Last Updated on July 27, 2023 by Pets Feed
Like humans, animals can change their eating habits and appetite over the years. Not to mention the fact that a kitten has certain nutritional needs, while an older cat has others. Let’s try to unravel the most common questions and misconceptions in this area.
When a cat is considered a senior?
The tricky question is: which cat should be considered elderly? As in humans, among animals there are both vigorous pensioners and young people who have aged early. On average, you can focus on the seven-year milestone, overcoming the fact that most cats fall into the category of elderly people. But here, too, everything is very individual. Let’s say that cats that regularly give birth age earlier. The same applies to animals that were lucky enough to live on the street: even six months of “garbage” food can greatly age the body. And if your ten-year-old cat can jump into the closet without running and win a fair fight against a neighbor’s doberman, he, like Carlson, may well be considered “at his peak”.
Age classification and food production
However, there is a more detailed age classification of cats, similar to that of humans:
- The average age is 7 to 10 years old;
- Elderly (senior) – from 10 to 14 years old;
- The geriatric age is old, corresponds to a human age from 76 years old) – cats over 15 years old.
At the same time, food manufacturers usually do not take this gradation into account and create a single Senior food line for cats over 7 years old. As a rule, these same foods are intended for feeding overweight pets and (often) spayed and neutered cats and cats, regardless of age.
Features of age-related foods from different manufacturers
It should be noted that different manufacturers have different approaches to the creation of specialized power lines. Some separate diets for cats and older cats, others – food for sterilized cats and sterilized cats, which are suitable for “older” animals. Sometimes a brand offers a single food for all the above categories of pets, with the only difference in the feeding rates (for the elderly, the portions are usually smaller).
Associated diseases: feeding of spayed and neutered elderly animals
Another story is that of cats with chronic diseases. As a rule, these animals pass earlier into the category of elderly people. If you constantly feed a sick animal with a special medicated feed prescribed by a veterinarian, do not worry about a possible nutritional deviation for age – veterinary food is produced on the basis of a diagnosis. The main thing is to follow the prescribed feeding rate.
From two to seven…
It would seem that it could be simpler: we take quality food of the “holistic” class, we look for the inscription “for cats over 7 years old” and the retired cat is satisfied. What if the cat is 15 years old or older? Can a 20-year-old cat be fed the same way as a 7-year-old cat?
Manufacturers usually distinguish three power supply lines:
- For kittens (up to 1 year old);
- For adult cats from 1 to 7 years old;
- For cats over 7 years old.
This is quite logical, because cats live on average up to 15 years, and at the age of 7 the “life premium” passes, after which progressive aging begins. Now, if veterinarians were engaged in the production of animal feed, they would probably make 15 separate rations – one for each year of the animal’s life :). But producers must optimize production, make the feed line optimal and not complicate the lives of their customers. Therefore, they set standards for the transition from childhood to adulthood and from adult to elderly people.
Age-related changes in the body of cats
What changes occur in the body of a cat with age:
- Reduced ability to absorb certain nutrients;
- The sense of smell becomes less acute;
- The efficiency of the kidneys decreases;
- There may be “age-related” heart problems;
- The cat becomes less active, which can lead to weight gain.
These factors directly affect the choice of food for an “elderly” cat. Therefore, taking into account the above, the following recommendations can be made:
- A healthy and active cat of normal weight, including a spayed/neutered cat, we recommend switching to senior food after 10 years.
- Overweight cat or cat and possible age-related problems, we advise you to switch to the elderly diet after 7 years.
- Spayed or neutered cats prone to overweight, as well as spayed (neutered) cats and cats older than 3-4 years, it is better to start giving low-calorie food immediately after spaying/neutering.
But what is the difference between the composition of food for cats of different ages? Thus, kittens need more protein and carbohydrates, and older cats usually need less (so as not to overload the kidneys). Food for active middle-aged cats usually contains a sufficient amount of fat and is usually quite high in calories. Elderly pets do not need a lot of calories.
In this case, the owner should always monitor the amount of food that the animal eats. Thus, cats older than 10 years can, for various reasons, lose their appetite, lose weight, which is not the best option for the development of events. In this case, it is better to choose a more caloric food in order to compensate for the lack of ingested amount.
Where did the appetite go?
The tastes of any pet are formed in youth. Therefore, if your cat is used to eating a quality “holistic” product from a reliable manufacturer, no problem, just change the food as he grows / ages. But even in this case, some cats, due to a loss of smell (food loses its attractiveness) or problems with teeth, may begin to eat worse with age.
It is more difficult if the animal entered the family as an adult. Sometimes it can be difficult to wean a cat from such tasty (and equally harmful) boiled paws or pollock with oatmeal. If the cat is not many years old, it is better to choose the right food and wean it from food from the table.
But if the age of the animal that appeared in the family has exceeded about ten, it is most likely that his body has already adapted to nutrition, and perhaps it is better not to force him to change his eating habits. But the last word, in any case, goes to the veterinarian, who will assess the animal’s state of health and develop a diet or a diet adapted to it.
At petsfeed.co , we do not approve of owners who feed animals “at the table”, because we believe that every extra minute spent with a pet is priceless. But a well-chosen diet plays an important role in the longevity of pets!
When the teeth are no longer the same: how to feed a toothless cat
Often older cats do not eat well because they are capricious. For example, if your cat has age-related dental problems, it may be difficult to chew granules (even the smallest ones). As a result, the animal either refuses food completely, or swallows the granules whole, which is dangerous (you can choke) and, in general, harmful to the gastrointestinal tract. A very simple life hack can help here. After pouring the food into a bowl, add a teaspoon of water (no more!) and mix. The granules will become slightly softer and easier to chew.
If you notice that your cat has gotten worse from eating dry food, you can supplement her diet with wet food. They, in addition to comfort for the teeth, provide the cat with an additional source of water. This is especially important for “older” animals, who often drink less than they should, which is fraught with dehydration and possible stone formation.
If a decrease in the sense of smell is added to the problems with teeth, you can completely transfer the animal to wet food. But here it should be taken into account that not all wet food for cats is complete, so you need to study the composition or clarify this issue when choosing and buying food.
It is believed that when pets (cats and dogs) gnaw dry food granules, they thereby clean their teeth, thereby preventing the appearance of plaque and, subsequently, tartar. In some cases, this is true. But this does not mean that it is enough to feed the cat with dry food to ensure complete prevention of diseases of the teeth and gums. We recommend that you regularly examine your mouth for stones and inflammations, pay attention to mouth odors or loss of appetite. And brush your cat’s teeth regularly with special products.
One more question often worries those who could not (did not have time, mixed the packages in the store, etc.) buy the necessary food for an “aged” cat. So what happens if a fifteen-year-old cat is given kitten food? We want to reassure you: nothing terrible will happen in the short term. Therefore, a tip: if you suddenly did not manage to buy food from a familiar brand, take a high-quality kitten food for an old cat. In any case, it’s healthier than buying age-appropriate “economy class” food at the supermarket.
Conclusions: the best food for senior cats
- Older cats are usually considered after 7 years, but this bar is very individual. Choose the food according to your pet and the advice of your veterinarian.
- Food for elderly cats is usually less caloric and contains less protein to reduce the load on the kidneys.
- If an elderly cat is given kitten food, he will not be poisoned. The reverse is also true.
- High-quality factory foods of the Holistic class are definitely better than “human” foods.
- Decreased appetite in older cats is often associated with dental health and a less acute sense of smell than in younger cats
- Provide an adequate supply of water for the elderly cat.
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