Cats have very specific nutritional needs, which may vary as they get on in years. Whilst you should always consult your vet to determine the best diet and feeding schedule to suit your cat, our answers to these 6 common questions will equip you with the basic knowledge to better understand your cat as she ages.
1. The right senior cat food
Hill's™ Science Plan Feline Mature 7+
- Antioxidant vitamins E&C to help preserve healthy kidneys.
- Highly digestible ingredients for optimal nutrient absorption.
- Sustains healthy vital organs with balanced mineral levels.
- Made with high-quality ingredients for great taste. 100% guaranteed.
Royal Canin Ageing +12
- Full of antioxidants and fatty acids, this all-in-one meal delivers a health boost with every bite.
- Suitable for all breeds of a cat over the age of 12 years
- Help your pet to stay active for longer by keeping their joints strong and heart healthy.
- The phosphorous content helps to keep your mature cat's kidneys in top condition
- antioxidants strengthen their natural defences against illness and infection.
PURINA PRO PLAN Vital Age 7+
- Contains LONGEVIS, a blend of nutrients including antioxidants, omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids and a prebiotic, proven* to extend the healthy lifespan and improve quality of life of cats aged 7 years and above
- Helps support key vital functions (immune, renal, digestion) - thanks to a high level of vitamins and extra beta-carotene in a highly digestible recipe specially designed for cats aged over 7.
- Balanced gut micro-flora for digestive health - thanks to chicory, a natural prebiotic, which naturally stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the cat’s intestine.
- Balanced minerals for a healthy urinary system by promoting a urine pH in the safe range to help minimise the risk of urinary stone formation.
Feline Choice Complete Mature
- 75% meat
- Energy content adjusted to the slower metabolism of mature cats (7+ years)
- Pomegranate, cranberry and grapeseed to boost the immune system and natural defences
- Prebiotics to improve digestion and relieve irritation
- Omega 3 fatty acids and minerals to promote a shiny coat and healthy skin
- Sweet potato, apple and peas to provide valuable fibre and vitamins
- Spearmint and fennel to support oral health
- L-carnitine to maintain a healthy fat/muscle ratio
- A grain-free formula
- No soy, artificial colours or preservatives
2. What are the nutritional requirements of my senior cat?
Unlike dogs whose requirements vary, cats require the same amount of energy throughout their adult life. Specifically:
- Cats need a much higher amount of protein than many other animals
- Senior cats can find it hard to digest and absorb fats
This means that senior cats require fats which are easier for their bodies to digest, to help ensure they still get the amount of energy they need.
It’s important to monitor the weight and condition of your cat closely, particularly as he ages, and adjust his diet accordingly, following the recommendations of your vet. Older cats can either have problems with obesity or can become very thin, with both extremes possibly indicating underlying conditions which you will want to investigate with your vet.
Healthy senior cat food should include; high-quality protein, digestible carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, magnesium, fibre, antioxidants, and fatty acids. Your vet will answer any questions you may have about how to feed your senior cat – don’t be afraid to ask, however big or small your query.
3. At what age does my cat become senior?
It’s best to start feeding your cat senior food over the age of 7, as this is when her metabolism will start to slow down and she might become less active. It’s also when age-related diseases like chronic kidney disease can start to appear, and senior diets contain lower phosphorus levels and more antioxidants.
4. Does my senior cat have special dietary needs?
There are some diseases which may benefit from dietary changes, including:
- Cats with colitis, constipation, or anal gland disease often benefit from diets with increased dietary fibre
- Cats with diabetes may benefit from a diet high in fat, protein and fibre and low in quick-release carbohydrates
- Cats with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colitis will benefit from diets which have highly digestible sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
- Cats with heart disease may require a special diet with decreased amounts of sodium and increased amounts of taurine.
- Cats with chronic kidney failure should be on diets with highly digestible protein. This means there are fewer products to break down that the kidneys are responsible for eliminating in the urine.
- Cats with dental or oral diseases may need to switch to a dental veterinary diet or canned food.
- Cats with cancer have special dietary needs; we recommend increasing Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.
If your cat has been diagnosed with a medical condition then please consult with your vet regarding a suitable diet.
5. My senior cat won't eat. What should I do?
See you veterinary surgeon first to rule out any underlying conditions that could be causing the lack of appetite. Make sure her food is served in a clean bowl, and it may be worth investing in a shallower dish as some cats don’t like to eat from containers where their whiskers touch the side of the bowl.
Heating canned cat food or moistened kibble to a warm temperature will make the food taste better and smell more strongly and encourage the cat to eat. Water from canned (unsalted) tuna can be added for the same reason. If your cat is eating dry food, they may benefit from switching to canned food making it easier for them to eat.
Your vet might advise you to switch to a special prescription diet, which will probably be high calorie and full of nutrients to enable smaller quantities to be fed. Also, increasing the number of times the cat food is offered (in small quantities) can encourage your cat’s willingness to eat and therefore increase his calorie intake.
6. Should I give my senior cat supplements?
The level of various vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes may be lower in older animals. This will either be because they absorb less of them through the intestinal tract, or lose more of them through the kidneys and tract. Some senior cats eat less cat food, such as those with oral disease, and may not receive their daily needs of vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants such as vitamins A beta-carotene E, and C may play a role in protecting against the ageing processes. Consult your vet to determine which supplements.