Feeding Your Older Cat

old age in cats.jpg Feeding Your Older CatOur cats get older but to us they still look young and vibrant. Despite their appearance, their needs have changed.  As responsible pet owners you need to make sure that you are taking care of them accordingly.  You should ask yourself, is it time for your cats diet to change?

By the time your cat is 12 years old, they are the equivalent to 64 years old. This makes them a senior.

Older Cat Diet

A lot of senior cat food is lower in protein and higher in fat. This is because older cats are lower energy and don’t require as much protein. However, this may not actually be the case. Kathryn Michel, DVM, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, says that there is no research to prove that the nutritional needs of a healthy senior cat is different from his younger counterpart.

What is comes down to is evaluating the individual needs of your senior cat. Ask yourself:

  • Are they overweight?
  • Are they underweight?
  • Do they have arthritis?
  • Do they have stiff joints?
  • Do they have a medical condition?
  • Do they have skin issues?

Look at the overall health of your senior cat and tailor their diet to meet those needs.

Fat Old Cat

Young cats tend to be very active, even indoor cats. They will stalk and capture prey, whether their prey is a bug, a mouse or a ball of tinfoil. Cats are natural hunters, but as they get older their hunting activity will slow down. Most people leave cat food out all day for their hunter. This can lead to very easy overeating or generally lazy hunting habits, because they know they are not hunting for food but hunting for fun.

The dry food that is left out all day tend to be high in calories, and even 10 extra calories a day can add up to a pound of fat.

To keep your cats weight under control

  • Work with your veterinarian to get the food with the best nutritional value for your cats needs.
  • Read the label of your pet food so you know what you are feeding them. If you are not sure the nutritional balance that is best for your cat, talk to your vet.
  • Feed your cat the right amount. Don’t just leave food out. Give your cat the food that is right for their weight and size.

Kitty Vitamins

Most cats do not need nutritional supplements  However, if your cat has a health condition that could potentially interfere with his ability to absorb all the nutrients he needs from his food.

Most supplements have not been studied in animals. Some have been shown to be fine in dogs or humans, but not cats, due to differences in metabolisms. Some supplements can also interfere with medication.  Make sure to check with your vet on whether your cat needs supplements and which ones are ok to give her. Your vet may recommend a special food that already has the supplement added to it, as opposed to adding a supplement to the food you are already giving.

My Cat Won’t Eat

Sometimes older cats stop eating. This is usually indicative of something being wrong. If your cat stops eating, call your vet and make an appointment.  Older cats may stop eating for a lot of different reasons.

Sometimes you can use things like tuna juice, warming the food, or giving your cat wet food. These things can help encourage your cat to eat. Your vet may also give you a calorie dense supplement paste you can feed your cat to help him gain weight, or he may prescribe an appetite-stimulating drug.

Though if your cat is not eating, you need to treat the underlying cause. There is very little you can do to get them to eat without proper treatment.

 

If you have an older cat, pay attention to their weight and overall health. If your cat starts losing weight, consider increasing their calorie intake through higher calorie foods. If your cat has creaky joints and is stiff, consider a food that promotes joint health.  As your cat ages, just make sure to pay attention to their overall health and talk to your vet about managing their golden years.

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