As cats age, they often gain weight or face several health issues that can reduce your beloved pet’s longevity and can be fatal. This aging threshold is placed when your cat turns 7 years old. Even though cats live longer (up to 16 years), their bodies change as they age, exposing them to common health issues such as arthritis, kidney disease, dental issues, and hyperthyroidism. The easiest way to ensure your cat’s health and keep them from gaining weight and health issues is by focusing on their nutrition and feeding them a balanced diet. Since there are several aspects involved in feeding aging felines, new owners often face this conundrum.
Here are some effective feeding tips to ensure your aging feline’s health.
Needless to say, counting calories is equally necessary for both animals and humans to maintain body weight and stay fit. As mentioned, older cats are prone to obesity and thyroid issues. Failing to fulfill your cat’s daily calorie requirements can reduce their lifespan. As cats age, they are likely to eat less. In such cases, you may need to increase their calorie count while maintaining a balanced diet. However, older cats tend to move less and undergo less physical activity, which can directly affect their body weight. Consult your vet to determine your cat’s calorie intake based on their current health condition.
Focus on their Water Intake
While focusing on water intake is necessary for all pets, it is specifically necessary for older cats as they are prone to kidney issues. Most of the time, kidney disease in felines creeps in slowly and can turn into a silent killer. Focus on their water intake as it can help flush out harmful toxins. While providing fresh water at all times is of utmost importance, you must also watch the amount of water your cat drinks. If you notice them drinking less than the recommended daily water intake, lure them into drinking canned tuna juice by mixing it in their water. A pet fountain or a dripping faucet can also work. To increase their water intake, keep water bowls in every room, especially the ones that your cat visits every day.
Feed Hydrolyzed Cat Food
With age, most cats and dogs develop food allergies and are hypersensitive to their surroundings. To reduce the risk, invest in hydrolyzed protein cat food that is suitable for hypoallergenic diets. Such foods break down allergic components and make it easier for your cat to digest and enjoy them. Certain foods and diets are designed to comply with the changing needs of aging felines and contain lower levels of sodium and phosphorus to prevent kidney diseases. Some senior foods also encourage friendly gut bacteria to improve your cat’s digestive system.
Consider Portion Control
When switching your cat’s diet from ‘adult’ to ‘senior’, you must pay attention to portion control. This will not only help your cat stay fit but also keep them from feeling overwhelmed by the sudden change. Once a cat turns old, they may lose some sense of smell and taste. For this, you must serve food that is either at room temperature or slightly heated.
Provide a Balanced Diet
Just like counting calories is necessary to stay fit for all living beings, a balanced diet is needed to ward off health issues. Your cat can graze on nutritional dry food all day and can be fed wet food at the recommended time intervals. Occasional treats can also be offered unless they do not exceed the daily calorie count.
Pay Attention to Food Labels
Lastly, you must also pay attention to the type of food you buy for your feline. Most cat food brands provide a balanced diet for growing and senior cats. However, you must make it a habit to check every food label as they differ in nutritional quality and portion measurements. Since every pet food manufacturer is obliged to add nutritional information on food labels, as indicated by the FDA, you can easily learn about the feeding instructions, the nutritional adequacy statement, ingredients, and guaranteed analysis (the percentage of nutrients). Since most food labels do not distinguish between adult and senior pet foods, you must pay specific attention to them.
By implementing these tips, you can ensure that your cat will live longer and maintain a healthy weight. As soon as your cat turns seven years old, they will be placed in the senior category and their diet will also change. All in all, feed a balanced diet, focus on calorie count, and pay attention to the water intake. You must also take your cat for regular vet checkups once every 6 months.