Best Cat Foods for Older Cats

5 Best Cat Foods for Older Cats with Kidney Problems

Finding out that your elderly cat has got chronic kidney failure can be incredibly difficult news to get and often comes as a surprise.

Many owners feel that their cats have simply been getting old, and that the slight weight loss, increase in thirst and mild nausea are just par for the course.

Though it’s true that there is no cure for our felines’ renal failure, we can help to both prolong their life and improve their quality of life by feeding them the best cat foods for older cats with kidney problems.

In this article, we’re going to review the following wet cat food for older cats with kidney problems

Studies have consistently shown that feeding a specific diet to cats with kidney disease is one of the most effective treatments available to us.

As a cat’s disease progresses, they are less able to process food in the same way.

Phosphorous can build up and they are unable to utilise proteins as they used to.

This is why kidney diets tend to be lower in protein and phosphorous than the average food.

Importantly, the protein that is contained should be of a high quality, which will prevent unnecessary muscle wasting and reduced mobility.

Another feature of kidney disease is that, over time, a cat begins to lose their appetite and may suffer from bouts of nausea and vomiting.

At times, simply convincing them to eat can be a challenge, which is why it is so vital that kidney food be highly palatable and tempting.

Most kidney food manufacturers have worked hard to ensure that their food smells tempting and tastes fantastic.

Feeding a wet food is often recommended for several reasons.

Cats with kidney disease are at a high risk of dehydration, so the more moisture they consume the better.

Also, many elderly cats have periodontal disease and missing teeth so prefer to eat wet food.

However, not all cats will eat wet food and sometimes dry food is the only way to go.

Owners can always mix dry diets with wet food or with warm water, to increase the moisture content.

Cat Foods for Older Cats with Kidney Problems

The 5 Best Cat Food for Older Cats With Kidney Problems Reviews

1. Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Wet Cat Food

Hill's Prescription Diet k/d Kidney Care Wet Cat Food
Available at Amazon

Probably the most popular prescription food out there for older cats suffering with renal disease, many vets view Hill’s K/D as the best cat food for older cats with kidney problems.

This food has been scientifically formulated to support elderly cats that, not only have failing kidneys, but that also struggle with their mobility.

As around 90% of cats over the age of 12 have some form of osteoarthritis, it is a sensible idea to cater for those affected.

The signs of arthritis in a cat are subtle and often go un-noticed, though undoubtedly cause pain and distress.

As many of the non-steroidal medications recommended for cats with joint pain are contra-indicated in cats suffering with kidney disease, supporting them in other ways is essential.

Hill’s claim that it takes only 28 days to notice the improvement in your cat’s willingness to exercise and run about.

The high quality amino acids contained within this food are easy on the kidneys and still allow for the maintenance of lean muscle, preventing the unwanted weight loss that can be seen in some animals on protein restricted diets.

The reduced levels of phosphorous and sodium contained in this diet help to support both kidney and heart health.

With a special blend of ingredients referred to as an ‘enhanced appetite trigger’ by Hill’s, this food can naturally increase a cat’s appetite and increase the number of calories they consume by a whopping 35%.

We find that cats absolutely love this chicken and vegetable stew flavor, though cats can be particularly fastidious, so if your kitty turns his nose up at this offering don’t despair and simply give one of the other flavours a go.

Remember that you can try to increase the palatability of a wet food by gently warming it up so that the aromas and flavours are released.

2. Royal Canin Renal Support for Cats E

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support E

Royal Canin are a huge name in the veterinary food industry and make a number of the best cat foods for older cats with kidney problems.

The ‘E’ in the name of this food stands for ‘Enticing’ and it is composed of an irresistible meaty pâté.

Royal Canin understand that the appetite of a cat with kidney disease can be unpredictable and they often experience days where they just do not feel like eating at all.

It is so important for your cat that they are fed on this kidney food alone and that you do not feel the need to supplement them with human food or treats, which often contain too much phosphorous and protein.

This diet is a high energy food, perfect for those elderly kitties that still like to keep active.

The ingredients are all highly digestible and should not result in stomach upset or worsen any vomiting or nausea that your cat is already experiencing.

Within this range, Royal Canin have created 6 diets (3 wet and 3 dry) labelled A (Aromatic), F (Flavourful), S (Savoury), D (Delectable), E (Enticing) and T (Tasty), and while E is our favourite, your cat may think differently, so you may want to try a few!

Each of these diets can be fed by itself or supplemented.

For example, E (a wet food) can be mixed with either A, F, or S, the dry food options.

Remember, before changing your cat’s diet or starting them on a renal food, it is essential to have a discussion with your vet beforehand, who will discuss the most appropriate diet for your cat.

Kidney disease is progressive and cats at different stages of the disease will have different requirements.

While approved renal diets are often more expensive than regular supermarket cat food, the extra cost involved is undoubtedly worth it, as they are an effective management tool in the fight against renal disease.

