Nutrition Basics for Senior Cats

By Valdette Muller| October 21, 2015 | Blog

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If diet is the brick and mortar of health, are we giving our older cats the best chance of a healthy old age?

Considering that the life expectancy of a cat is typically 12–15 years, an eight-year-old should qualify for pension benefits and by 10 or 11, he is geriatric. Additionally, during their senior years, cats’ diets can influence their response to typical ailments like a decreased immune response, altered glucose tolerance, decreased kidney function and several other changes. If we want to do better by our furry family members we can start by reassessing our older cats’ nutritional needs.

The changing nutritional needs of an older cat

While some cats need to watch their waistlines as they get older, this focus generally changes the older the kitty becomes and start to lose weight. Studies show that the ability to digest fat decreases for most cats over the age of 12 and up to 20 percent of cats of that age have a decreased ability to digest protein. While not all cats lose weight in their senior years, most of them will benefit from a diet rich in high-quality protein and fat. Fibre, while usually beneficial, is generally not recommended in large quantities because it may decrease the absorption of some essential nutrients.

Water needs

Many senior cats’ kidney function becomes impaired and they risk dehydration. Many run the same risk because they simply don’t drink enough water. Adding wet food to their diet will add to their water intake and it will be beneficial to offer it to them regularly.

Dental problems and dietcat

Many older felines have dental problems that make chewing painful and may swallow food whole or quit eating altogether. Either way, this is not an ideal situation and a visit to the vet might be needed to address dental problems if you suspect your cat is suffering. A diet of wet food or softer kibble will help to reduce dental pain.

It’s all in the aroma

Older cats often start favouring food with a strong smell or aroma. That is because their sense of smell deteriorates with age and cats rely on their smelling sense to detect pheromones and thereby smell mates or prey. When they’re unable to smell their food, they may become finicky and temperamental about eating. The cause may not necessarily be age-related and your pet’s smelling ability may simply be affected by an upper respiratory infection. If the vet has ruled that option, you can improve the aroma of their meals by heating the food slightly or adding taste enhancers.Catsbest_Nature_Gold_alle[1]

Finding the right diet for an older cat can be a challenging but rewarding task. Your kitty’s eating habits can be the first hint of disease as they become more prone to typically age-related illnesses like kidney failure, diabetes mellitus and heart disease. While a loss of appetite is a sign that something may be wrong, be on the lookout for other clues as well, like a lack of grooming, unusual urination habits, vomiting or diarrhoea, because a cat with a normal or increased appetite could still be affected by conditions such as hyperthyroidism, malabsorption or maldigestion or even parasites.

 

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