How often do you brush your cat’s teeth?


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It may seem like a strange question, but dental health is just as important for your cat as it is for you. In fact, most cats develop signs of dental disease (primarily gingivitis) by the time they are 2 to 3 years old.

Brushing your cat’s teeth and feeding him dental treats can help, but many cats develop dental problems as they get older anyway. When your cat is a senior, his risk for health problems increase and many senior cats have trouble keeping a healthy body weight. Don’t add dental problems to the list!

In this article, we’ll talk about dental problems in senior cats and what you can do to keep your cat’s teeth healthy. You’ll also receive our top 10 picks for the best cat food for dental problems in older cats.

5 Things to Know About Dental Problems in Senior Cats

You probably don’t pay a lot of attention to your cat’s teeth except when he’s gnawing on your hand for the fun of it. As a responsible cat owner, however, dental health should be a concern and it is your job to make sure your cat’s teeth stay healthy as he gets older.

Here are 5 things you should know about dental problems in senior cats:

  1. Good nutrition is the foundation for healthy teeth. Your cat’s health and wellness are closely linked to the quality of his diet. Balanced nutrition is the foundation for total-body health which includes dental health, so make sure your cat’s diet provides for his nutritional needs.
  2. You need to brush your cat’s teeth like you brush your own. It may sound silly to brush a cat’s teeth, but it is the best way to prevent periodontal disease. Bacteria in your cat’s mouth can colonize the tooth’s surface in as little as 24 to 36 hours, so regular brushing is essential.
  3. There are several different stages of gum disease. The first stage is called gingivitis and is reversible with a professional cleaning and routine dental care at home. If the disease progresses too much further, however, it can lead to permanent damage.
  4. Dry food can help keep your cat’s teeth clean. Wet food may be more palatable for senior cats and easier to chew, but it can also contribute to dental problems if it gets stuck in your cat’s teeth. The act of chewing dry food helps scrape plaque and tartar off your cat’s teeth.
  5. Untreated dental problems can lead to weight loss. Many older cats tend to eat less as they age, but dental problems can make it difficult or painful to eat which may lead to weight loss.

Understanding the basics of dental problems in cats can help you avoid these problems for your own cat. Things get more difficult as your cat ages, of course, but there are still things you can do to prevent him from developing severe dental problems. Keep reading to learn some simple tips for keeping your older cat’s teeth healthy and clean.

Tips for Keeping Your Older Cat’s Teeth Healthy

Dental care is something you should start when your cat is a kitten because things can get out of control rather quickly. As your cat eats, some of the food may get suck between his teeth where it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. If you don’t brush your cat’s teeth, that bacteria can start to produce tartar which hardens into plaque over time. Once that happens, it becomes difficult to remove and can spread under the gumline, causing inflammation and bone damage.

Brushing your cat’s teeth as often as possible is the key to keeping his teeth clean and healthy, but there are other things you can do as well. Here are some tips for keeping your older cat’s teeth clean:

  • Feed your cat a healthy and balanced diet. A healthy and balanced diet is the key to dental health as well as oral health.
  • Brush your cat’s teeth as often as possible. Many cats don’t like having their teeth touched, so you may have to work up to brushing your cat’s teeth but, once you do, try to do it at least a few times a week to keep them clean.
  • Have regular check-ups with your veterinarian. You should be taking your cat to see the vet every 6 to 12 months anyway, but make sure your veterinarian performs and oral exam as well to make sure your cat’s gums are not inflamed and to check for other signs of dental disease.
  • Give your cat dental treats. Dental treats for pets are usually crunchy treats that help scrape tartar off of the cat’s teeth and freshen the breath.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of dental disease. Even as you take steps to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy, keep an eye out for signs of dental disease such as red and inflamed gums, bad breath, bleeding gums, and changes in eating habits.

