What to look for when selecting the best senior cat foods

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If you are one of those lucky pet owners who have spent many years with their furballs and are fortunate enough to have a senior cat presently, you must also know that the nutritional needs are different at every stage of a pet’s life. Finding the best senior cat foods is probably one of the most critical things to keep your senior cat healthy.

This article will tell you about the best senior cat food and why you need a different food plan for your senior cat. This move will increase the health and life of your beloved feline.

Best senior cat food based on nutritional requirements for adult cats

According to Andrea Fascetti, Ph.D., a UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine professor, cats are mammals with different nutritional needs. These mammals require the following set of dietary requirements throughout their life. However, the intensity and number could get different at other age groups.  

Fiber and Carbohydrates

Plants, legumes, and seeds are abundant and essential sources of carbs and fiber. These two ingredients help the cat to perform daily activities with adequate energy. And they also aid in a healthy digestive system

Vitamins

Folic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin A, D, E, with K, B1, B6, and B12 are the organic compounds to aid senior cats. The main component in digestive system immunity and bone growth. They also fulfill essential body needs.

Amino acids and Proteins

Cats need protein and amino acids to live a happy and healthy life. The amino acid and proteins of almost all kinds are available in meat and fish. The central part of poultry and other proteins is also helpful for your senior cat throughout all of their age. Therefore, you cannot skip protein ingredients from the daily food of your cats. 

You need to provide 12.5 g of protein to your adult cats daily. This is because kitten diets and adult cats are different. After all, kittens can survive on the fluid early in life. But once they are three weeks older, you need to shift them to dry or wet food, continuing the adequate amount of protein and amino acids for solid growth.

Fatty acids and fats

Seed oil and animal fat is the best source of vitamin solvent fat. The cat needs fat and fatty acids for a healthy coat and good skin. Cats cannot make their fat, and they need food enriched with these two ingredients. Beware of the excess amount of fat and fatty acid as it will result in obesity. 

Minerals

There are many types of different minerals that your cat needs. Cat food manufacturers add these minerals with a mix of vitamins to fulfill their dietary needs. 

Water

Just like humans, cats also need water daily. NRC provides the guidelines that your cat needs 2 ml of water per gram of dry food. Place a bowl of fresh water that has easy access to your cats. And they will drink according to their needs. 

Information about best senior cat food

You will not find any AAFCO designation for senior cats. There is no expert-recommended senior cat outline to help you find the right age and balance between the cat’s condition. The senior cats are older adults, and their food has slight variations in the adult cat food.

According to Professor Joseph Bartges of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens, Georgia, things are evident in senior cat cases. When looking for senior cat food, you will see low protein, high fiber diet plans. Well, new studies refute this old method and come up with robust and specialized diet plans.

He further reveals that the senior cat food is dependent solely on the health conditions of your cat. If your old feline is suffering from diabetes, kidney, or other severe diseases, the diet plan will accordingly have a nutrient plan. But, unfortunately, vets cannot recommend a single diet plan to every senior cat out there. 

Advantages and disadvantages of best senior cat food

Advantages:

First, we will talk about the advantages of the senior cat diet. 

Vets mostly recommend cat food with high antioxidants to senior cats. These antioxidants are a boost for the declining immune system of your beloved senior cat in old age. 

The best thing vets focus on is to offer easy-to-digest ingredients in food. A growing cat will need food to aid the digestive system and help the gut extract more nutrients. 

Another most significant benefit of senior cat food is that your cat receives a high-energy diet. After the age of 10, your feline friend will witness weight loss or joint pain. The change in the diet plan will offer high-energy food to regain body weight and enhanced strength in joints for a healthy life. 

Disadvantages:

We don’t have much for the disadvantages of senior cat food, as the diet plan is built according to the cat’s needs. But still, there are one or two issues that can create some complexities for your cat. 

Note: Slowly introduce the new diet plan. Hence you will disturb. Your cat’s digestive system by introducing the senior cat food too fast. The change in the food must be gradual and could take a month or two. Senior cat food could affect your cat’s metabolism and make the cat fat or Lean within days to cause health issues. 

When to switch to senior cat food

If you are looking for a definitive answer to this question in number values, there is none. According to vets and experts, there is no exact age recommendation for starting senior food for your cat. It all depends on the needs and requirements of that individual cat. 

Experts say that you don’t need any diet changes if your cat maintains body weight and good health conditions. However, if your cat is gaining weight, you need to keep your cat active and healthy. In such a situation, you need to shift towards low energy and high fiber diet. 

It is alarming if your cat has aged significantly and is now losing weight without changing diet or exercise. You need to shift towards a calorie-dense diet. This food will provide the necessary energy to your cat for maintaining weight and health.

When a cat is suffering from health issues, a change in diet is also necessary. For example, if your senior cat is suffering from diabetes or a kidney problem, changing the diet is required. You need to consult your vet for a new food plan. And regardless of the age of your cat, you must discuss your cat’s eating habits and nutrition with your vet.

