Senior Cat Nutrition
Cats are known for their finicky preferences, and their diet sometimes agrees. A cat’s regular diet has specific needs, such as taurine
and protein, and as they age, it may only become more specific. One of the best ways to keep your cat healthy when he’s old is to start when he’s young. Good nutrition and regular exercise can keep him at a healthy weight, making it easier for them as they age.
Unlike dogs, a cat’s energy needs stay relatively the same throughout adulthood, so there’s no need to change their calorie intake unless their health requires it. Obesity is more common in middle age cats, but senior cats tend to lose some of that fat as they lose their ability to digest fat efficiently. If your cat is affected by this, you may need to adjust their diet accordingly to keep them at a healthy weight.
Even if their calorie needs stay the same, a variety of factors can affect your cat’s individual health needs. Unique health problems may need unique diet specifications.
- Arthritis & Joint Care: Those stiff, aching joints can cause a lot of pain and slow your cat down if not treated regularly. Supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin can help regenerate lost cartilage and restore some of your cat’s mobility. Do NOT give your cat anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, unless directed by a veterinarian. Cats are very sensitive to these drugs, and they can cause a lot of problems, including death, if not given as directed.
- Skin & Hair Coat: Just like humans, a cat’s hair coat can become thinner, duller and possibly gray. A fatty acid supplement can restore some of that luster and shine, and extra grooming procedures can also distribute their natural oils throughout the coat.
- Gastrointestinal: Constipation is common in older cats, and it also may be affected by hairballs. Your cat’s diet should be high in quality dietary fiber with extra water. Regular hairball treatment and grooming can help reduce constipation due to hairballs.
- Kidney Function: If your cat has kidney problems, their diet and medications will probably need to change. Choose a diet with less phosphorus, salt and protein, encouraging as much water consumption as possible. Medications such as Azodyl or Epakitin can also help relieve symptoms.
- Dental Problems: Very common in older cats, dental problems probably won’t affect the nutrients they eat, but the type of food they eat. Pain and discomfort in their teeth may affect their ability to eat properly, so canned food may be necessary instead of dry food.
As your cat ages, regular veterinary care also becomes more and more important. Your veterinarian can help you monitor any weight gain or loss, as well as giving you nutrition recommendations according to your cat’s individual needs. With proper prevention and care, you can ensure your cat lives to a healthy, old age.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.
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