It is so important for us to care for our cats during all stages of their lives, including the time that they officially become senior cats.
Senior cats have different needs than their younger counterparts, and it is crucial to give them food that delivers the right amount of nutrients and protein.
Choosing the right food for your senior cat does not need to be a stressful experience. There are plenty of options out there!
Before we get into a comprehensive guide to choosing the proper food for your senior cat, we need to talk about some critical points to understand concerning your senior cat.
At What Age Is A Cat Considered A Senior Cat?
According to Pet Health Network, cats are considered senior once they reach nine years old. Cats between the ages of nine and thirteen are seniors, and cats over fourteen years are considered geriatric.
If cared for properly, many cats can live and thrive well into their golden years! Here is a comprehensive chart of how old your cat is in human years so you can see exactly how old your feline friend is.
Just like humans, cats begin to exhibit certain behaviors and traits that mark them as older. They will start to slow down, might become a little more finicky and start to cherish their routine.
Just because your cat is older does not mean that he or she can’t stay active. Senior cats might need a little more stimulation, but with some creativity, you can engage them in play.
This YouTube video offers some excellent tips for keeping your feline friend active and happy.
Signs That Your Cat Is Becoming A Senior Cat
In addition to age, there are plenty of other factors that indicate that your cat is getting more advanced in years.
Most cats go through periods of illness or lethargy at some point during their lives, but there are a few traits that senior cats exhibit that show their owners that they’re getting up there in age. We’ve outlined some common traits that senior cats exhibit.
These are totally normal and simply mean that your older feline friend just needs a little extra love as they get further into their twilight years.
- Older cats can be a little more irritable than their younger counterparts.
- Senior cats sometimes experience some lack of mobility and stiffness.
- Some older cats have issues with jumping and climbing.
- Senior cats can develop age-related bumps. Always check with your vet if you see something suspicious.
- Some senior cats will be lethargic and sleep much more than they used to.
- Obesity is a problem for older cats.
- Some senior cats will suffer from age-related illnesses like diabetes and arthritis.
How Do I Feed A Senior Cat
According to Purina, most cats spend about forty percent of their lives as a senior or geriatric cat. Keeping your feline friend happy and healthy through this major part of their lives is critical to their quality of life.
What you feed your older cat is a huge part of caring for them properly. All cats have different tastes and preferences but there are some cardinal rules to follow when feeding a senior cat.
- You need to feed your senior cat proper food. Regular cat food will not work for older cats with specific dietary needs.
- Many senior cats have sensitive teeth and need softer food.
- Your older cat will need to eat several times a day, but be sure to give them smaller portions when you feed them.
- Senior cats like food that is at room temperature.
- Older cats can dehydrate easily, so make sure that your cat has plenty of water.
How Do I Deal With Food Allergies And Sensitivities In Senior Cats?
While food allergies are not exclusive to senior cats, many older cats suffer from sensitivities and allergies.
You might discover that your senior cat is exhibiting signs of sensitivity that they didn’t express when they were younger. That’s totally okay and a normal part of aging.
Just like people’s tastes and ability to process certain foods change through their lifetimes, so do cat’s tolerance for different foods. Keep an eye on how your cat is reacting to his or her diet and note any changes.
If you have any concerns about your cat you should visit your veterinarian, but many common allergies can be dealt with at home.
The number one thing to do is to discover and isolate the food that’s causing your cat all of his or her problems.
There are a few common allergies that cats tend to have, including milk, fish and beef products. Once you determine what is causing your cat to have an allergic reaction, you can easily cut it out of their diet.
If the problem persists, you should take your cat to their veterinarian as they might have a larger medical issue.
There are several signs of a mild allergic reaction in felines.
- Excessive or overly pungent flatulence could be the result of a food allergy.
- Your cat could lose some hair or start obsessively scratching at a certain spot.
- They might experience some earaches.
- Your cat could start wheezing or sneezing.
- You might notice that their skin looks red or irritated.
If your feline friend is having an allergic reaction that manifests itself in skin discomfort, you can ease their pain by giving them a warm bath and washing their fur with oatmeal-based, mild shampoo. More severe allergic reactions might need to be treated with medication.
What Are The Dietary Nutritional Requirements For My Senior Cat?
Senior cats need a slightly different diet than younger cats because their bodies can’t process certain nutrients and vitamins the same way that they used to.