3. Hill’s K/D Dry Cat Food

Hill's Prescription Diet k/d Early Support Cat Food
Available at Amazon

Here we have the first of our dry food options and the second diet on our list manufactured by the big brand, Hill’s.

This dry food has similar benefits to the Hill’s wet food, though is preferred by some cats and owners.

Dry kibble is more tempting to some cats and they will choose it over wet food any day.

For owners, it is easier to measure out and serve and often leaves less mess and requires less cleaning up.

Once opened, it will keep for longer than a tin of wet food.

The main concern with feeding a cat with kidney failure dry food is that if they do not drink enough, there is a limited amount of moisture within dry foods, so they may become dehydrated.

As these cats urinate excessively, they need to drink far more than the average cat to maintain their hydration.

Dehydrated cats feel nauseous and under the weather and don’t usually want to eat or drink, often requiring several days in the hospital on intra-venous fluids.

Owners of cats with kidney disease can try to increase the amount of water they consume by the use of water fountains, as many cats prefer to drink running water.

Some cats dislike tap water as it can taste too chemical-rich, so offering them rain water that has been caught in a bowl or bucket outside is a good solution (as long as it is fresh and has not been stagnant for too long).

Water can be added to a dry diet and many cats like the addition of warm water, which creates a meaty broth.

Cats dislike to drink from bowls that are beside their food, so always keep food and water bowls far apart.

Some cats like to drink from ceramic bowls and many kitties will only drink if the bowl is filled right to the top… and who said cats were fussy?!

4. Royal Canin Renal Cat Food Dry

Royal Canin Diet Renal Food

Continuing with our dry food options, is this top-seller from Royal Canin.

Their renal diet is not only recommended for those cats with chronic kidney disease but also for patients that are prone to developing urate and calcium oxalate uroliths (stones).

By ensuring that the protein used is of a high quality, less of it can be used.

This decreases the kidneys’ workload and prevents the risk of a uraemic crisis.

For the average 4kg cat, 53g or 5/8 of a cup of food is advised.

While this may not seem like enough food to last a cat a day, dry food is particularly nutrient dense as it has a very small moisture composition.

Ideally, this renal diet would not be supplemented with any additional foods, although it can be a good idea to mix it with some wet renal food to increase palatability.

If this is done, the amount of dry food fed would need to be re-calculated, and Royal Canin have some mixed feeding charts online which help you to calculate the new amount needed.

As with the other Royal Canin Renal diets, this food is specifically formulated to be highly palatable to cats.

As kidney disease is known to often cause food aversions and reduced appetites, it is critical that the food we offer them is as tasty as can be.

In the later stages of kidney disease, many cats are so off their food that they require appetite stimulants to encourage eating.

By offering a food that is tempting, we can reduce the need for any of these medications.

5. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet NF Renal Function Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet NF Renal Function Cat Food
Available at Amazon

With limited amounts of quality protein, reduced phosphorous and a high level of omega 3 fatty acids, this renal diet from Purina goes a long way towards supporting cats with kidney disease, whatever stage they may be at.

Cats are carnivores and require protein to build muscle and repair tissue, however cats with renal damage are no longer able to deal with high levels of protein.

Owing to this, renal diets have reduced the amount of protein they contain, while continuing to provide all of the essential amino acids cats need in high enough concentrations.

A build-up of phosphorous in a cat with kidney disease can cause dangerous electrolyte disturbances and needs to be addressed.

If phosphorous levels are worryingly high, some cats will need hospitalisation and will be started on a drip and phosphate binders.

Other cats can be managed at home as out-patients and will have phosphate binders added to their food.

By providing your cat with a diet that is already restricted in phosphorous, you can prevent hyperphosphatemia from occurring.

The omega 3 fatty acids added to this food can potentially aid natural anti-inflammatory processes and may improve blood flow through the kidneys.

Again, as this is dry food, owners should encourage plenty of water drinking at all times.


More so than any tablet or supplement, diet plays an extraordinarily important role in the management of chronic renal failure in cats.

Time and time again, studies have shown that feeding kidney diets can not only increase lifespans but can also increase the quality of life while cats are alive.

Often, diets are used in conjunction with other therapies which may include supplements, phosphate binders, appetite stimulants, anti-nausea medication and antacids.

Using a multi-modal approach in the management of kidney disease will provide the best results.

Cats with kidney problems frequently lose their appetite so need highly palatable diets that are easy to digest.

The best cat foods for older cats with kidney problems address this problem by working hard to develop diets that smell and taste great.

Always check the phosphorous and protein contents of your cat food, as many older cats are fed foods too high in both of these components.

Importantly, the protein used must be of a high quality, so that the reduced amount contained is enough to support the cat and prevent any muscle breakdown.

Kidney diets should be recommended by veterinarians and should never be started without first having a discussion with your vet.

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