What to Feed Your Senior Cats
20 April, 2015
As our feline friends age, their bodies and nutritional needs change as well. Even if your cat does not have any specific illness that requires a special diet, he or she will develop new diet requirements as he or she gets older, such as a need for easy-to-digest foods and fewer calories. Many commercial cat foods are available in special formulas for senior cats. Yet, you don’t always have to go ‘senior’ unless your cat’s diet requires you to do so.
Cats are senior at nine to ten years old
Cats are considered senior starting at age nine or ten, but you don’t really have to worry about adjusting your cat’s diet until he or she starts showing health problems associated with old age usually between ages twelve and fourteen. As our cats are now being fed much better high quality food, it can really depend on your kitty and as always, should be discussed with your vet. If your cat is moving more slowly, climbing less high, vomiting sometimes or has been diagnosed with a serious illness, it might be time to switch to a senior cat food.
Nutritional Needs for our senior cats
Many older cats have a harder time digesting food and may vomit from time to time. Their metabolism is slower, and they are less active, so they need fewer calories. Older cats often don’t drink enough water, so it is a good idea to provide your pet with plenty of canned food (as opposed to dry kibbles) for its higher moisture content.
Senior cat foods are formulated with our seniors in mind
Senior cat food is typically formulated with extra fiber to give your cat’s digestive system an extra boost. They also typically are easy to chew, have plenty of easy-to-break-down fats and extra protein, and fewer calories than regular cat food.
Because older cats have a harder time absorbing nutrients, your vet might prescribe a vitamin supplement. There are also many natural remedies on the market that could go well with your cat’s food. As always, start slowly in implementing them into your cat’s diet to see how your kitty reacts to them.
Prescription Food for senior cats
If your cat has contracted a specific illness, such as feline diabetes, leukemia or kidney problems, he or she will need a diet formulated for his or her individual needs. Your vet will give you some recommendations as to which foods are best for your beloved cat. Hills makes many excellent prescription food such as Feline y/d that is directed at maintaining your kitty’s kidney health.
Below are some additional tips for how or when to feed your older cat:
1. Wet Food is usually the best for our senior cats
Wet food will keep your senior cat well-hydrated, dilute urine and help prevent urinary tract infections and constipation. Sometimes our cats don’t like to drink much water as they age and wet food helps keep them nourished. Further, dry food, while great for a kitty’s teeth in their youth, are hard for our senior cats to chew as they lose their teeth.
2. Extra Fat to the diet is important in older cats
Since senior cats don’t absorb fat as well as younger cats do, they may need more fat to maintain their energy levels. If they can digest it, little pieces tuna or meat can add some fat or make sure there is a little fat in your cat’s wet food.
3. Frequent Small Meals are preferable as our seniors age
As cats age, their digestive systems become less efficient. Senior cats are more likely to get all the calories they need if they get several small meals of wet food every day. It’s harder for them to eat all at once and the more frequent meals you can give them, the better. However don’t overfeed them – just the same amount portioned throughout the day.
4. Senior cats tend to be more finicky about their food
Cats tend to become finicky about food as they age. Warming your cat’s wet food in the microwave for a few seconds will make it smellier and more appealing. Other tricks include adding a tiny amount of clam juice, the liquid from a can of tuna, or bacon or chicken drippings to the cat’s food.
If you watch your cat’s diet, take them to the vet as scheduled and keep an eye on their changes, your senior cat should live a long, happy life.