Cats’ physiology change as they grow older. Like us, they experience changes like grey hair, loss of sight and hearing as they grow older. The growth and evolution of their needs makes them require more hands-on care and a special diet for senior cats.
As a pet owner, it’s important to be aware of your cat’s changing needs and adapt their diet accordingly.
Diet for senior cats: Do not overfeed them
Obesity is a common issue faced by older cats. Although they are natural predators, domesticated cats have become used to living inside and getting their food from a bowl. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with lower energy and activity often leads to weight gain in cats.
Owners should be aware of these changes and not overfeed your cat. Simply keep a consistent amount of their portions based on your veterinarians advice. Obesity in cats can lead to chronic problems in the heart, lungs, skin and joints. Slowly adjust their calorie intake by switching to food with lower energy density.
Diet for senior cats: Supplements
If your cat is eating a balanced meal, they may not need supplements. Although pushed in diets for senior dogs, vets do not encourage the same for cats.
Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, told WebMD: “Some supplements that have been shown to be just fine in dogs or humans can be detrimental in a cat because their metabolisms are very different.”
Diet for senior cats: Talk to your veterinarian
Senior cats are more susceptible to catching a disease. If your pet has already been diagnosed with an illness, your vet will recommend a diet that doesn’t exacerbate it. Cats with diabetes will be put on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Those with kidney disease are recommended a phosphorous-restricted diet. While cats with dental disease are switched to softer, canned food.
Schedule an appointment with your vet to discuss the best food options for your cat and create a diet plan best tailored to their needs.