In addition to these simple tips, you should also consider having your cat’s teeth professionally cleaned once a year if he’s prone to developing dental problems. A dental cleaning for cats is similar to one for humans, but the procedure is more complex because it typically requires anesthesia. Your cat will be put under general anesthesia and may have x-rays taken to make sure the gum disease hasn’t moved under the gums and into the root of the tooth. If it has, your veterinarian may recommend removing damaged teeth to prevent the damage from spreading into the bone and to relieve discomfort.

Most commercial cat foods for senior cats are designed with dental health in mind, so you may not need to choose a formula specifically made for bad teeth. You should, however, consider switching your cat to a senior formula as he gets older. Keep reading to learn more about what to look for in a senior cat food.

What to Look for in Senior Cat Food

As your cat starts to get older, his metabolism may slow down, and he might become less active. Just because he is burning fewer calories, however, doesn’t mean that his requirements for balanced nutrition change – older cats still need a healthy blend of protein, fat, and essential nutrients in their diet to stay healthy.

Though your cat’s basic nutritional needs won’t change with age, the composition of his diet should be adjusted as he gets older. For example, he may need fewer calories if he becomes less active and that might mean reducing the fat content of his diet. Older cats may also need more protein than younger cats to help make sure they maintain lean muscle mass.

Here are some other things to look for in senior cat food:

  • Premium animal proteins. All cats require a minimum of 26% protein in their diet but, because they are obligate carnivores, more protein is always better. High-protein cat food is also important to help senior cats maintain muscle mass and, for skinny cats, to gain weight.
  • Low-to-moderate fat content. Older cats tend to be less active than younger cats, so controlling the fat content in your senior cat’s diet can help you make sure he’s not taking in too many extra calories. He still needs a minimum of 9%, but the ideal range is around 12% to 15%
  • Rich in fiber and moisture. Dehydration is a common problem for older cats, so choosing a cat food high in moisture is important. A diet rich in moisture and fiber is also important for healthy and regular digestion which is also linked to your cat’s ability to absorb essential nutrients.
  • Highly digestible ingredients. Many older cats develop food allergies and sensitivities, so choose a senior cat food made with all-natural, easily digestible ingredients.
  • Beneficial supplements. Vitamin and mineral supplements are a staple in commercial cat foods to ensure optimal nutritional balance. It doesn’t hurt, however, to include fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources of key nutrients and chelated minerals offer high bioavailability.
  • No artificial additives. Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives have no place in a high-quality cat food and they are only likely to upset your senior cat’s stomach.

Now that you have a better understanding of your senior cat’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for senior cat food. Keep reading to see our top picks for the best top rated senior cat food recipes on the market.

best cat food for cats with bad teeth

The Top 8 Best Cat Foods for Older Cats with Bad Teeth Problems

The best cat food for dental problems in senior cats is one that provides for your cat’s nutritional needs while also helping keep his teeth clean. For the most part, this means a dry cat food but cats with severe dental problems who have difficulty chewing may still require wet food. Regardless what type of food you choose, make sure it is rich in protein with low-to-moderate fat content, and free from artificial additives. Here are our top picks for the best cat food for older cats with bad teeth:

NomNomNow Fresh Food Delivery

Our Top Pick for the Best Cat Food Overall for Older Cats with Bad Teeth: If you’re looking for the best cat food for older cats with teeth problems, fresh food provides the ideal combination of quality nutrition and palatability. Fresh food is at the top of the pack when it comes to nutritional integrity and it is also easy for cats with dental problems to chew and digest. NomNomNow is a fresh food delivery service for pets that sends freshly prepared, pre-portioned meals to your door on a monthly basis. You simply create a profile for your cat online and choose from two recipes. You’ll then receive meals that are catered specifically to your cat’s calorie needs to help him achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. Because the formulas are prepared fresh and sent right to your door, there is no need for artificial preservatives – you simply refrigerate or freeze the food to keep it fresh and feed your cat as you normally would. It may cost more than dry food, but the price is comparable to high-quality canned food which you may already be feeding your cat.

