Senior cat food – do old cats need special food?
Cats who are approx. 10 to 12 years of age can be considered seniors. But does an older cat instantly require cat food for seniors as soon as it hits the age of 10? Let us preface this by saying that it is not only the age of the cat that’s pivotal in deciding whether your feline friend is a senior, but also the breed, the level of daily activity and most importantly the state of health.
Is senior cat food necessary for cats?
Senior cats, in general, don’t need special senior food, even if this is a persistent belief. Older but healthy cats can continue to eat the cat food they are used to and love without any problems, as long as it is adjusted to their needs. Cats are creatures of habit, and routines are especially important to them in their advanced years. Therefore, a switch to a senior cat food is unnecessary and should be avoided if possible. After all, it’s not only the cat’s age that matters. Instead, the cat’s physical condition, state of health, and activity level determine whether it should be given special food for elderly cats.
- State of health
- Overweight or underweight
The needs of cats also frequently change as they age. Many house cats become calmer as they get older and are less active than they were in their youth. In addition to changes in hormones, a cat’s metabolism also slows down and they lose muscle mass. If no changes are made to their food, their body fat may increase and they may become obese, which can in turn foster age-related diseases (e.g. diabetes mellitus) in cats. In this case, a change to a calorie-reduced and high-quality food such as MeatCrisp Sterilised is completely sufficient to feed the aging cat in a species-appropriate and needs-oriented way.
Low bodyweight is also a common issue among old cats because various factors, such as dental problems or a poor sense of smell and taste, can negatively impact their appetite. It is therefore important for you to first know what the ideal weight ofyour cat is in order to spot any deviations here. Knowing this can give you first insights into the health of your feline friend and let you choose the right cat food. If you are not sure and need to diagnose your senior cat’s state of health, it’s always best to seek advice from a veterinarian.
When do you give senior food to a cat?
Older cats may be more susceptible to some illnesses than young cats. For this reason, it’s important to have a vet check your house cat’s state of health on a regular basis as it gets into its older years. You can do this, for example, when it gets its yearly shot during its general check-up. If you notice any changes in your cat’s urine and defecation or food intake or drinking behaviour, it is important to have this clarified by a veterinarian. If the health circumstances of your cat require it, a change to a special food must be made in consultation with the vet. But if your senior cat is still fit and healthy, it does not need a special senior food.
What is the best food for older cats?
If your senior cat has been examined by a vet and is healthy, then it’s a good idea to select cat food based on the cat’s needs and activity level, but a special senior cat food is not necessary here. What’s essential, however, is for your cat to be fed high-quality cat food that meets its nutritional needs and contains sufficient high-grade protein from fresh meat, and this applies even in old age. It is also important that the cat food be easy to digest, which is why it’s worth it for you to look at the cat food ingredients. Animal proteins from meat can be very easily digested by cats, even at an advanced age, since they are carnivores.
The daily amount of cat food should be adjusted to match the older cat’s activity level in order to prevent it from becoming obese or emaciated. You can also switch to calorie-reduced cat food if your cat begins gaining too much weight in its old age. When selecting cat food, you should also make sure that the senior cat is provided with enough vitamins, minerals and proteins despite the lower energy content of the food. One such food option is our MeatCrisp Sterilised.
How much and how often should an elderly cat eat?
Cats are inherent snackers. This means that they prefer eating smaller amounts of food throughout the day instead of just one or two large portions. In addition, as cats get older, their metabolism generally slows down, and their digestive system can no longer process cat food as well. As such, a meal can also be divided into several small portions throughout the day. The daily total amount should be adjusted to the animal’s body weight.
It’s not uncommon for older cats’ sense of smell and taste to change. Unfortunately, the visible effects are much like when a cat experiences dental pain, resulting in an apparent loss of appetite. The first thing you should do is check the teeth and gums to identify what is causing your cat to reject its usual food. Tartar or gingivitis can be alleviated or even prevented with suitable care products, such as our Oral Clean+Care series. It’s not unusual for cats to have dental diseases; cats commonly suffer from feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion (FORL) – a degenerative dental disease that attacks the tooth and the root of the tooth in particular. That’s why you should always have this checked out by a vet beforehand. If the vet has also factored out other diseases, you can try to make your house cat’s usual food appealing to it again:
- Sometimes all it takes is to show your furry pal that you’re giving it its usual cat food. To do this, you can place a small piece of food in its mouth to stimulate its appetite.
- Small amounts of odorous and flavourful cat-friendly food, such as some fish, can also be added to the cat food.
- You can also warm up the food a little, for example, by adding a little warm water or hand-feeding small portions if necessary, to help reinvigorate the elderly cat’s appetite.
Be very patient with your senior cats in this case.