Why did my old cat stop eating

Old cats: what to look for in their diet


Older cats sometimes have different nutritional requirements than younger cats. Photo: vetproduction

In the course of a cat's life, the demands on nutrition change: an old cat sometimes has different needs than an adult cat or a kitten. Old cats are more prone to some diseases. One reason for this are age-related changes in the body and metabolism. The main goal of the diet of older cats is therefore to prevent age-related diseases and to keep the animal healthy and agile for as long as possible. But what does this mean in concrete terms for your cat's daily diet?


Avoid obesity in cats

Cats are considered older from the age of seven to eight and old from the age of ten to twelve. The exact need for nutrients and energy old cats have has not yet been well researched. The nutritional needs of older cats are likely not that different from those of younger cats. However, the energy requirement decreases because old cats are usually less active. The muscle mass decreases and the fat mass increases. Therefore, the food for old cats should have a high nutrient density, i.e. contain many vitamins, minerals, etc. per food portion. A lower energy content can avoid obesity in cats and prevent related diseases.

Hormonal changes also affect the diet of old cats. The pancreas produces fewer hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. As a result, diabetes mellitus is more common in older cats. Then a special diet is necessary that contains fewer simple sugars and more complex carbohydrates and fiber as well as high-quality protein. The risk of old cats developing diabetes increases if they are overweight. That is why a healthy normal weight is particularly important for elderly velvet paws.


Old cats tend to be underweight

In addition to being overweight, underweight also plays a role in older cats. Cats over the age of eleven in particular are often affected. Among other things, the sense of smell and touch decrease with age. As a result, an old cat often no longer eats as much as it did when it was younger and therefore loses weight. Increased tartar and tooth loss can also cause older animals to eat less and lose weight. At the same time, changes in the gastrointestinal tract mean that old cats are less able to utilize the nutrients they eat. Deficiency symptoms and underweight can be the result. If your cat tends to be underweight, particularly high-energy food is sometimes useful. Your vet can advise you whether any additional feed additives are necessary. Very old cats in particular need a high energy density, as they are particularly prone to being underweight.

Old cats need about as much water as younger animals. Compared to other animal species, cats feel relatively less thirsty. In older animals, the feeling of thirst decreases even further. The cat can dry out quickly as a result. Therefore, make sure that your velvet paw has access to fresh drinking water at all times. Healthy cats take in around 200 to 250 ml of fluid a day. Wet food also provides old cats with a good supply of water and thus reduces the amount they drink.


Dietary fiber for old cats

Fiber also plays an important role in the diet of old cats. A number of factors mean that older cats are often constipated, such as not drinking enough water and not being physically active. Fiber promotes digestion and thereby prevents constipation. In addition, a high content of fiber in the food for old cats has a positive effect on various diseases that occur more frequently with increasing age, such as diabetes mellitus, obesity and excessively high blood lipid levels (hyperlipidemia).

Old cats do not necessarily need special "senior food". If your older cat is otherwise healthy and continues to enjoy eating her cat food, there is nothing to prevent her from continuing to receive this food. However, if illnesses, overweight or underweight occur, it can make sense to adjust the feed accordingly. Your vet will advise you accordingly.

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Additional information

Author: M. Sc. Nadja Graßmeier, nutritionist
Date of the last update: January 2018
Hand, M.S .: Clinical Dietetics for Small Animals, Volume 1. Schlütersche, Hannover 2003
Yin, S.A., Nolte, I .: Practical Guide for Dogs and Cats. Schlütersche, Hanover 2013


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