  • Pros: High nutritional quality and integrity, prepared and shipped fresh, high in protein and moisture, all-natural ingredients, shipped right to your door, perfectly portioned for your pet
  • Cons: Only two recipes to choose from (chicken or fish), expensive to feed as a staple diet

American Journey Pate Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Cat Food

Our Top Pick for the Best Affordable Cat Food for Older Cats: Though this recipe is not specifically formulated for senior cats, it still provides high-quality nutrition at an affordable price point. This American Journey Pate Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Cat Food features a smooth pate that is easy for senior cats to chew and rich in real salmon flavor. Salmon is an excellent source of complete animal protein as well as essential fatty acids to maintain your cat’s skin and coat health as he ages. This recipe is grain-free and made with only fresh, high-quality ingredients including blueberries and cranberries to deliver a hefty dose of natural nutrition. It is also supplemented with chelated minerals and vitamin supplements to ensure nutritional balance with plenty of fiber for healthy digestion. Overall, this recipe provides 45% protein measured as dry matter with moderate fat content.

  • Pros: Smooth texture easy to chew, real salmon as first ingredient, rich in moisture and protein, fresh berries, supplemental fiber, chelated minerals, moderate fat content
  • Cons: Not specifically for senior cats, contains some chicken ingredients (some cats may be sensitive)

Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Mature Dry Cat Food

Our Top Pick for the Most Popular Cat Food for Older Cats: If you aren’t sure what to feed your senior cat, this Blue Buffalo Healthy Aging Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Mature Dry Cat Food is a popular choice. This recipe offers holistic, natural nutrition for older cats and is supplemented with LifeSource Bits to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. With fresh chicken as the main ingredient, this formula is rich in protein as well as l-carnitine to support lean muscle mass and healthy bodyweight. It contains an ideal blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, plus taurine for heart health and healthy vision. This formula is made with digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal which are also rich sources of dietary fiber to support healthy digestion. Overall, this formula provides 32% protein, just 15% fat, and under 400 calories per cup. You’ll also be glad to know it contains probiotics and chelated minerals.

  • Pros: Formulated for senior cats, fresh chicken as main ingredient, digestible carbohydrates, rich in fiber, ideal blend of omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotics, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Not a grain-free recipe (some cats may be sensitive), contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Nulo Freestyle Chicken & Cod Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten Food

Our Top Pick for the Best High Calorie Cat Food for Senior Cats: Many cats have trouble maintaining a healthy body weight as they get older. If your cat needs to gain weight or has trouble maintaining a healthy weight, this Nulo Freestyle Chicken & Cod Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat & Kitten food is one of the best options in high calorie cat food for senior cats. This recipe features several premium sources of animal protein including fresh chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, and fresh cod. It is naturally grain-free for easy digestibility and contains plenty of fiber as well. Overall, it provides 40% protein with 20% fat and a whopping 486 calories per cup. You’ll also be glad to know that it contains natural sources for key vitamins and minerals including dried cranberries and sweet potatoes, though it also contains chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption. This recipe is also supplemented with probiotics for healthy digestion and to ensure your cat gets the nutrients he needs.

  • Pros: Formulated for adults and kittens, high in protein and fat, several premium animal proteins, grain-free for digestibility, plenty of fiber, chelated minerals, probiotic supplements, 486 calories/cup
  • Cons: Not specifically formulated for senior cats, expensive to feed as a staple diet

Merrick Purrfect Bistro Indoor Senior Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

Our Top Pick for the Best Wet Cat Food for Older Cats: When it comes to cat food for older cats with teeth problems, wet food is often a good choice. Not only is wet food easier to chew for cats with severe dental problems, but it is also higher in moisture and protein content than most dry foods. This Merrick Purrfect Bistro Indoor Senior Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is an excellent choice because it is uniquely formulated for senior cats to provide plenty of protein, moderate fat, and lots of moisture. This recipe features fresh chicken as the main ingredient with grain-free carbohydrates to provide energy as well as dietary fiber. It contains a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support your cat’s skin and coat with beneficial supplements including chelated minerals and essential vitamins for nutritional balance. Plus, as a meat-rich canned food recipe, it should be highly palatable for your senior cat.

