Tue. Jun 6th, 2023
Senior Cat Food: Ultimate Guide

We consult professionals to learn more about the senior cat food and the dietary requirements of elderly and geriatric cats. Seek out the greatest tips for feeding a senior cat.

I have two 18 1/2-year-old cats at home, so I am well aware of the need of selecting the proper diet to satisfy their nutritional requirements. It might be challenging to choose what to feed an elderly cat because there are so many different cat meals available. Around the age of 8, pet food businesses start to promote different diets to your cat, although your cat’s nutritional requirements don’t necessarily vary at that time.

When should you start feeding your cat with senior cat food?

While your cat’s general health may decline with age, Sean J. Delaney, DVM, MS, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Nutrition, emphasizes cat owners should be cautious and not assume that a cat is in worse health just because they are senior or geriatric. Or, if there isn’t a medical diagnosis to trigger a nutritional modification, to presume that their cat’s diet has to change.

There isn’t much of a distinction between senior and geriatric cats, according to the feline veterinary specialists we spoke with, especially when it comes to choosing food.

According to holistic veterinarian Jean Hofve, DVM, of Denver, Colorado, “much as some people age earlier or more quickly, and others remain energetic and look wonderful into their 90s, cats vary significantly and their nutritional needs rely far more on their history and husbandry than on chronological age.”

Senior Cat Food Ingredients

Knowing what to feed an elderly cat might be challenging because there are so many different cat foods available. All cats, at all stages of life, need lots of high-quality protein, according to Dr. Hofve. Feeding a high-moisture, high-protein, low-carbohydrate food to a cat for their entire life can prevent several health issues, such as urinary tract issues, obesity, and diabetes. As cats get older, their capacity to digest and assimilate food decreases, making this even more crucial.

Dr. Hofve advises cat owners to choose high-quality protein sources. Don’t just rely on a manufacturer’s claim that the food is of great quality; do some study instead. She advises that the greatest foods for cats are meat, poultry, and eggs. She dislikes giving fish to cats, which surprises me, since she worries that so much of it is farm-raised and if there is subpar feed in very polluted enclosures. She’s also concerned that some cats may develop urinary issues from consuming even healthy wild-caught fish.

Senior Cat Food: What to look for and what to avoid

senior cat grass

Products that have been rendered, like poultry by-product meal, are of lower quality. The nutritional value is reduced during heat processing, such as rendering. However, compared to a generic “poultry” product sourced from many sources, chicken meal produced in a facility that solely works with chickens is probably of higher quality. Meat and bone meal is a distinct component, not just “meat meal” and “bone meal” together. This is the lowest-quality option and ought to be absolutely avoided.

Digests might not be as good. In dry cat food, rendered meals and digests are frequently employed.

Plant proteins are inexpensive replacements for actual meat, such as rice protein concentrate, maize gluten meal, and related components. They may also have chemical residue from pesticides and herbicides, and they lack the entire range of amino acids found in meat. They appear more frequently in dry food.

Senior Cat Supplements

For all cats, even older and geriatric cats, Dr. Hofve advises three categories of supplements:

  1. Digestive assistance (digestive enzymes, probiotics and prebiotics)
  2. Immune assistance (antioxidants)
  3. General/joint support Omega-3s (EPA and DHA) (EPA and DHA)

These, according to Dr. Hofve, are the most crucial for senior cats. Dr. Hofve advises choosing a wonderful blend of at least three or four different supplements for your cat since “antioxidants work best in conjunction, rather than as separate supplements,” she says. Omega-3 fatty acids need to come from marine sources like fish or green-lipped mussels (which also contain joint-supporting nutrients like hyaluronic acid). Alpha linolenic acid is the only Omega-3 generated from plants, but cats are unable to convert it into the EPA and DHA they require. Always consult your veterinarian before making dietary changes, including the addition of supplements, for your cat.

Cat Joint Support

senior cat window

Maintaining a healthy weight for your cat as it ages is the most crucial thing you can do to stop joint disease.

“If weight loss is not required or greater alleviation is required, one should speak with their veterinarian about chondroprotective nutraceuticals and anti-inflammatory medications. A particular therapeutic pet food for the nutritional management of joint disorders might also be taken into account, suggests Dr. Delaney.

Senior Cat Weight Management

“Cats who have been a part of human lives for far too little time should live longer and live in better quality by maintaining a healthy weight throughout their lives. As excess calorie intake over many years physically adds up, weight can become a significant concern in senior cats, according to Dr. Delaney. For geriatric and elderly cats, maintaining a healthy weight involves more than just preventing overeating. Dr. Hofve cautions us that weight loss in cats can occur rapidly and can raise medical issues.

Dr. Hofve says, “Weight is a fascinating topic in elderly cats because many cats naturally lose weight as they age. “Throughout my senior years, I want to keep a healthy weight. This can be improved by feeding more or taking more vitamins that support the digestive system.

Your cat’s ability to maintain a healthy weight can be greatly helped by both the food and the manner in which you feed him. “Instead of having a bowl of dry food ready all the time, a healthy high-protein, high-moisture diet delivered in discrete meals will prevent weight gain in the first place. Dr. Hofve warns against using it to help adult cats lose weight.

Any sudden or unintended weight loss or gain in a cat is cause for concern, particularly in older senior or geriatric cats, and necessitates a trip to the doctor straight soon for a thorough checkup. According to Dr. Delaney, dietary adjustments should only be undertaken in response to a specific diagnosis, and all adult cats, regardless of age, should be fed as obligate carnivores. Age-related diet modifications or additions may result in providing a diet that isn’t necessary or ideal overall.

Senior vs. geriatric cats

Many people use these two terms interchangeably, but what do they actually mean? Cats go through the following six unique life stages, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP):

  1. Kitten
  2. Junior
  3. Prime
  4. Mature
  5. Senior
  6. Geriatric

Geriatric cats are those that are 15 years of age or older, while senior cats are those who are between the ages of 11 and 14.

Read more: Cat Hunt – Should Your Cat Hunt For Food?

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