Our pets are our families and when they age, their needs change just like us humans, so what to feed an old cat?
First of all a cat is considered to be entering senior years at approximate age 7 – 8 years old. It is at this point that some cat owners will notice their cat getting a bit “chubbier”, maybe spending a little too much time at the food bowl and a lot of time curled up on the couch!
It is around this time that you may need to make a few changes so that your cat can live a very long and happy life as part of your family and the earlier you can get started on this the better!
Here are a few tips for a happy, healthy older cat!
Annual Checkups – These are really important. Most cats don’t like these and are stressed to the max being put in a carrier then the car then the office and then being probed! But it is important to catch any changes in health before they get worse.
Sometimes just a simple tweak to their daily activity can help, such as with grooming or feeding.
What to feed an old cat – If your cat has always enjoyed having his bowl full of food and being able to come and go as he pleases, and now is showing signs of weight gain, then it is time to measure out the food according to the directions on the food package and his weight.
Don’t Use Restrictive Diets - Don’t suddenly put your cat on some kind of restrictive diet, this can stress a cat even more, simply use the weight of your cat (your veterinarian will weigh him) as a guide and check on the package and use a measuring cup to make sure they are getting the right amount.
At our house, someone was always filling up the cat food bowl, and when our cat was younger it didn’t make any difference to his weight as he was very active, but as he aged he continued to eat the same amount and became heavier!
Measure out the Food - Measure out what he will need for the day if it is dry food, and that is it until the next day. If he is used to large amounts always in the bowl, you may need to do this gradually, If you feed them canned meat, then consider feeding them smaller amounts during the day if you can rather than all in one feeding.
Most older cats prefer to nibble throughout the day, and quite often canned food would spoil before it was all eaten. So, try and time some canned feedings during the day.
Fresh Water – Make sure you change the water in the water bowl often especially in the warmer weather. If you can use filtered water this would be better, as many cats are not fans of chlorinated city water. Picky I know, but as they age they tend to get pickier and they need to drink water to stop dehydration.
Our old cat was not feeling well at one point and was very lethargic, and we realized that the city had added more chlorine to the water and he was not drinking it anymore. With there being lots of people in the household we simply thought someone had been filling up the water bowl, when they had not. We switched to filtered water and then he perked back up.
What to Feed and Old Cat?- A Quiet Place to Eat and Drink – Make sure they have a quiet spot with easy access. We sometimes forget that our pets are aging. We always fed our cats on the laundry room counter because of our dogs eating the food every chance they got, but as our cat aged he was spending more and more time staying on the counter and simply eating and curling up to sleep there because it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to jump that far.
As a result he started packing on weight which made it worse. We came up with a step stool setup and measured out his food.
Everyone in the household needs to be on the same page when it comes to feeding an old cat, as the measuring is important and in our household everyone would simply fill up the bowl if it was empty! Of course our cat was not complaining!
Grooming – Older cats do not groom themselves as well, especially if they are chubby! Our cat rolls around on the floor and simply cleans her front feet and a bit of her belly! Taking the time to brush your cat while enjoying time with him or her works wonders. Most cats enjoy this and it gives you a chance to bond and also take note of any changes that might need attention, such as her eyes, skin and ears etc.
Play Time – Get your older cat moving a bit more each day. There are many cute little toy mice on the market, or simply make your own little toy on a string or even a balled up piece of tin foil will get them moving. This will help to keep their weight manageable, especially if they are indoor cats.
Premium Food – This is not the time to cheap out with the cheapest food on the market. The best idea would be to stay with the food you have been feeding them and see if there is a senior blend.
Changing food can cause health issues in cats, as they will simply not eat and become stressed. If you must change their food, do it very gradually over weeks. Slowly mix in a small amount of the new food every other day until you have changed.
If you brand of food does not offer a senior blend, then ask your veterinarian if your cat should have any vitamin additives for support.
So, just what to feed an old cat? – Lots of love and attention, measured amounts of food for their weight and age, a quiet place to eat and lots of fresh filtered water.
If your cat suddenly doesn’t want to eat, then you need to have him or her checked out, as a cats health can deteriorate quickly.
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