Animal Care

Adult & Senior Cats Nutrition

Adult cats should eat enough high-quality, nutritious food to meet their energy needs and to maintain and repair body tissues. The amount you feed your adult cat should be based on his or her size and energy output. Activity levels vary dramatically between pets and will play an important role in determining caloric intake.

  • A cat with a “normal” activity level should receive what we call “maintenance” energy. A cat who mostly lies around the house may require 10% below maintenance, while an active kitty who plays all day may require maintenance plus 20 to 40%.
  • Your cat should always have free access to fresh, clean water. Water bowls should be cleaned every day.
  • All cats require taurine, an amino acid that is important for normal heart function, vision and reproduction. Since taurine is found only in animal-based protein, all cats need meat-based diets to meet their nutritional requirements.
  • As with people, extreme hot or cold weather can increase a kitty’s energy needs. Both keeping warm and keeping cool use up extra energy, so you may wish to consult with your pet’s vet about what to do when the mercury soars and/or dips.
  • A cat recovering from surgery or suffering from a disease may have increased nutritional requirements to repair, heal and fight infection. Talk to your vet about adjusting your cat’s diet during periods of illness and recovery.
  • As a general rule of thumb, we recommend that all cats be fed twice daily using the portion control feeding method. Start by dividing the amount suggested on the label of your pet’s food into two meals, spaced eight to twelve hours apart. You may need to adjust portions as you learn your cat’s ideal daily “maintenance” amount. Pet owners should consult with their veterinarians to determine the best feeding schedule and types of foods for their pets.
  • Some people have schedules that can’t accommodate normal two-meal-a-day feeding regimens. Not to worry—cats may be fed successfully in a number of ways to meet both the owner’s and the animal’s needs and circumstances. The different types of feeding methods are as follows:
  • Portion-control feeding entails measuring your pet’s food and offering it as a meal, thereby controlling the amount of food that can be consumed. This method is used for weight control programs and for animals who might overeat if fed free-choice. Food can be provided in one or more meals daily.
  • The timed feeding method involves making a portion of food available for the pet to eat for a specified period of time. For example, you would place food in your cat’s bowl and allow your pet to nosh for 30 minutes. After that time, whatever food the cat has not eaten is removed.
  • Free-choice feeding is also known as “ad lib” feeding or “free feeding.” Food is available at all times, as much as the pet wants, whenever the pet wants. This method is most appropriate when feeding dry food, which will not spoil if left out. However, some cats will overeat when fed free-choice, which can result in obesity.
  • Milk should not be fed to cats as a treat or a substitute for water. Cats do not possess significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk. Feeding milk and milk-based products to cats can actually cause them to vomit or have diarrhea.
  • Treats should be given in moderation and should represent 5% or less of a cat’s daily food intake. The rest should come from a nutritionally complete cat food.

Senior Cats

Cats begin to show visible age-related changes at about seven to twelve years of age. There are metabolic, immunologic and body composition changes, too. Some of these are unavoidable. Others can be managed with diet. Start your cat on a senior diet at about seven years of age.

The main objectives in feeding an older cat should be to maintain health and optimum body weight, slow or prevent the development of chronic disease, and minimize or improve clinical signs of diseases that may already be present.

As a cat age, health issues may arise, including:

  • Deterioration of skin and coat
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • More frequent intestinal problems
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Dental problems
  • Decreased ability to fight off infection
  • Routine care for geriatric pets should involve a consistent daily routine and periodic veterinary examinations to assess the presence or progress of chronic disease.
  • Stressful situations and abrupt changes in daily routines should be avoided.

If a drastic change must be made to an older pet’s routine, try to minimize stress and realize the change in a gradual manner.

President

The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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