What should I feed an aging cat?

What should I feed an aging cat?
What should I feed an aging cat and how to feed an elderly cat?

You have shared with your beloved cat all these wonderful years of love, companionship, and fur on clothes, and now that he has aged, you have to make some changes in his care, in his routine but more importantly, changes in his nutrition.

Over the years, cats change their diet to meet the nutritional needs of the stage they are in.

A cat has a life expectancy of between 12 to 15 years, so it is important to learn how to take care of their diet when they are already old cats, and here we will answer the question: What should I feed an aging cat?

What should I feed an aging cat?

Technically, cats are considered adults at the age of one year and this will continue until the age of 6 years.

From the age of 8 years, they become less active and have a slower metabolism, which makes them need fewer calories. Therefore, they should have a diet that provides them with quality protein and is easily digested.

In order to know what to feed an aging cat, you must know what changes it is showing. Like more worn-out organisms, less exercise, sleep more and begin to present weakness in their bones and teeth.

Nutritional needs of older cats

At each stage of the animal's life, its nutritional needs change. An aging cat needs:

  • Extra supply of quality protein to help keep their muscles toned for as long as possible while avoiding physical weakness.
  • Low phosphorus concentration, protect their kidneys.
  • Control of calorie intake. Especially in the first years of old age, to avoid being overweight.
  • Carbohydrates are easily absorbed and provide energy.
  • Essential minerals to take care of joints.
  • Increase of essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6. They will help to take care of your cardiovascular system and also your joints.
  • Antioxidants such as vitamin E, strengthen your cat's immune system which may be declining.

Avoid calories

Only foods with natural essential fatty acids will be beneficial for them.

Avoid high-calorie food formulated for kittens and young cats; instead, look for foods that are formulated with the needs of an older cat in mind such as cat food.

Protein-rich diet

But it should not be just any protein, as it helps older cats to maintain a lean body mass. It is better if they are beef, chicken, turkey... They will be easier to digest and fish for their contribution to healthy acids.

Proteins are especially easy to digest for cats, since being carnivores they do not need carbohydrates to produce energy.

In case you decide to feed your aging cat with dry food, make sure that meat is at the top of the list of ingredients, know the percentage and check the label for animal by-products.

Easy digestion

The older cat's aging digestive system will benefit from ingredients that are easy to digest completely. 

The old cat's food is of high quality and is often mixed regularly with wet food as it facilitates digestion and absorption of nutrients. Older cats do not have as strong teeth as before, and this food will be easy for them to chew.

How to feed an older cat?

Easy to chew cat food

As elderly cats age, they lose bite strength, sense of smell, and taste. Some even lose some teeth, so their food must be easy to chew. 

When your senior cat's mouth suffers deterioration, he may suffer pain and discomfort, leading to loss of appetite and health problems such as hepatic lipidosis.

So you should cut their food into small pieces or moisten it a little with warm water.

Feeding schedule for senior cat

Offer him his food always at a regular time and several times a day with small amounts of food.

Divide your cat's daily amount of food into different portions, if you only give it to him in one, he may feel overwhelmed and give it up, causing the food to lose quality.

Give your older cat plenty of water

Water is very necessary for a aging cat's diet, but even more so during this stage of his life. Always leave fresh water in easy to access areas to avoid dehydration.

Older cats often lose the ability to feel thirsty, it may seem strange and unnatural but it is so. It is your duty to stimulate him to drink normally, to avoid kidney problems. About 30% of felines die from this cause.

Offer your foods he likes

In old age, cats can lose their appetite, so it is important to stimulate them with food that activates their senses.
If you give your cat wet food, it should always be at room temperature, and do not keep it in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours.

Dry food for aging cats

There are specific feeds for senior cats that cover all their nutritional needs.
They have fewer calories due to the decrease in physical activity and have more vitamins and antioxidants to delay aging.
During this stage you should keep a close eye on your cat's weight as his activity level may decrease, he will be more tired and unwilling to exercise, and without proper monitoring, this can lead to being overweight.
Therefore, your food should be fortified with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, EPA/DHA fatty acids, or green mussel extract.

Consult your veterinarian

It is normal for each cat to reach old age in a different way with different health conditions, conditions that are a reflection of the quality of life they have had.

There are cats that only suffer from typical problems of old age such as general wear and tear, deterioration of sight or hearing, while others tend to suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney problems, which require a special diet.

So if you are looking for a particular diet it is best to consult a veterinarian who will tell you what is the right cat food and feeding plan for your senior cat.

Why are my senior cat's eating habits changed?

Older cats have a variety of nutritional needs that differ from those of younger cats and when cats get older, it's normal for their appetite and eating habits to change with time.

Since cats age at different rates, you should familiarize yourself with your cat's behavioral and eating changes. 

Some potential major changes as your cat ages include: a decreased sense of smell, decreased sensitivity to thirst, decreased thyroid function, decreased saliva production, and tooth and gum deterioration. These changes can lead to many problems that range from obesity to insufficient food intake and weight loss.

Some cats lose interest in the food they once loved, while others want to eat less often than when they were younger.

However, older cats not eating, or eating well but losing weight can be worrying. 

You may also find that your older pet becomes more finicky as it ages.

Varied feeding throughout your cat's life will prevent a senior cat from addiction to a single food type. 

Try mixing dry cat food with wet if your cat denies one of the types.

My cat has changed and its diet must change too

Remember, between 7 and 12 years, it is necessary that their diet should change as follows:

Easily digested, complete, and balanced, maintain their well-being, and slow down the processes associated with aging.