Dietary proteins are needed to help maintain muscle mass and a good immune system to fight infections. It is therefore imperative that a senior cat’s diet contains a high percentage of a good quality protein that is easy to digest. A greater percentage of fat is also required to maintain energy levels.
Your top premium food brands all have diets specifically formulated for the senior cat. These contain lower levels of phosphate to help maintain kidney health, proteins and fats that are easier to digest, higher levels of antioxidants for improved immunity and bladder health, and higher levels of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support the skin and coat.
Cats are very good at hiding an underlying disease until it is too late. The progression of many of these diseases can be slowed down with the use of prescription diets prescribed by your vet. Older cats have a higher incidence of kidney disease, dental and oral disease, digestive upsets, cancer, osteoarthritis and behavioural changes. If your senior cat is showing signs of a decreased or even increased appetite, drinking more water than usual, show unusual urination behaviour, or is unable to groom themselves as much as they used to, these are sure signs that something is wrong and you should take your cat to the vet for a check-up.
- Encourage your senior cat to drink more water by offering more sources of water
- To encourage eating, feed smaller amounts more often away from younger cats
- Try feeding wet food that is soft and tasty for cats with oral disease
- Provide ramps and steps to windowsills and other favourite spots so that your cat can still enjoy eyeing out the family and the birds
- Place beds in sunny spots as senior cats usually have less insulating fat
- Invest in smaller litter trays that are easier to get in and out of
You are what you eat
Maintaining good health starts with nutrition and this is even more important in your senior cat. We want to keep them happy and youthful for as long as possible. Every cat owner has experienced first-hand how an ill ‘Sylvester’ transforms into a demented beast when trying to medicate him – and we want to avoid this additional stress by all means possible.
Text: Dr Kristen Lachenicht, veterinarian
The full article appears in the March issue of AnimalTalk.