Print Enhance Your Senior Cat’s Quality of Life

How does the aging process affect your cat? Age-related changes include a gradual decline in organ functionality and a natural slowing of the cat's resting metabolic rate (RMR), resulting in a decrease in lean body tissue (muscle) and an increase in body fat, which also increases the incidence of obesity. While energy needs vary from pet to pet, cats between the ages of 7 and 9 years are at the highest risk for obesity. By carefully monitoring your cat's dietary intake, weight status, and physical activity you can help offset age-associated losses of lean body tissue.

Remember that your aging pet has the same nutrient needs required during her earlier years; however, the quantities and the way in which the nutrients are provided may require modification. As these needs begin to decline, select a diet formulated to be less energy-dense, while still providing optimal levels of essential nutrients.

Visible Signs of Cat Aging

A cat is considered to be geriatric at 10 to 12 years of age. However, there are many visible signs that your cat is entering old age. For example, your cat no longer jumps onto her favorite perch, or sleeps more and moves more slowly when awake. In addition, your cat's skin loses its elasticity and becomes less pliable. The decrease in skin elasticity may result in areas of hair loss. Old age is also associated with a decrease in bone mass. This may be due in part to the inadequate absorption of calcium. The median age for these developments is approximately 12 years in cats. Arthritis commonly occurs in older pets, too, and can be compounded by obesity. Some of this can be managed by proper nutrition, medical therapy, and nutraceuticals.

Old age in general may result in a general reduction in response to stimuli and partial loss of vision, hearing, and taste. To avoid startling your loving pet, it's a good idea to let your cat see your hand in front of her face before picking her up and to call her name before approaching.

Special Dietary Needs for Your Senior Cat

  • Reduce the Likelihood of Hairballs
    Because of a lower fat digestibility, an aging cat's metabolism may result in lower energy levels and an increase in hairballs. To help reduce the discomfort of hairballs, give your senior cat a diet rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat, as well as beet pulp and cellulose fiber for improved digestive abilities. Providing food in more frequent, smaller portions can help cats maintain their energy levels.
  • Weight Control
    Aging pets should be fed a diet with a higher percentage of calories from high-quality animal protein, and with antioxidants and essential amino acids, like taurine. A formula that features a feline fat burner system can help aging cats lose and manage weight successfully.

Behavioral Changes In Your Aging Pet

One of the most noticeable changes in geriatric pets is their resistance to change in their daily routines. Older cats may become more finicky about their eating habits. With a decreased sense of smell and taste, it may be necessary to provide an especially strong-smelling or highly palatable food.

As your cat slows down, short, sustained periods of physical activity will help to enhance circulation, maintain muscle tone, and prevent excess weight gain. The level and intensity should be adjusted to your pet's age and activity level. Encourage a healthy exercise routine by playing games with your cat for 15 to 30 minutes at least twice a day.

How Old Is Your Cat In Human Years?

While the aging process varies from cat to cat, the chart below demonstrates your cat's probable "human age."

How Old Is Your Cat In Human Years?

Cat

Human

1 year

20 years

2 years

24 years

3 years

28 years

4 years

32 years

5 years

36 years

6 years

40 years

7 years

44 years

8 years

48 years

9 years

52 years

10 years

56 years

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