The most important consideration regarding this shift is to go slow. According to our vets, you need to shift your cat very slowly towards the new diet plan. The gradual moves will ensure that your senior cat is adjusting its metabolism according to the new diet. 

Other senior cat food factors

According to cat food experts, you must keep the following in mind while shifting to senior cat food.

  • Maintaining their health
  • Neutralize ideal body weight
  • Slowing down chronic diseases
  • Preventing illnesses
  • Lessening the symptoms of existing disease

Never ignore any of these factors in cat food due to health problems that can occur.

Taste and smell

Cats are creatures of habit, and they rarely change their eating habits at old age. Therefore, when you want to shift to a new diet plan, you must ensure that the ingredients appeal to your cats. If your cat is not attracted to the aroma and taste of the food, you might feel disappointed. 

The taste and smell of the feline also decline in old age. Your cat will only eat food that they enjoy. Going for food with less flavor and an unusual odor might not be very helpful for the senior cat food transition. 

Texture

Texture relates to the thickness or sensation when you eat the food you get. The texture is vital to cats who prefer wet or dry cat food. If your cat eats dry food from childhood, moving towards wet food once might not solve the issue. If your cat suffers from toothache or gum problems, giving them dry food will cause more pain.

Deciding the texture of the senior cat food depends entirely on your cat’s habits and needs. First, you must cover any health issues your cat might have. Next, you should take your cat to the vet for a checkup and decide the texture of the food accordingly.

Moisture in cat food

The moisture in wet food is also an important consideration. Your cat is a predator, and these mighty creatures are natural hunters. Therefore, cooked protein will have more moisture in the form of meat juices.

And if you want to appeal to their hunting instinct to make them eat more, you must enhance the amount of moisture in their food. The added water will make your pet feel like eating a freshly caught game. The added moisture also means more energy and calories for your senior cat. 

Best senior cat food for health issues

The untold truth about all cats is that in some way or form, you will eventually face health problems with your precious pet, and you need to adjust the diet plan according to their health condition. In this way, you will aid your feline in fighting the disease and ward off the signs. Following these tips will help you proactively avoid health conditions, and providing proper cat food will help you:

Allergies

The most common health issue that many senior cats face is food allergies. The symptoms of this condition are continuous itching, excessive shedding, and dermatitis. It becomes excruciating for the owners to see their cat suffering from this condition. 

The shift to hypoallergenic cat food will provide them relief from itching and dermatitis. And you will see an improvement in your cat’s coat and a reduction in hair shedding. 

Are you allergic to cats? Read about the best hypoallergenic cat breeds.

Obesity

According to experts, there are about 58% of cats in the U.S are obese. This number is dramatically increasing every year. Unfortunately, just like humans, cats also tend to gain excessive weight with unhealthy cat food. Obesity is the mother of various chronic diseases. That’s why you must be very cautious about the importance of your beloved cat. 

Overweight cats need to go on a nutritious diet or vet prescribed diet plan to manage weight. You can also help your cat by making them exercise and play with interactive toys to consume accumulated fat.

Diabetes

Vets and experts prohibit the use of dry food for diabetic cats. There is no water in the dry option, and they are filled with carbs. Wet food has essential moisture that helps diabetic cats quickly digest and hydrate while providing them crucial nutrition.

When your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, a specific diet plan made by a vet is the best thing you can offer to your furry companion. 

  1. Vets recommend a list of senior cat food
  2. BEST OVERALL

Best Senior Cat Foods

Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult

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  • Many pet owners found Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult cat food to be very successful with their cats.
  • Backed by science
  • High in Protein

Best for weight loss

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Management

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  • Budget friendly
  • No vet prescription required

Best for urinary health

Hill’s Science Diet Urinary Hairball Control

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  • Balanced magnesium levels
  • High water levels

Best for weight gain

Purina Pro Plan Critical Nutrition

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  • Smooth consistency
  • Cat favorite: Texture and taste 

Best for sensitive stomachs

Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care Chicken & Vegetable Stew Canned Cat Food

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  • Highly digestible
  • Reduced food sensitivities

The nutritional needs of an old cat depend on many factors we discussed above in the article, including its health status, weight, and physical activity. Before opting for new cat food, make sure to consult a veterinarian for the best advice.

References

https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/life-stage-feline-2021/nutrition-and-weight-management/mature-adult-and-senior-cats/

https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/feeding-your-senior-cat#1

https://www.petmd.com/cat/nutrition/evr_ct_older_animals_nutritional_needs

https://www.purina.co.uk/articles/cats/senior/care/caring-for-your-senior-cat

https://www.rover.com/blog/food-for-senior-cats/


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Author

Matt Uthaya

Current editor and managing partner at PersonalCat.com. Passionate cat lover and enthusiast, who has 12+ years of cat experience. With years of experience in the cat industry, he is ready to release new feline tips and tricks.

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