Your cat's nutritional requirements will change as he ages. Thankfully, many cat foods are formulated specifically for senior cats' health needs so you can choose what's best for your feline friend.
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He might not jump as high as he used to, but your senior cat is still full of love, curiosity, and feather-chasing abilities. Naturally, you want to make sure he gets the nutrition he needs at this life stage so he stays happy and healthy for years to come.
The Cornell Feline Health Center reports that a cat becomes a senior between the ages of 7 and 10. In fact, a 10-year-old cat is similar to a 53-year-old person. Now, we wouldn't dare say that's old-far from it! But health needs certainly change, especially regarding food and exercise.
"Feeding senior cats is an especially interesting topic," says Tarina L. Anthony, DVM, a longtime practitioner of feline-exclusive medicine, and owner and medical director of Aurora Cat Hospital and Hotel in Aurora, Colo.
"It used to be that veterinarians recommended lower-protein foods for senior cats, especially as they're more likely to have kidney dysfunction, and reduced-protein foods possess typically becomeen recommended for kidney disease," she says. "However, recently it's been shown that senior cats may have an increased protein need due to age-related muscle loss. In fact, this protein level needed may rival that of kittens!"
How to Choose the Best Food for Your Senior Cat
Make sure to speak with your veterinarian about any particular health issues your mature cat may have before changing his diet, Anthony says. Body condition, GI health, and other concurrent issues should be addressed by a vet first.
She points out you can narrow down the choices for best senior cat food by checking labels for these specifics:
- Ingredients are listed by weight.
- The main bulk of the food is summed up in the first three or four ingredients.
- In canned food, meat should be the first or second ingredient (to water), and in dry food, it should be one of the top three ingredients.
- Pet food should meet the requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The wording will either say "animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures" or "formulated to fulfill standards."
Because your vet is aware of your individual senior cat's underlying conditions, they might have recommendations in addition to these brands, so it's good to check with them first. Here are some options to consider:
- Best Dry Senior Cat Food: Wellness Complete Health Senior Cat Food - Natural, Grain Free, Chicken
- Best Wet Senior Cat Food: NUTRO Grain Free Natural Wet Cat Food Cuts in Gravy
- Best Canned Senior Cat Food: Fancy Feast Senior Classic Pate Cat Food
- Best Cat Food for Dental Problems: Hill's Science Diet Adult Oral Care Dry Cat Meals
- Most Affordable Senior Cat Food: Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus Chicken and Rice Formula Adult Dry Cat
- Best Senior Cat Treats: Greenies Feline Smartbites Hairball Control