Nearly 3/4 of the immune system is in the gut so it makes sense to want to support healthy digestion for better health and immunity. For senior cats with minor digestive issues, I like recommending Hill's Science Diet 7+ Perfect Digestion Dry Cat Food. This is a premium diet for senior kitties, providing them optimal nutrition and key ingredients for supporting healthy ageing. Plus, it's formulated with a unique fibre technology that nourishes the gut and promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, helping to support your cats' tummies through their advanced years." - Dr Antonella

ROYAL CANIN Ageing 12 Plus Senior Wet Cat Food Pouches



  1. Comes in different textures - jelly and gravy
  2. Omega 3 fatty acids for joint support
  3. Moderate phosphorus content to support kidneys
  4. Formulated to appeal to senior cats
    Provides a source of hydration


  1. Not manufactured in Australia
  2. Flavour - pork/poultry only. No fish selection
  3. No pate option

Wet food is a great option in any cat's diet to add variety and moisture but can be particularly important for senior cats as health issues like arthritis and kidney disease can make them more prone to dehydration. Royal canin Ageing 12 Plus Senior Wet Cat Food Pouches are an excellent addition for seniors to promote hydration. 

Many changes occur in senior cats and a decrease in appetite can be a common finding. This can be due to various reasons including but not limited to dental disease, kidney disease and a loss of senses such as sight and smell. Royal canin ensured this food appealed to senior cats by performing their own palatability trials to determine the exact ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates that senior cats preferred. It's also well known that cats can be fussy so having the ability to choose from a gravy or jelly form can assist with providing options best suited to your cat's preferences. 

This formula also contains increased levels of omega 3 fatty acids to support ageing joints and modified levels of phosphorus to support kidney health. 

What our customers say: "My cat has become a very fussy eater with ageing. She enjoys this wet food and eats it all." 

What to look for in a senior cat food 

High quality protein

Senior cats require a diet rich in high-quality protein to maintain lean muscle mass. Look for foods that list meat or meat meals (dehydrated, ground meat) as the primary/first ingredients in the ingredients list.


Senior cats benefit from a diet rich in antioxidants which help support their immune system, brain health and overall vitality. Look for foods that contain antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C.

Joint support

Look for senior foods which include a high level of joint support ingredients, such as green lipped mussel, omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin.

Coat support

Grooming becomes a particularly difficult task in older feline patients which can result in a dull, unkempt coat. Look for skin supporting nutrients such as omega oils, zinc and vitamin E.

Wet food

Adding wet food to your senior cat's diet can help tempt fussy eaters, be easier and more comfortable to eat for cats with dental issues and also assists hydration, which in turn helps to reduce the risk of urinary crystals/stones and kidney issues. Water intake in senior pets can be lowered if their mobility is reduced due to arthritis or other health conditions, as they are less inclined to make their way to the water bowl for a drink. You can help by making sure that your senior kitty has multiple bowls of fresh water around your home which are easy to access. For more tips, read through How to Increase Your Cat's Water Intake.

Further Reading

Want to know more? Check out some of our other articles:

The Benefits of Feeding Both Wet and Dry Food to Cats

Toxic Food and Household Items for Cats

Fussy Cat Feeding Tips

Cognitive Decline in Cats

Looking After Your Senior Cat


  1. H. Schiefelbein, et. al. Behavior and health in aged cats fed a food with antioxidants, phytonutrients and fatty acids. J Vet Int Med Proceedings Abst NM07:103, 2017. Cupp, C. J., & Kerr, W. W.. Effect of diet and body composition on life span in aging cats.  Nestlé Purina Companion Animal Nutrition Summit, Florida, USA, 2010;36-42.
  2. Cupp, C. J., Kerr, W.W., Jean-Philippe, C., Patil, A. R., & Perez-Camargo, G.. The role of nutritional interventions in the longevity and maintenance of long-term health in aging cats. Int J Appl Res Vet M. 2008; 6(2), 69-81.
  3. Williams I. The Value of Green-lipped Mussel. Improve Veterinary Practice, 2014. Retrieved February 20 2024.
  4. Howie J. Can Green-lipped Mussel Alleviate Joint Concerns in Pets?. DVM 360, 2020. Retrieved February 20 2024.
  5. Hill's Pet Nutrition. Activbiome and Microbiome Technology. Hill's Pet Nutrition, 2024. Retrieved February 20 2024.
  6. Hill's Pet Nutrition. Healthy Digestion Pet Food. Hill's Pet Nutrition, 2024. Retrieved February 20 2024. 
  7. Day M. Ageing, Immunosenescence and Inflammageing in the Dog and Cat. J Comp Pathol. 2010;142(1), 60-69.