The Best Foods for a Senior Cat
Though your cat may look young and still have the fun personality of a kitten that doesn’t mean she has the same dietary needs as she grows older. But at what age should you be changing what you put in your kitty’s dish?
When is a cat considered a senior?
The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), designates the age of a senior cat as between seven and ten years. That's the time cats should receive senior food because their metabolism begins to slow down. It’s also when age-related diseases, like chronic kidney disease and heart disease make their first appearance.
More isn't always better
Studies show that physiological changes in cats occur around the age of 11 or 12. That’s when they exhibit a decreased ability to digest fat and protein, causing many senior cats to start losing weight. At that age, cats just aren’t absorbing nutrition as well as they did when they were younger even though they're eating as much as they did in their prime.
But feeding your kitty more food isn’t the answer. Today, most veterinarians no longer recommend reduced protein diets for older cats, since research shows they actually need more protein as they age, suggesting the best course of action is to feed your feline family member an increased amount of a high-quality, animal-based protein, like Rachael Ray Nutrish new Peak Ultra Premium Woodland Catch Recipe, since felines are obligate carnivores. Meaning cats' unique biology is designed to digest and absorb nutrients from animal-based proteins and fats, not plant based.
Fats are a cat's best friend
In addition to proteins, your aging kitty needs an increased amount of fats as an important source of calories. Fats are usually found in the animal protein foods but can be augmented by adding a teaspoon into the food. The best sources of high-quality fat are things like chicken fat, bacon grease or butter.
Sometimes they need a little boost
Older kitties also have a need for increased levels of vitamins and minerals because their ability to absorb vitamins through the intestinal tract diminishes as they age. They also need higher levels of antioxidants to reduce tissue damage that is common in the senior years. Most high-quality cat foods for seniors usually contain added B vitamins and balanced minerals. Supplements are not normally necessary for the healthy cat, unless recommended by your veterinarian.
Wet & Wild: Don't forget to drink!
Finally, one of the most important things you can provide your kitty is moisture. As a cat ages, they don’t typically drink a lot of water on their own, so other than leaving bowls of water throughout the house or keeping a constant drip in the bathroom sink to entice your kitty, it’s important to ensure that their food provides adequate moisture.
When it comes to food, these simple and important considerations will help keep your senior cat in tip-top shape!