Additionally, since senior cats are sometimes less active, it can be difficult to figure out what they need. Overfeeding your senior cat can result in obesity issues.
Older cats have problems processing and producing certain types of minerals and electrolytes, so it’s important to feed them food that is fortified with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Make sure that the cat food that you purchase is full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and antioxidants. These vitamins will play a big role in making sure that your cat stays active and healthy into their old age.
Why Do Older Cats Need More Protein?
Cats need plenty of protein in order to be healthy, but older cats have trouble processing protein as they did in their younger days. That’s why it is so important to select a cat food that is full of high-quality protein.
High-quality proteins are ingredients like beef, chicken, turkey or fish. Many times senior cats require a higher end brand of food because they require so much pure protein.
Giving your feline friend the right amount of protein will keep them from becoming lethargic and listless. It will also help them maintain their muscle tone well into older age.
How To Determine The Special Dietary Needs For Your Cat?
According to the ASPCA, cats have different needs at various times of their lives, so it’s important to pay attention to what your cat is telling you and give them the right food.
Senior cats have a host of common problems, mostly due to age-related issues. It is very common for older cats to experience issues with their skin and coat. Buying a cat food with Vitamin E in it will help restore the luster of your senior cat’s coat.
Many cats experience weakened or diminished muscle mass and arthritis. It’s important to make sure that your senior cat is comfortable and able to access certain areas, like windowsills, without too much effort. Older cats are not as agile as younger ones.
If your cat is noticeably more fragile, make sure that you are feeding them a formula that is high in good protein. High-quality protein will help your cat build and maintain good muscle mass.
On the other hand, if your cat is becoming more obese in his or her older age, make sure that the formula that you’re feeding them is not comprised of filler.
Your cat needs good ingredients to fuel their lifestyle, not a bunch of empty calories. Obesity is a really big problem for senior cats.
Cats with dental problems need a softer variety of food. If you notice that your senior cat is struggling to eat harder food, consider adding a little water or chicken broth to their meal, or even switching to wet food. Dental problems are common in older cats.
Understanding your cat’s special dietary needs really comes down to an understanding of your cat’s root problems, and a conversation with your veterinarian. There are plenty of formulas out there for all different kinds of senior cats.
What Should I Do If My Senior Cat Won’t Eat?
There are many reasons why a senior cat won’t eat. Some of these reasons are psychological and some are physical, but all of them need to be addressed in order to give your cat a good quality of life.
GI Tract Issues
GI (gastrointestinal) tract issues are painful occurrences that happen when your cat gets a little bit older. Your cat might have problems digesting the food and not want to eat as a result. GI tract issues manifest themselves in painful cramps or nausea.
If your cat is experiencing any type of gastrointestinal issues, make sure that you take him or her to the veterinarian as soon as possible. GI tract issues rarely fix themselves, and your cat needs medical assistance.
Kidney problems can be fairly serious for older cats, and one of the first signs that something is wrong is that your cat does not want to eat.
If your feline friend is having trouble with their kidneys they might have nausea and be more irritable than usual.
Sometimes, cats with kidney problems will even hide. If your cat exhibits any of these strange behaviors make sure that you get him or her to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
An Increase In Anxiety
Sometimes cats will refuse to eat because they have an increase in their anxiety levels. Cats are creatures of habit and do not like change. Senior cats are even more set in their ways.
If your cat stops eating, consider anything that might have changed in his or her environment. Generally thinking about things from the cat’s point of view will give you a good insight into how to fix the problem.
Some cats will not eat because their teeth hurt. Dental illnesses can cause all sorts of food aversions, specifically because it is painful for your feline friend to eat.
Senior cats suffer from sensitive or bad teeth and might have trouble chewing harder pellets of food. If your cat is refusing to eat switch up the food and see if their behavior changes.
Should I Give My Senior Cat Supplements?
Unless your veterinarian specifically suggests that you give your senior cat supplements, you should shy away from experimenting with various types of supplements.
You might accidentally give your cat too much of a type of supplement and inadvertently hurt them. Many cat foods are already fortified with tons of different types of supplements, so tread carefully.
If your cat is deficient in a certain area and your veterinarian suggests that you should add a supplement to your cat’s routine, feel free to add it. Never proceed without a veterinarian’s blessing.
How Do I Handle Obesity In My Senior Cat?
