Whether you’ve had your cat since they were a kitten, or you adopted them when they were a young adult or full-grown adult cat, watching them age into their senior years can be difficult. Owning a senior cat can take some adapting and attentiveness as a cat owner.
This is why it’s important to be aware of the special care needs of your senior cat so you can continue to provide them with the happiest and healthiest life possible. Knowing what diet is best for them is one of the top priorities that you must keep in mind.
What you Need to Keep in Mind When Buying Food for Your Senior Cat
Feeding a cat, especially a senior cat, can be tricky at times. Between them becoming pickier as they grow older. Worrying about picking the food with all of the right benefits can be stressful at times. Stress that you are happy to take on if it means supporting your senior cat’s health and happiness.
When you head into the pet supply store to get food for your senior cat there are a few important points to keep in mind that will help you pick out the best and most beneficial food for them.
Moisture and Consistency
It’s important to pay attention to the moisture level and consistency of the food you choose to feed to your senior cat for multiple reasons. First and foremost, you need to ask yourself “what is the dental status of my senior cat?” Meaning, do they have all or any of their teeth so that they can chew their food? Not providing food that your elder cat can adequately eat can lead to weight loss and nutrition problems.
The moisture level of the food is also important for the same reason for their ability to chew the food. Providing food that has a higher level of moisture such as canned cat food can also be beneficial to their hydration levels. Older cats may not be drinking as much water as they should be so by providing moist cat food they are at least taking in some level of water and moisture.
Different Food Types for Your Senior Cat
There are at least three different consistencies of food that you can buy for your senior cat depending on their specific needs. Cat food consistencies can range from moist canned food, semi-moist food, and dry food. All three of these food types can be a great choice for your senior cat as long as you choose after taking any health issues or other specific needs of your cat into consideration first.
Most canned food is always a great choice for your senior cat. Especially if they are having trouble keeping weight on for one reason or another. Moist canned food is packed with all of the calories and nutrients they may need. It is the most caloric choice, making it great for maintaining a healthy weight if need be.
Semi-moist food is a great mix of moist and dry food, providing your cat with all of the great benefits of both types of foods. Dry food, on the other hand, is one of the best foods you can give to your senior cat if their teeth can handle it. Dry food is good for their teeth in addition to being packed with all of the right nutrients without excessive calorie content.
Food Content: Knowing What is in Your Senior Cat’s Food
Reading the label on the food that you may buy for your senior cat is important. But to do so you need to have some knowledge about what it is you should or shouldn’t be seeing on the label.
What ingredients the food contains, and the number of ingredients is a good place to start. If you’ve been reading the label on your cat’s food since they were a younger cat you may notice that when you buy food for your senior cat the number of ingredients is much less.
This is most often because of the fact that as cats grow older, they can develop food allergies and sensitivities.
Providing food with minimal ingredients makes it easier to avoid these allergies and pinpoint the trigger ingredient should an allergy occur suddenly.
As the number of ingredients in your cat’s food diminishes as they age, you will notice that the number of vitamins and minerals in their food will do the opposite. Just as with humans, senior cats require a higher number of vitamins and minerals in their food to accommodate poor absorption of important nutrients within their aging gut. This is also why it's important to start supplementing your cat's diet.
Caring for very old cats can be a tedious yet rewarding task. To know that you are doing right by your aging cat to provide a happy and healthy life makes it well worth the effort. Once you are aware of the specific nutritional needs of your senior cat, buying the best food for them will be an easy task.
If you're not sure if you have a senior cat, check out this guide to learn how to tell your cat's age.