How much wet food should a senior cat eat per day?

As cats age, their nutritional needs change. Senior cats, defined as those 11 years and older, require different amounts of calories, fat, protein and other nutrients compared to younger adult cats. Determining the right amount of wet food to feed an aging feline companion requires understanding these changing nutritional requirements.

Calorie Needs For Senior Cats

Calorie requirements decrease as cats get older. This is due to natural slowing of metabolism and reduced activity levels. Whereas young adult cats need about 30 calories per pound per day, senior cats only require 20-25 calories per pound per day.

For example, an 11 pound senior cat would need 220-275 calories per day. To determine how much wet food provides this amount, you need to check the calorie content listed on the product label. If a 3 oz can contains 100 calories, you would need to feed 2-3 cans per day to meet calorie needs.

Importance Of Increased Protein

As cats age, they can lose muscle mass and become more prone to illness. Senior cat foods are formulated with increased protein levels to help maintain muscle mass and support the immune system.

Most senior cat foods contain a minimum of 11% protein on a dry matter basis, compared to 8% protein or lower in regular adult cat foods. When choosing a wet food, look for protein levels of at least 7-9% to support muscle and organ health.

Moderate Fat Intake For Senior Cats

Fat is an important energy source for cats, but too much can lead to obesity. Senior cats have slower metabolisms and often become less active, so their food should be moderately low in fat.

Look for wet foods with 8-12% fat. Higher fat diets, such as those for kittens and lactating cats, provide unnecessary calories. Very low fat foods may not meet energy needs for less active senior cats.

Increased Fiber Helps Digestion

Many senior cats suffer from constipation or other digestive issues. Fiber helps promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. Increased fiber diets also help cats feel full on less food.

Look for wet foods containing 2-4% fiber. Added ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, oat fiber or psyllium provide insoluble and soluble fiber.

Importance Of Fluids For Kidney Health

Chronic kidney disease is common in older cats. Feeding a wet diet helps senior cats stay hydrated. Canned foods contain 78% water versus only 5-10% in dry food.

To help reduce strain on aging kidneys, senior cats should get the majority of their daily calories from wet food. Depending on your cat’s health, consider feeding solely wet food or doing a mix of mostly wet with some dry.

Transitioning To A Senior Cat Diet

When transitioning your senior to a new food formulated for their age, do so gradually over 5-7 days. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with their current food, slowly increasing the ratio of new to old each day. This allows their digestive system to adapt.

Watch for signs of an upset stomach, such as vomiting or diarrhea, and slow the transition if needed. It may take 2-3 weeks for some cats to fully adapt to a new food.

How Much Wet Food Should Senior Cats Eat?

As a general guideline, most senior cats should eat 3-6 ounces of wet food per day. However, every cat is different based on their weight, metabolism and activity level. Use these tips to determine the right amount:

  • Start with the calorie needs based on your cat’s weight. For example, a 10 pound senior cat needs 200-250 calories daily.
  • Check the can label for calorie content. Let’s say the food has 100 calories per 3 oz serving.
  • Calculate the number of servings needed. For 200 calories, feed 2 servings or 6 oz. For 250 calories, feed 2.5 servings or around 7.5 oz.
  • Weigh your cat weekly and adjust amounts based on weight loss/gain goals.
  • Divide the daily total into 2-3 meals fed at consistent times.

Feeding the right amount prevents obesity while meeting all nutritional needs. Check with your vet if you are unsure how much to feed.

Tips For Choosing a Senior Cat Wet Food

When selecting a wet food for your aging feline, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for a label stating the food is formulated for “senior” or “mature” cats.
  • Aim for at least 7-9% protein, 8-12% fat, and added fiber sources.
  • Choose lower phosphorus options for cats with kidney disease.
  • Select texture based on your cat’s chewing ability – chopped, minced, pates, etc.
  • Pick flavors your cat enjoys to increase palatability.
  • Cans or pouches are convenient single servings.

Avoid generic adult cat foods not made for seniors. While cheaper, they lack key nutrients for aging cats. Investing in a quality senior formula supports health and longevity.

Common Senior Cat Health Issues

Below are some common health issues seen in senior cats and how diet can help manage symptoms:

Condition Dietary Tips
Obesity Feed measured amounts based on ideal weight, choose lower calorie foods
Constipation Increase fiber, feed wet food to boost moisture intake
Kidney Disease Choose lower phosphorus options, feed mainly wet food
Diabetes Low carb, high protein diets help regulate blood sugar
Dental Disease Soft, easy to chew foods if chewing is painful
Arthritis Maintain lean body weight to reduce joint stress
Hyperthyroidism Increased calories needed due to excess metabolism

Monitor Health Closely

Regular vet checkups, ideally every 6 months, are key for senior cats. Age related diseases often develop slowly and may not have obvious symptoms at first. Routine bloodwork, urinalysis, dental exams and other vet care is crucial to catch issues early.

Track litter box habits, weight changes, energy levels, water intake, coat condition and any behavioral changes. Notify your vet promptly about symptoms to get timely treatment when needed.

Keep Their Environment Comfortable

Ensure your senior cat’s surroundings meet their physical needs:

  • Place food bowls, water fountain and litter box in easy to access spots.
  • Provide steps or ramps to access beds and favorite napping places.
  • Use night lights and well-lit paths to help failing vision.
  • Keep their living space warm and cozy.
  • Use litter that’s easy on joints, like fine grit clumping.
  • Groom gently and frequently to ease matted fur.

Simple adjustments like these support comfort and quality of life in older cats.

Enrich Their Lives Through Play And Bonding

Mental and social enrichment are important for senior cats:

  • Engage in gentle play with wand toys, laser pointers and treat puzzles.
  • Brush and pet them frequently for comfort and companionship.
  • Spend time together cuddling, napping and observing nature.
  • Use catnip, cat grass and other aromas to stimulate senses.
  • Consider adopting a young companion cat if yours is lonely.

An enriched environment keeps senior cats active, engaged and feeling loved.

Saying Goodbye

One of the hardest parts of caring for an aging companion is knowing when it’s time to say goodbye. There are a few key signs quality of life has declined:

  • Prolonged decrease in appetite and weight loss.
  • Difficulty moving around even for short distances.
  • Chronic vomiting, diarrhea or house soiling.
  • Significant behavior changes, anxiety, irritability or other distress.
  • Persistent changes in alertness – especially non-responsiveness to surroundings.

Consult honestly with your vet when your cat displays these symptoms. Though the decision is difficult, choosing a peaceful passing is the final act of love we give our feline companions.


Adjusting food type and amounts supports health and longevity in senior cats. Wet foods help them meet changed nutritional needs while combating common age-related diseases. Combined with regular vet care, a comfortable environment and plenty of love, proper diet helps ensure your cat enjoys their golden years with you.

Leave a Comment