Can Cats Eat Dry Food With No Teeth?

As cats age, many of them lose some or all of their teeth. According to veterinarians, between 50-90% of cats over 4 years old have some form of dental disease, which can lead to tooth loss over time [1]. Conditions like tooth resorption, periodontal disease, and stomatitis often affect senior cats and cause tooth decay or the need for tooth extractions. This leaves many older cats with few or no teeth remaining in their mouth. Given that dry cat food is hard and crunchy, this raises the question of whether cats with no teeth can comfortably eat dry cat food.

Dry vs Wet Cat Food

Dry and wet cat foods have very different textures and compositions. Dry cat food is made up of kibble or dry pellets that contain about 10% moisture. It requires chewing which is thought to help clean cats’ teeth. Wet cat food has a moisture content of about 75% and comes in canned or pouches. It has a soft, mushy texture that does not require chewing.

The hardness of the kibble in dry cat food provides abrasion to scrape plaque and tartar off cats’ teeth as they chew. This is why dry food is generally considered better for dental health ( The crunchy texture helps clean the tooth surfaces and exercises the jaws. However, some experts argue dry food alone is not sufficient to maintain good dental health in cats (

Challenges of Eating Dry Food Without Teeth

Cats without teeth face significant challenges when trying to eat dry kibble. According to Untamed Cat Food, dry food is exceptionally hard to chew and swallow for cats missing teeth as cats use their carnassial teeth to crush food before swallowing [1]. The hard, dense texture of kibble is difficult for a toothless cat to break down and can cause gagging, choking, or regurgitation. WellPets notes that cats with severe dental issues may even avoid eating dry food altogether due to the pain and difficulty chewing [2]. Without proper nutrition, cats can quickly become malnourished. It’s critical for guardians of cats with missing teeth to find foods that are easier for their pet to consume and digest.

Transitioning to Wet Food

Since wet food contains more moisture and does not require much chewing, it is highly recommended to transition toothless cats to a wet food diet. Wet food will be much easier for cats to lap up and swallow compared to dry kibble. It can help ensure the cat continues to receive proper nutrition, even without teeth to chew dry food.

Wet food comes in many textures, like patés, stews, and shreds, which can make it easier for toothless cats to eat. Meat chunks or flakes can be broken down faster than dry food. Some wet foods even come in a loaf format that a cat can lick, providing an easy meal. Look for wet foods labeled for senior cats or kittens, as these often have softer textures a toothless cat can manage.

When transitioning to wet food, do it slowly over the course of a week or two. Start by mixing a small amount of wet food into the cat’s dry food, gradually increasing the wet portion each day. This allows time for the cat’s digestive system to adjust. Feed the wet food on a schedule, not free-choice, to ensure it is consumed fresh. Refrigerate any leftovers.

According to experts at Cat Food Haven, wet food is usually the best option for cats with no teeth, as it contains moisture and is easy to lap up without chewing (source). Making the switch to wet food can help a toothless cat continue to eat comfortably and receive complete daily nutrition.

Softening the Dry Food

One way to make dry food easier to eat for cats with no teeth is to soften it by soaking it in water. According to Petco, soaking kibble in warm water for 10-15 minutes can help turn crunchy dry food into a soft, mushy texture that is much easier to chew and swallow. The moisture from the water softens up the hard pieces and allows cats to eat dry food even without teeth. Just make sure to drain off any excess water before feeding.

Cats with dental issues often have a hard time eating crunchy dry kibble. By soaking the food in water first, it becomes easier to break down with their tongues and gums. The softened kibble doesn’t require chewing or biting down, which cats with missing teeth struggle with. So this simple trick can make dry food accessible for toothless cats.

Dry Food Alternatives

For cats with dental issues or no teeth, there are some alternatives to traditional dry kibble that can make eating easier. Some options include:

Pâté or mousse style canned foods have a soft, smooth texture that is easy to lap up and swallow for toothless cats. Pâté style foods from brands like Sheba, Fancy Feast, or Tiki Cat can be ideal.

There are also some specially designed dry foods for dental health that have larger, softer pieces that cats with no teeth may still be able to chew and eat. Hills Science Diet Adult Oral Care dry cat food has kibble that is easier to chew while also reducing tartar buildup. Consulting with your veterinarian can help determine if a dental health dry food may still be an option.

Switching to, or mixing in, a wet food diet can make mealtime easier for cats with dental issues. Talk to your vet about the best dry food alternatives and mixes to help your toothless cat get the nutrition they need.

Feeding Tips

There are a few tips that can make mealtimes easier for cats without teeth. One recommendation is to use raised bowls. Raising the bowl a few inches off the floor can make it less painful for the cat to eat without having to bend down as far (Feeding and Caring for a Cat with No Teeth). Small, frequent meals may also be helpful if the cat is struggling to eat normal sized portions. Breaking meals into smaller sizes spread throughout the day reduces the work needed at each feeding.

Additionally, pet owners can try hand feeding cats with dental issues. Hand feeding allows controlling the pace and ensures the cat eats enough at each meal (Food for cats with no teeth—what works and what doesn’t). Owners should provide patience and encourage the cat while hand feeding. This can strengthen the human-animal bond while also ensuring proper nutrition is received.

Other Dental Care

Even if your cat has lost some or all of its teeth, there are still steps you can take to maintain good dental health and hygiene for your cat. According to the RSPCA, regular brushing can help to remove plaque and tartar from remaining teeth and massage gums (source). Using a soft toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste, gently brush your cat’s teeth in a circular motion. Focus especially on the gumline. Brushing just a few times a week can still provide benefits.

You should also have your vet perform regular dental cleanings, even if your cat is missing teeth. Professional cleanings remove tartar buildup and plaque that cannot be reached by brushing alone. Your vet may recommend dental cleanings 1-2 times per year for optimal dental health (source).

There are also dental treats made specifically for cats that can help reduce plaque and tartar between cleanings. Look for treats with the VOHC seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council, which verifies the product is clinically proven to improve oral health (source).

When to See the Vet

If your cat stops eating, is losing weight, or seems to be in pain when eating, it’s important to schedule a veterinary appointment. The vet can do a full oral exam to check for dental disease, mouth injuries or growths that may make eating painful. They can also run bloodwork to check for issues like kidney disease that could be affecting your cat’s appetite.

Based on their assessment, the vet can recommend special dental care or a specific diet tailored to your cat’s needs. For example, if your cat has severely diseased or damaged teeth, the vet may recommend full dental extractions. They may then suggest switching to wet food or adding water to dry food to make it easier to eat without teeth.

While you can try some home remedies and feeding adjustments on your own, the vet’s input is crucial for assessing any underlying health issues and determining the best diet for your individual cat’s situation. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment if your toothless cat seems to be struggling with eating dry food.


In conclusion, cats can eat dry food without teeth, but adjustments may need to be made. Transitioning to wet food or softening the dry food with water or broth are good options. There are also dental-friendly dry foods made with smaller, softer kibbles that are easier to chew. If your cat is having significant difficulty eating or seems to be in pain, it’s best to see your vet for an examination and advice. With some adaptations, cats without teeth can continue enjoying mealtimes. The key is paying attention to your cat’s comfort level and making thoughtful changes to support their dental health.

Scroll to Top