  • Pros: Formulated for senior cats, real chicken as first ingredient, grain-free for digestibility, rich in protein and moisture, supplemental fiber, blend of omega fatty acids, chelated minerals
  • Cons: Some cats are sensitive to chicken ingredients, contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Cat Food

Our Top Pick for the Best Senior Cat Food for Sensitive Stomach and Allergies: If your senior cat has a sensitive stomach, a holistic recipe made with all-natural ingredients may be just what you need. This dry cat food features fresh chicken and chicken liver as the main ingredients as well as digestible grain-free carbohydrates and plenty of supplemental fiber. Halo Holistic Chicken & Chicken Liver Recipe Grain-Free Senior Dry Cat Food is rich in omega fatty acids thanks to the inclusion of salmon oil and chicken fat, so you know it will help keep your senior cat’s skin and coat in healthy condition. Overall, it contains a relatively low number of primary ingredients (aside from beneficial supplements) and it offers 30% protein with just 10% fat and only 387 calories per cup. It is very high in fiber (5%) and contains natural sources for key vitamins and minerals like dried cranberries, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Plus, it is loaded with irresistible chicken flavor your cat will love.

  • Pros: Holistic natural recipe, real chicken as main ingredient, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, blend of omega fatty acids, dried fruits and vegetables, plenty of fiber, probiotics and chelated minerals
  • Cons: Some cats may be sensitive to chicken ingredients, contains soy protein

4 More Top-Rated Cat Foods for Older Cats with Bad Teeth Problems

If the recipes reviewed above don’t seem like the perfect fit for your cat, don’t worry! There are plenty of options out there for older cats. Here are four more picks for top-rated senior cat food recipes:

Wysong Optimal Geriatryx Dry Cat Food

If you’re looking for a high-quality cat food formulated specifically for senior cats, give this Wysong Optimal Geriatryx Dry Cat Food a try. This cat food is made especially for older cats to deliver a highly concentrated source of animal protein with the ideal blend of low-glycemic carbohydrates and healthy fats. It features chicken meal as the first ingredient which is a complete protein that provides all of the essential amino acids your cat needs – it is also a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin to support your senior cat’s bones and joints. This recipe contains whole-grain carbohydrates that are low-glycemic and easy to digest as well as supplemental sources of fiber to ensure healthy and regular digestion. It contains 15% crude fat, primarily from chicken fat and flaxseeds to provide a blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. You’ll also find plenty of beneficial supplements in this recipe including dried fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, and probiotics.

  • Pros: Specifically formulated for senior cats, high in protein and fiber, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, dried fruits and vegetables, blend of omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: New formulation is lower in protein, not a grain-free formula (some cats may be sensitive)

Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal Grain-Free Senior Cat Food

The Wellness brand is one of the top pet food manufacturers on the market and their Complete Health line of products offers excellent nutritional quality. This Wellness Complete Health Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal Grain-Free Senior Cat Food is a great choice for your older cat with dental problems because it is formulated specifically for senior cats and also supports dental health. This dry kibble helps clean your cat’s teeth while optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus support healthy teeth and gums. This recipe is made with fresh chicken as the first ingredient with chicken meal for supplemental protein – chicken meal also contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health. This formula provides 39% protein and just 11% fat, so you can rest easy that it will help your cat maintain lean muscle mass and a healthy body weight. It also contains beneficial supplements like probiotics and chelated minerals.

  • Pros: Formulated for senior cats, rich in animal protein, fresh chicken as main ingredient, supports dental health, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and veggies, probiotics
  • Cons: Some cats may be sensitive to chicken ingredients, may be too high in calories for some cats

Now Fresh Grain-Free Senior Weight Management Recipe Dry Cat Food

If your senior cat is struggling with unhealthy weight gain, you might consider switching to this Now Fresh Grain-Free Senior Weight Management Recipe Dry Cat Food. This formula features fresh turkey as a lean source of premium animal protein with digestible grain-free carbohydrates for energy and fiber. It is loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients, as well as chelated minerals and vitamin supplements for nutritional balance. This formula provides a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support your cat’s healthy skin and coat, plus calcium and phosphorus for dental health. It is free from rendered meats and by-products as well as corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives. You couldn’t ask for more!

