How to care for an old cat
Improved vet care, nutrition and increased awareness of cat health and safety have contributed greatly to cats living long and healthy lives. Healthy wellness cat food for seniors has also helped in promoting overall health of senior cats. It is recommended that for a healthy senior cat, you should visit the vet every six months.
A cat is considered a senior cat once it reaches the age of seven years. The regular vet visit is to ensure that diseases are detected and treated early for your senior cat. As your kitty ages, it is important to learn what you should expect while caring for him.
What to look for in wellness cat food for seniors
- High protein level diet
- Healthy fats. Some fats may be difficult to digest for some old cats hence cause digestive problems.
- Improved antioxidants. Antioxidants help improve your old cat’s immune system.
- Enough water intake
- Highly digestible ingredients
6 most common changes in aging cats
- Cat sleeping more hours during the day
- Reduced playtime during the day
- Thinning of the coat. For some cats, it may turn grey
- Change in eye appearance which may include a hazy lens
- Change in the cat’s personality. This may include independence, reduced social interactions, and reduced vocalization
- Hearing loss
- Dental issues leading to bad breaths
- Change in litter box use habits
How to keep a senior cat happy and healthy
1. Regular exercise
Regular exercises are important to ensure that your senior cat maintains healthy body weight. However, it is important to pay attention to your kitty’s energy levels so that you do not overwork him. Exercising also ensures good blood circulation.
2. Brush your cat’s coat regularly
As cats age, they may experience difficulty in digesting foods and the hairs swallowed while grooming themselves. This would result in increased hairballs which could cause major discomfort for your old cat.
Brushing him at least once a day will help maintain healthy skin and also prevent hairballs. Although cats keep themselves clean by licking, it is important to groom them regularly with a cat comb. This helps control shedding and also prevent them from swallowing too much hair that accumulate in the gut to form hairballs.
3. Healthy diet
Old cats experience a slow metabolism rate. Others may start losing weight as they age. Conditions like hyperthyroidism may also make your senior cat lose weight. Therefore, it is important to feed your cat with nutritious cat food that is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of an aging cat.
Look for cat food that is easy to digest to ease digestion for your senior cat. It is also important to feed them with foods that will help in boosting their immunity levels to help fight diseases.
Although some age-related problems respond favorably to increased fiber intake, feeding high-fiber foods is not recommended across the board for all senior cats, in part because fiber may decrease the absorption of some essential nutrients.
4. Minimize stress and keep them cool
Senior cats do not regulate their body temperature as effectively as young cats. Therefore, ensure that you maintain a cool environment especially during hot seasons. During the winter, cuddle them with a warm blanket to keep them warm and comfortable.
A drastic change in their environment (for instance introducing a new pet to the family) may stress them since they cannot adapt to changes as quickly as before. It is recommended to offer extra affection as the cat ages to keep them happy.
How to choose the best cat food for seniors
Choose a cat food with a higher calorie per gram for your senior cat. Most old cats may experience difficulty in feeding, therefore, giving a higher calorie level, the cats feed less but still gets the required calories. Higher calories also help senior cats maintain a healthy body weight
Meat as the first ingredient. The meat in the food should not be meat by-product but high-quality meat.
The best cat food for seniors should have a high-quality protein, easy to digest carbohydrates and correct levels of fats. It should also have vitamins and minerals to help the aging bones and also improve the cat’s immunity.
Your senior cat may also experience digestive problems. Some may have problems keeping food down. Therefore, it is important to get him cat food for older cats that vomit.
How to feed senior cats
Nutritional need for senior cats is greatly affected by any health issues they may have. Most of the common diseases affecting cats as they get old include diabetes, renal failure, heart diseases, cancer, liver problems, digestive issues, and arthritis. Illness and a reduction in their sense of taste and smell can affect their appetites, which will have an impact on their body condition. Therefore, old cats may benefit greatly from special diet modifications.
Offer foods specifically formulated for senior cats. As cats age their sense of taste and smell reduces. Therefore, you should give food with higher meat content as they may improve flavor and taste and be more appealing to the cat encouraging them to eat.
Look for soft cat food for older cats. As cats get older, they may develop teeth problems making it hard for them to chew.
Related: Best Soft Dry Cat Food for Old Cats
Slowly introduce new food to your old cat. While introducing new cat food to your senior cat, do it gradually at the same time you offer regular food. You may also mix with regular food in small portions to familiarize your cat with the new taste. Before introducing a new food, consult your vet.
Dry cat food for seniors
If you are feeding your senior cat food with dry food, ensure that you store it in a clean and dry environment to prevent contamination. You can also purchase airtight containers to store the dry food once you open the packaging to maintain the aroma and prevent it from absorbing moisture. Cats are very particular about their taste. Therefore, it is important to ensure that their foods maintain freshness.
Serve your senior cat in a clean low bowl. Low bowls are perfect for cats since cats do not like their whiskers touching bowl’s sides. Also, give your senior cat enough clean water in places they prefer to encourage them to drink.
As your cat ages, he may lose appetite, feed less hence lose some weight. If you notice a reduced appetite level in your senior cat, look for high calorie cat food for senior cats to feed your cat. High-calorie content ensures that your cat will have enough calories even if he feeds less.
Weigh your cat one regular basis to ensure that they have healthy body weight. In some cases, you may notice weight gain in your senior cat. This may be as a result of reduced activity and playtime. As your cat gets older, they do not play as often as they did when they were younger hence may add weight. If you notice this, feed low-calorie food to your cat to manage weight.
However, some cats may add weight even though they are feeding less. If you notice this, see your vet soon since it may be a sign of an underlying health condition.
How do I ensure that my senior cat stays hydrated?
As some cats get old they may get reduced kidney function and this may make the cats not drink enough water which may lead to dehydration. In this case, giving the old cats wet food and adding more bowls of clean water in multiple places to encourage them to drink more water may be needed.
Cats are very sensitive to dental problems that may result in oral pain. This can make chewing very painful for the cat and in some cases, the cat may swallow food without chewing or avoid eating altogether. However, there is soft dry cat food for old cats with dental problems.
Teeth problems in old cats may be manifested by the reluctance to eat, drooling and unpleasant breaths. Therefore, it is important to look for soft foods that they will chew more easily. Soft dry cat foods for old cats are recommended since they help in removing tartar which may help in improving oral health. If you notice that your cat has dental issues, visit your vet.
Sometimes it is challenging to get your old cat to eat what you offer him and you may need to compromise to ensure he eats. Talk to your vet if your senior cat has appetite changes or drastically gains or loses weight. Every cat in every situation is unique