Cats are obligate carnivores and need meat and moderate amounts of fat throughout their lives. While a cat's dietary requirements may change over the years due to the chronic diseases of advancing age, the basic building blocks of good nutrition remain the same. Like diets for younger cats, the best food for senior cats consists of mostly meat.
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Wet food will keep your senior cat well hydrated, dilute urine and help prevent urinary tract infections and constipation.
Since senior cats don't absorb fat as well as younger cats do, they may need more fat to maintain their energy levels.
Veterinarian Lisa M. Freeman, a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, discourages restricted protein diets for cats "just because they are old." Speaking at a 2003 Waltham Feline Medicine Symposium, she said foods highly restricted in protein "may actually be too low in protein for many older cats and can contribute to muscle loss."
Also at the 2003 Waltham Feline Medicine Symposium, Freeman suggested that "high phosphorus foods may not be ideal for older cats." Pet food manufacturers can tell you how much phosphorus their food contains, and a list showing the percentage of phosphorus in most brands of cat food is online at Janet and Binky's Food Information Page.
Frequent Small Meals
As cats age, their digestive systems become less efficient. Senior cats are more likely to get all the calories they need if they free feed or get several small meals of wet food every day.
Cats tend to become finicky about food as they age. Warming your cat's wet food in the microwave for a few seconds will make it smellier and more appealing. Other tricks include adding a tiny amount of clam juice, the liquid from a can of tuna, or bacon or chicken drippings to the cat's food. Fortiflora also makes food smell enticing to cats. Most veterinarians sell Fortiflora.
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