  • Pros: Formulated for weight loss in senior cats, rich in lean protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits, and vegetables, blend of omega fatty acids, no artificial additives
  • Cons: Some cats are sensitive to chicken ingredients, could be higher in protein

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

This Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food is uniquely designed to support to health of senior cats. Not only is it made with a lean source of premium animal protein, but it contains digestible carbohydrates and a blend of omega fatty acids. This recipe contains essential antioxidants for healthy immunity as well as vitamins and minerals for balanced nutrition. It features fresh chicken as the first ingredient chicken meal as a concentrated source of supplemental protein. In this recipe, you’ll find plenty of dietary fiber to support healthy digestion as well as plenty of calcium and phosphorus for healthy teeth and gums. This recipe is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and essential vitamins for nutritional balance. Overall, it is a protein-rich recipe full of natural flavor that your senior cat will love.

  • Pros: Formulated for senior health, rich in lean animal protein, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, plenty of omega fatty acids, calcium and phosphorus for healthy teeth and gums, rich in fiber
  • Cons: May be too high in fat for some cats, not a grain-free recipe (some cats may be sensitive)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered an old age for a cat? – Generally speaking, cats tend to live upwards of 10 years, with many reaching the age of 15 to 20. This being the case, most cats are considered seniors when they reach 8 years of age. This may be surprising, considering the fact that this is only about halfway through the cat’s expected lifespan, but you need to remember that your cat goes through changes in biology throughout the course of his life. His metabolism will slow down as he ages, and those changes start to become noticeable around age 8.

  • Do older cats need different food? – Older cats have the same basic nutritional requirements as younger cats, aside from kittens of course. All cats require a minimum of 9% fat and 26% protein in their diets. These are minimums, of course, and it is important to remember that more protein is almost always better for an obligate carnivore like your cat. Though your cat’s minimum nutritional needs do not change, his metabolism may slow down, and he may struggle with either weight gain or weight loss. These are the factors that determine whether your senior cat needs different food. There is no one-size-fits-all senior cat food formula because each cat ages differently, so talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s changing needs.
  • How often should I feed my senior cat? – For the most part, adult cats do well with two meals per day and the same is true for most senior cats. If your senior cat is starting to lose an unhealthy amount of weight, however, you might want to change your feeding schedule to include an extra meal. Some senior cats also do well with free feeding if they are more prone to losing weight than to gaining it.
  • How much should I feed my senior cat? – The amount you feed your senior cat depends on his age and bodyweight. The best thing to do is start with a senior formula and follow the feeding recommendations on the package according to your cat’s weight. If your cat has a tendency toward weight gain, you might reduce his daily portion by a little bit. If your senior cat needs to gain weight, consider feeding him the recommended feeding amount for his ideal weight rather than his current weight. You can also just increase his feeding by about 20%.
  • How much should I feed my senior cat? – The amount you feed your senior cat depends on his age and bodyweight. The best thing to do is start with a senior formula and follow the feeding recommendations on the package according to your cat’s weight. If your cat has a tendency toward weight gain, you might reduce his daily portion by a little bit. If your senior cat needs to gain weight, consider feeding him the recommended feeding amount for his ideal weight rather than his current weight. You can also just increase his feeding by about 20%.

Just because your cat is getting older doesn’t mean his need for high-quality nutrition changes. He may need more protein to help him maintain lean muscle and less fat for weight management, but his basic nutritional needs remain the same. One other factor to consider is his dental health, as many senior cats develop bad teeth or have trouble chewing.

If your senior cat has dental problems, you’ll need to be particularly mindful of choosing the right cat food. If you’re not sure where to look, try one of the best cat foods for older cats with bad teeth problems we’ve reviewed above.

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