Feeding Your Senior Cat
Some aging cats lose their appetite or become obese. Experts tell WebMD how to feed your senior cat and what nutritional supplements he might need.
Obesity and the Senior Cat continued...
On top of cats’ more sedentary lifestyle, they often eat calorie-dense foods. Dry foods are especially calorie heavy. And with a cat’s small size, even a few extra calories a day can quickly add up.
"The bottom line is, 10 calories more than a cat needs in a day adds up to a pound of body fat in a year. It’s not difficult for an animal to overeat and gain weight,” Michel says.
How do you keep your cat from getting fat? Here are some tips for keeping your aging cat's weight under control.
- Work with your veterinarian to find the senior cat food that has the best nutritional balance for your older cat. Select foods that are formulated according to guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
- Read the label on your cat food package. It should contain a guaranteed analysis listing the percentage of the food that is crude protein, crude fat, moisture, and crude fiber. If this makes no sense to you (as it doesn’t to many pet owners), check the manufacturer’s web site for more nutritional information or call the company directly and ask.
- Don't feed your cat too many calories. About 50 calories per kilogram per day is enough for the typical indoor cat, Michel says. Adjust that up or down depending on your cat’s health and activity level.
- Use portion control. To help your cat maintain or lose weight, you may need to measure out the food and feed half the allowed amount twice daily. Keep adjusting how much you feed your senior cat as her energy level and calorie needs change.
Special Nutrition for Diseases of the Aging Cat
Several diseases can affect cats as they age. Often, senior cats with medical conditions have special nutritional needs.
Diabetes: Diabetes is a big problem in cats, and it’s often triggered by obesity. Diet is a major part of managing the disease. Many vets recommend that cats with diabetes eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, which may help them gain better control over the disease. If you watch your cat’s diet and weight and give him insulin regularly, there’s a good chance the blood sugar levels will stabilize. In some cats, with prompt treatment, the diabetes will go away entirely.