Cats technically fall into the "senior" stage at 8 years of age. They move to geriatric stage at 12 years of age. Their dietary needs change as they mature. Below are 10 dietary recommendations to optimize your cat's nutritional health and provide increased quality of life:
Increased Water Intake – to help with hydration, digestion, the function of kidneys and liver and intestinal movement
Increased Fiber – ads bulk to material passing through the intestines and decreases processing time. A good source of fiber easily digested by felines is canned or powdered pumpkin.
Lower Fat – fat should be lowered to 5-8% (from the recommended 9-15%) so the senior cat does not put on excess weight, which may lead to diabetes and joint issues. It is better to keep a senior cat lean than overweight.
Digestible Protein – that is high quality and easy to digest, which would be animal proteins.
Lower Calories – Keeping the aging cat in good body shape is important. Lowering caloric intake and switching to a grain free food can help keep the weight off. Try switching from dry food feeding to canned - this will help with #1, 4 and 5. But go slow and incrementally with dietary changes - older cats don't like sudden change!
Increased Antioxidants – such as vitamin E, Omegas 3 and 6. Since these are often found in fruits it’s difficult to get a cat to eat them and perhaps supplements should be considered.
Increased Feeding Frequency – Much like kittens, older cats should be fed smaller meals more frequently.
Increased Activity – as with all creatures, a cat’s enthusiasm for activity wanes in its senior years. It’s important to keep your cat as active as possible with new toys, leash walks and increased movement.
Warmth – senior cats become less tolerant of cold temperatures and tend to seek out warm places. Consider a heated bed and ample sunny nap spots.
Increased Vet Visits – it’s important to visit the vet at least once a year and monitor the cat’s bloodwork levels. Your vet will advise you of increased liver enzymes, blood sugar and other indications that your cat may be developing diseases common with seniors such as Diabetes, Kidney and Liver issues.
++ Lots of Extra Love!