According to Hills Pet, most of the cats in the United States are overweight. With statistics like that, it is highly likely that your cat will experience a weight problem at some point during their life.
Senior cats are even more likely to be obese because they are less active. They are also often overfed by well-meaning owners.
Female cats and cats that are neutered or spayed are far more likely to have obesity issues because their metabolism is lower. That does not mean that if you have a senior spayed female cat that she is destined to have weight problems!
You can counteract your cat’s metabolism by feeding him or her small amounts of food at more frequent intervals throughout the day.
Many owners will dump a lot of cat food into their pet’s bowl and leave it there all day long, assuming that the cat will stop eating when he or she is full. Unfortunately, many cats will overeat and pack on the pounds.
Additionally, resist the urge to feed your cat from the table. Human food is not good for our feline friends, and the more that you feed your cat from the table the more they will expect it.
You can also help keep your cat’s weight down by exercising with him or her regularly. Make sure that you set aside a lot of time to play with your cats.
Is Kitten Food Bad For Older Cats?
Feeding your senior cat regular cat food could deprive them of necessary nutrients, but kitten food is another story. Surprisingly, kitten food is not that bad for older cats!
That’s because kitten food is packed with nutrients that help little cats grow into their full potential. Senior cats need plenty of protein, so kitten food is a decent option for them.
The only really big problem with kitten food is that it is also usually packed with calories. Playful and energetic kittens have no problem burning off all of these extra calories, but senior cats are a different story.
If you have the option to feed your senior cat adult cat food, opt for special adult formulas instead of kitten food.
Why Is My Older Cat Always Hungry?
A senior cat who is always hungry could be suffering from a medical issue and should see a veterinarian. Senior cats are especially at risk for hyperthyroidism which is a gland issue that can be treated.
If your cat is hungry and has diarrhea, vomiting and is really thirsty, it is time for them to see your local veterinarian.
According to the Pet Health Network, hyperthyroidism is treatable with veterinarian prescribed medication and is not life-threatening.
Your veterinarian might suggest that your feline friend goes on a special diet to help him or her with their condition.
It is much better to have hyperthyroidism diagnosed earlier rather than later. It can be an unpleasant condition for your feline friend.
What Special Nutritional Components Will Protect My Cat Against Age-Specific Diseases?
Older cats need more protein, so make sure that their food has plenty of high-quality protein in it. As cats age, they are less able to properly maintain muscle mass, so plenty of protein is absolutely essential to their growth.
Protein is also a great source of taurine, which helps your cat’s heart function optimally. Animal-based products like beef or chicken also contain plenty of amino acids that help your cat thrive and continue to be strong and flexible into older age.
If you think that your cat is experiencing more muscle loss than is normal, you might want to look for a food that is fortified with extra amino acids and taurine. These ingredients will help your feline friend thrive at their best.
What Are Some Things To Consider When Choosing A Senior Cat Food?
According to The Spruce Pets, you want to look for products that have plenty of high-quality protein, fatty acids, and high water content.
Water is important for senior cats because their bodies retain less of it as they get older, and it generally makes their food a little bit softer. Look for food that is hydrating, and remember to keep plenty of fresh water out for your cat.
Avoid foods with a lot of “by-products” and fillers. Your cat doesn’t need anything like that. Also, many people try to shy away from chemicals and any animal-products that aren’t meat, like ground up a bone meal.
Although these things won’t hurt your cat specifically, they also won’t help him or her be their best. If you want your cat to thrive well into older age, you need to feed them the appropriate type of food.
The Best Cat Food For Older Cats Buying Guide
There are plenty of different foods that you can feed your senior feline friend to keep them happy and healthy.
Your cat will help you make the decision by letting you know which foods they like best. Many senior cats have clear preferences, so let your feline friend and your budget be your guide.
How Much Should I Feed My Older Cat?
Older cats need smaller servings of food more times during the day. If you are feeding your cat wet food, you can generally give him or her one three-ounce can per day.
If you are feeding your cat dry food, try to give them half a cup per serving. You will be able to estimate whether this is enough or too much by how your cat reacts to being fed.
If you see any extreme changes or find that your cat is not eating at all, or craving too much, remember to check with your veterinarian.
What Is The Best Food To Feed Senior Cats?
There is no single best food to feed senior cats because all cats are different. Some cats prefer wet or dry food, and some have health issues that prohibit them from eating certain varieties of food.
