As your cat grows older, he experiences changes in his dental health and metabolism. If you don't feed your cat properly to accommodate for these changes, his risk of diseases, from tooth damage to diabetes, increases. To ensure your older cat remains in good health, follow these tips for feeding senior cats. (Any cat age 11 or older is considered a senior cat.)
Feed wet or moist food.
When your cat was younger, he may have gotten along just fine on a dry food–only diet. But chances are, your old cat has some missing teeth or teeth that have begun to decay. Crunching dry food may be painful for him, and doing so may make dental problems worse. Feeding your cat wet food or moist food will ensure he's able to eat without pain. You can still offer your cat some dry food on the side. If he feels up to it, he may eat it – but having another food source ensures he doesn't have to.
Choose a low-starch food.
Older cats are more prone to diabetes. Even if your cat is not a full-blown diabetic, he may have some trouble regulating his blood sugar. This can lead to weight gain or weight loss. Feeding a low-starch food will help guard against diabetes and keep pre-diabetic cats in better health. Most cat foods made specifically or older cats are low-starch. You can also feed a formula made for diabetic cats (even if your cat has not been diagnosed with diabetes).
Offer chicken broth from time to time.
Older cats don't always feel thirst as well as they should. It's not uncommon for them to drink less than they need to. This can lead to urinary tract infections and digestive issues. Encourage your cat to drink more fluids by offering him a small amount of canned, low-sodium chicken broth once a day. You can also make your own chicken broth. Just make sure you don't include any onions or garlic, as these can cause digestive upset in cats.
Feed smaller amounts more often.
Older cats' appetites sometimes decrease. If you notice that your cat is losing weight or that he isn't finishing his meals, try feeding smaller meals more often. For example, instead of feeding 1 can of food morning and night, feed a half can at 8 am, 12 pm, 5 pm, and 9 pm.
For more tips and tricks for feeding older cats, speak with your veterinarian or a clinic such as Canal Road Animal Hospital.