What You Should Feed An Older Cat
13 February, 2012
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.
When Is a Cat considered Senior?
Cats are considered senior starting at age seven, 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 some time between age eight to twelve and in consultation 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.
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.
I look pretty good for my age!
Commercial Senior Cat Foods
Senior cat foods are formulated with extra fiber to give the 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.
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.
Below are some tips for how or when to feed your older cat:
1. Wet Food
Wet food will keep your senior cat well-hydrated, dilute urine and help prevent urinary tract infections and constipation.
2. Extra Fat
Since senior cats don’t absorb fat as well as younger cats do, they may need more fat to maintain their energy levels.
3. Frequent Small Meals
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.
4. Appetizing 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.
I hope these tips help and that your cat lives until he’s twenty years old!