Like humans, cats eventually reach a stage in their lives where the food they need to eat should be altered. This is usually the age when cats truly enter their senior years.
But, when should this transition take place, and what type of food should they be eating? Understanding your feline’s changing needs is paramount when it comes to keeping them healthy and happy as they age.
Starting Age for Senior Cat Food
The age at which cats should begin eating senior food ranges anywhere between 6 and 9 years. It heavily depends on each cat’s individual needs.
Accurately measuring a cat’s age can be difficult to do accurately, so consulting with your veterinarian about the best food for your cat is recommended.
Once your veterinarian has suggested a new food, it is important to look at the ingredients closely before purchasing.
There are several key nutrients cats need in their diets while in their senior years, which are essential for the proper functioning of their bodies.
Key Nutrients for Senior Cats
Protein is the most important part of any cat’s diet, regardless of their age. Nurturing your senior cat’s muscle mass is essential, as cats begin to become less active due to their age.
Cat foods specifically formulated for seniors typically have higher protein content than in earlier stages of life. This allows for the maintenance of strong and healthy muscles as cats age.
Speaking of protein, the quality of the protein source is also important. High-quality proteins such as chicken, canned or cooked fish, and even eggs are typically used as the main sources in senior cat foods.
As cats age, they often become less active and less able to digest their food. This is why senior cat food needs to have more fiber in it than food specifically designed for younger cats.
Fiber helps the digestive system break down food more efficiently, making it easier for cats to absorb all of the nutrients they need.
Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids are essential for all cats, but even more so for senior cats. The fatty acids help to support healthy skin and coat, as well as aiding with brain and eye health.
To ensure your senior cat is getting the fatty acids they need, look for senior cat food that contains both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in its ingredients list.
Vitamin B12 & Vitamin A
Vitamin B12 and Vitamin A are both imperative for healthy vision in cats. They can help to prevent age-related vision problems, which can become more common in older cats.
These vitamins are also believed to help improve cognitive function, as Vitamin B12 helps to regulate metabolism and improve nerve function.
L-Carnitine is an important amino acid that helps to regulate metabolism. It also helps to break down
fat, making it easier for cats to use the energy provided by the food they eat. L-Carnitine is found in most meats, but if your senior cat’s food does not contain enough of this amino acid, you can supplement it with a liquid preparation made specifically for cats.
Balanced & High-Quality Ingredients
Finally, as with any cat food, make sure that the senior cat food you feed your cat is made with high-quality, balanced ingredients. This means the food should have the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and fatty acids.
Additionally, if you are feeding your cat both wet and dry food, look for a balance of both as different foods provide different health benefits to cats.
By transitioning your senior cat to a food specifically made for them, you are giving them the nutrition they need to stay healthy and happy as they age.
Whilst cats may not necessarily need to transition to senior food until they reach a certain age, understanding when they should switch and what kind of food they should be eating is an important piece of knowledge for all cat owners.
Furthermore, paying close attention to the ingredients in senior cat food will ensure that your cat is receiving all of the balanced nutrition that they need for a long, healthy life.
His professional interests include humane education, ethics, small animal behavior, and veterinary. As a pet lover from school life, having grown up with two cats and a dog. If he isn’t spending time with his friends and family, Justin enjoys traveling. Learn more about Justin here.