If you have a senior kitty, you may have wondered what is the best cat food for older cats. Our pets are no different to us, except they age faster! Choosing a diet that meets nutritional requirements for your cat’s aging body is vital for her health.
In this post you’ll discover why your cat needs certain nutrients not required by other mammals, and what makes food labeled “senior” special. In addition, you’ll learn why certain health problems benefit from prescription diets.
Plus, we’ll look at a few of the best cat foods for older cats as well as prescription diets. It’s always best to ask your vet’s advice if you’re not sure. Some breeds of cat are best suited to specific foods, and we’ll briefly touch on that here as well.
When does your kitty become a senior?
Unlike humans, most older cats don’t look much different from their younger friends. Wrinkles and grey hair aren’t seen in elderly felines! However, they’re still aging, and experiencing similar physical changes to us.
Cats are thought to enter middle age between the ages of 6-10 years old. Above that age you may notice your feline friend starting to slow down. As with humans, senior years can bring health problems, and this is when specific nutrients become more important.
Why your cat needs certain essential nutrients in her diet
Cats require certain essential nutrients to keep healthy. If these are missing, your kitty may start to develop health problems. Whether your cat is a lively youngster or an aging senior she will need these every day.
Taurine is an amino acid that’s manufactured by most mammals with cats being the exception. You’ll find it in all packaged cat food including wet and dried. In addition, your cat needs calcium, iodine, manganese, phosphorus, and a few other trace elements.
What foods are best for your senior?
As the aging process advances your cat may benefit from slightly modified foods. These are labeled “senior” and contain high quality protein and added Vitamin E. In addition, these age specific cat foods contain fewer calories.
This is because, just like people, they slow down. You may not notice your cat becoming less active as it’s very gradual. She may start spending more time indoors, especially during colder weather. Unfortunately, inactivity increases the likelihood of obesity with added pressure being put on joints.
It’s also a good idea to supplement your cat’s diet with omega3 fish oil. This is easily available and may help keep joints supple as well as protect heart health. Always use supplements designed specifically for cats and dogs.
Similar to elderly humans, the ability to smell and taste food can fade a little. You may notice your cat starts to lose interest in eating, and needs encouragement as she enters her senior years.
In addition, many cats suffer pain and discomfort from dental disease as well as the loss of a few teeth. Providing your cat with soft, easy to chew foods is the best idea. Also, look for foods with a higher meat content and less cereal.
Tempting your senior at meal times
Having the experience of caring for a senior cat I know how difficult meal times can be. I always found giving smaller servings seemed to help. Imagine how you’d feel if you weren’t hungry and a large plate of food was put in front of you. I’m sure you’d feel overwhelmed.
Petting your cat as you put food in front of her may help encourage her to eat. It always seemed to work for my last cat who lived to 17 years old.
In addition, a tasty can of tuna in spring water provides a tasty treat. You could even try mixing a little bit in with her regular food. Storing food in the fridge can destroy some of the taste, so a good idea is to keep any opened packets at room temperature. Store in a box, or cover with tin foil, ready for the next serving.
A selection of best cat food for older cats
The following foods are recommended by me based on my own opinion and research. There’s no guarantee your cat will like any of them as we all know how fussy cats are. However, they are all high quality, and designed for older cats.
Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult, Sensitive Stomach & Skin
Hill’s are a trusted name and many veterinary clinics sell Hill’s pet foods. This food is ideal for an older cat as it’s designed to support sensitive stomachs.
Many kitties develop sensitive tummies as they start to age. If not addressed, this can lead to weight loss and poor nutrition.
Your cat’s nutritional requirements will have changed as mentioned previously. Hill’s science dry cat food contains prebiotics to improve gut health, which can be poorer in seniors. Many diseases start in the gut, and this applies to humans as well as cats.
In addition, Vitamin E and Omega 6 fatty acids are also added to help nourish skin and promote heart health. As the food is made from natural ingredients your cat will be more inclined to eat. She may also enjoy greater energy and improved health.
Chicken is easier to digest for older adults, and many vets recommend chicken and rice for upset tummies. It helps build strength and is low in calories.
You can also get grain free and salmon with yellow pea. Packs are available in several sizes so you can try Science diet without buying large quantities.
A few customers didn’t like the recent change in kibble size. While, a few others found the kibbles hard for their cats to chew, especially with missing teeth.
Average rating 4.6 out of 5
Iams Proactive Health High Protein Adult Cat Food with Chicken & Salmon
Iams is another trusted brand of cat food that’s been around for a while. Made from high quality proteins with the addition of prebiotics it provides great support for your older feline friend’s gut health
Salmon and chicken are both high in protein as well as essential nutrients. This helps keep your cat in good health during her senior years.
Senior cats are more likely to produce hairballs and suffer skin problems than their younger friends. Iams contains natural ingredients which help support digestion. This may help reduce hairballs. In addition, as it’s additive free you can be confident your cat isn’t exposed to harmful toxins.
Some buyers reported their cats wouldn’t eat the food, however, you can always try a small size first. As I’ve mentioned before, cats can be very finicky!
Average rating 4.6 out of 5
Purina ONE Sensitive Systems Adult Dry Cat Food
Purina ONE claim to support nutritional requirements for all ages. Sensitive systems is ideal for older cats as it contains a blend of antioxidants including Vitamins E and A. These help strengthen the immune system and support skin health.
In addition, omega 6 helps support your cat’s heart. As Iams food contains 36 grams of protein, your cat may benefit from increased muscle strength. Weaker muscles are common in senior cats due to inactivity.
With the addition of real carrots and peas your older cat will benefit from added vitamins and minerals in her diet. Plus, they enhance flavour. As a matter of fact, peas are one of the healthiest vegetables for both cats and humans.
I don’t suggest you serve your kitty bowlfuls of cooked peas, but when added to food they can provide good nutrition. Iams claim their kibbles are tasty, but I don’t think they’ve tried them! However, there are many buyers who seem very satisfied.
As with any cat food products, there are a few buyers who reported their cats wouldn’t eat it, but most reported their cats loved Iams kibbles.
Average rating 4.7 out of 5
Choosing the best food for your older cat
Hopefully now you understand a bit more about how cats age and why their nutritional needs are different. Of course, health problems will determine certain dietary requirements, but for most cats, the foods I’ve suggested will be fine.
Lastly,some cat owners are now trying their hand at home made cat food. It’s easier than it sounds though I’ve never tried making any. However, as long as you choose quality foods that contain the right nutrition for your kitty you’ll be fine.
Always introduce new foods gradually, especially with older felines. Feed your cat small amounts to start with. Mix a little in with her regular food, and gradually increase the new food.
Cats are more likely to accept a new food if it’s introduced gradually. Always buy a small box to start with, as that way you’ll waste less if your kitty takes a dislike to it.
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Wishing you a purrfect day:)