What Is The Best Dry Cat Food For Older Cats?
There are plenty of choices when it comes to selecting the best dry cat food for older cats, but the best option in our view is Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free Natural Mature Dry Cat Food.
This food is packed with natural, high-quality protein and will boost your cat’s muscle mass and give them tons of energy. It is also fortified with a little extra taurine, which is necessary for older cats who can’t process protein as well as their younger counterparts.
- This brand features real meat from high-quality sources like chicken and turkey for a boost of taurine.
- There are virtually no fillers in this cat food.
- Some cats have problems digesting this food, so it is not great for those with sensitive stomachs.
- This food is a little bit pricier than other options.
What Is The Best Wet Food For Senior Cats?
Wet food is great for senior cats because it is so easy for them to chew and digest. There are plenty of varieties to choose from, but we love Purina Pro Plan Focus Urinary Tract Health Adult Canned Wet Cat Food.
Not only is it packed with tons of high-quality protein and the amino acids that your cat needs to thrive, but it also aids in urinary tract health.
Many senior cats suffer from urinary tract infections and this formula is a delicious way to address that problem.
- This tasty wet food has high-quality protein so your feline friend is getting plenty of amino acids when they eat it.
- It is made with real cuts of chicken.
- It promotes urinary tract health.
- Cats with sensitive stomachs might not be able to digest this formula.
- It can cause excessive flatulence in cats.
What Is The Best Cat Food For Older Cats With Sensitive Stomachs Or Those Who Vomit Often?
As our feline friend’s age, they sometimes have issues with vomiting or overly sensitive stomachs. Regular cat food can be a little bit too powerful for them.
For cats who had sensitive stomachs, problems with vomiting or gastrointestinal issues we like Halo Holistic Natural Dry Cat Food for Adult Cats with Sensitive Stomachs.
It is made with quality ingredients and absolutely no filler, so your cat will be eating only the highest quality fish and meat.
There are also plenty of vegetables packed in there for additional nutrients. This company also prides itself on buying animal products from humane farms.
- This senior cat food is only made with ingredients from humane farms.
- The meat used in this food is of the highest quality and there is no filler added at all.
- The formula is specifically designed to aid digestion, so cats with sensitive stomachs will be able to eat this food without any problems.
- This formula is a lot more expensive than other varieties.
- Some consumers have complained that there are insect parts in this cat food.
What Is The Best Cat Food For Older Cats With Bad Teeth?
Many older cats suffer from dental problems that can cause them serious discomfort. Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Oral Sensitive 30 Dry Cat Food is a great option for cats that have dental issues.
Even though it’s a dry food it is soft enough for cats to eat it without causing them serious discomfort. It can even be softened up with a little water to make it more palatable to cats with serious dental problems.
- This food is a great option for cats who have dental problems as it is soft enough for them to enjoy easily.
- This formula also acts to eliminate hairballs.
- The food itself helps clean your senior cat’s teeth and gently removes tartar.
- This particular food is much more expensive than other varieties.
- Some people complain that even though the pellets are soft enough that they are too large.
What Is The Best Cat Food For Older Cats With Kidney Problems?
Kidney problems are serious in senior cats, and if your cat suffers from these sorts of issues, he or she will need a special type of food.
Blue Wilderness Wild Delights High Protein Grain Free Wet Cat Food Chicken And Salmon Meaty Morsels Entrée is an excellent choice for cats who suffer from kidney problems. It is easy to digest and good for cats with sensitive stomachs. The formula is also delicious!
- This cat food is made with high-quality protein and plenty of amino acids for optimal kidney health.
- The food is designed to be easy to digest and is very soft, so cats will have no problem eating it.
- The unique packaging of this food ensures that it stays fresh.
- Some people find the gravy to be a little on the messy side.
- This food is more expensive than other varieties.
All senior cats are different, and there is no one food that is perfect for all of them. It’s important to test different varieties on your older feline friend and determine which one is the best for him or her.
Always check with your veterinarian before making any major diet adjustments, and if your cat is exhibiting any very strange behavior, make sure that you take them in to see a medical professional right away.
These days, our feline friends can be by our sides for twenty years or longer if they get the proper care.
Make their golden years the best they can be by giving them the highest quality food. Feeding them the proper food will help them thrive and stay energetic well into their senior years!