cat article tips feeding your senior cat
Tips for Feeding Your Senior Cat

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Tips for Feeding Your Senior Cat

Aging pets may need special senior cat food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Senior Plus.
 

Mature cats need the same kinds of nutrients as younger adult cats, but as their metabolism slows, the quantities of those nutrients and the ways in which they are provided may need to change. Each cat is different, so ask your veterinarian for dietary recommendations based on your cat's physical condition.

 

 

Here are some special dietary concerns of mature cats:

  • Obesity. Cats tend to gain weight as they age and become less active. Those between the ages of 7 and 9 are at the highest risk of becoming obese, making a lower-calorie diet appropriate in some cases. If your cat is overweight, ask your veterinarian to help you modify the diet you're providing.
  • Weight loss. Some cats may become thinner as they get older. This can be part of the normal aging process, but progressive weight loss can also be caused by serious medical problems. Tell your veterinarian about any significant changes in your cat's weight and then discuss whether diet modifications are necessary. If a physical examination rules out disease, you might consider a calorie-dense "senior" food that has higher amounts of readily digestible fat, which cats find especially tasty. It may help improve your cat's appetite.
  • Dental problems. As your cat ages, periodic dental checkups will help prevent the oral diseases that are common in older cats and can affect their ability to eat. If your cat has irreversible dental problems, a change from dry food to canned or semi-moist food might be necessary.

 

 

Follow these guidelines for feeding an older cat:

  • Choose the right senior cat food. To ensure proper nutrition and to safeguard the health of your cat, select a nutritionally balanced and complete diet specifically formulated for mature cats.
  • Take your senior cat for regular (at least once a year) medical checkups. Your veterinarian can talk with you about any special health problems your pet has and the dietary changes that might be necessary. In many "old age" diseases, special foods can be prescribed along with medication to help manage the conditions. Give your cat supplements only if your veterinarian specifically recommends them.
  • Watch your cat's weight. If you notice that your older pet is gaining or losing weight, tell your veterinarian. The doctor can check for medical problems that might be contributing to the weight change and recommend modifications in diet to correct the problem.
  • Watch the treats. Older cats—and their digestive systems—are even more sensitive than the youngsters to the unbalancing effects of frequent snacks, treats, and table scraps.
  • Keep fresh water in a clean bowl available at all times. If your pet is not drinking, consider buying a pet water fountain, as running water is sometimes more appealing to cats.
  • Make food more appetizing. As cats age, their senses of smell and taste become less acute, so pet food manufacturers have developed senior cat food with intensified aromas and flavors. You can try to make your older cat's food more appealing by warming it to increase its smell (just be sure to stir it to eliminate any hot spots), or by adding bouillon or gravy. If your cat has dental problems, you can change the food's texture by blending or mashing it with water.

  • orange cat in hands of pet parent
    orange cat in hands of pet parent

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    Are You Ready to Adopt a Cat? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

    Introducing a new cat into your home and life is a rewarding and fulfilling decision, one that requires some thought before you head to the shelter. So what should you consider before adopting a cat? Follow our tips to prepare for the best.

     

    What to Consider before Adopting a Cat 

    First, let’s explore some of the commitments you’ll need to make to ensure your new cat is content (and that you are, too!).

     

    Cat-proofing Your Home 

    Make sure your home is cat-safe by eliminating or hiding away anything that could harm or poison your newbie. This includes:

    • Household cleaners and chemicals
    • Medications
    • Toxic plants, including aloe vera, azalea, rhododendron, lilies, chrysanthemum, mistletoe, philodendron, poinsettias and tulips
    • Toxic foods, including chocolate, coffee and tea, dairy, raw meat, grapes and raisins, carrots, onions, garlic and alcohol

     

    Cat Supplies You’ll Need 

    You’ll need a cat bed or hideout, toys, scratching mats, a cat tree or climbing tower, food and water bowls, litter and boxes, and, of course, well-balanced, nutritious cat food. IAMS™ provides a wide range of tailored, nutritional cat food to promote the health of your new cat.

     

    Cost of Cat Care 

    Plan to budget for an annual exam (older cats or those with special conditions may need more frequent visits), medication and parasite preventives. It’s smart to save for emergency care, too.

     

    Cat Exercise and Playtime 

    Providing daily play and exercise opportunities can keep your cat physically and psychologically healthy, and help strengthen your bond. Toys, feather wands and cat trees should be part of your regular rotation! And believe it or not, many cats can be trained to walk on a leash.

     

    Cat Socialization 

    Not all cats are solitary or antisocial; however, they can become this way if they aren’t introduced properly to new experiences. Strange sounds, smells and even appliances in your home might make a new cat anxious, as can other family members and pets (more on this later). So be sure to help your new cat get accustomed to unfamiliar people, places and things, and reward and praise them when doing so.

     

    Litter and Litterboxes 

    Make sure you have the necessary box, scoop and other supplies to keep things tidy. If you have a multiple-cat household, provide one box per cat, plus one additional box, to help quell territorial issues.

     

    A Lifetime Commitment 

    Keep in mind that cats often live into their teens and maybe even a second decade if you’re lucky. Know that you’re adopting a true family member for the extent of their lifetime.

     

    orange cat in hands of pet parent

     

    Choosing the Right Cat for You 

    A cat match made in heaven starts by asking some questions about yourself.

     

    What Is Your Lifestyle Like? 

    If you are not home regularly or gone for extended amounts of time, a cat’s independent nature can be a great fit. If your life includes other people or pets, make sure their behaviors, personalities and lifestyles suit having a cat family member — both for their sake and the cat’s. Allergies can be a dealbreaker, so take note of anyone in your home with cat allergies and their or your willingness to take allergy medication, vacuum constantly and groom the cat regularly to alleviate symptoms. 

    Your home should also have the space for play and exercise and shouldn’t harbor anything dangerous to your cat.

     

    What Cat Personality Suits You? 

    Cats offer a variety of distinctive personality types, ranging from puppy-like cuddliness to feigned disinterest. Some cats are constantly on the go, exploring and poking into this and that, while others are certified nap ninjas. Vocally, they can be chatty catties or more taciturn souls. In short, you have a wide spectrum of personality types to choose from — which is what makes cats such fascinating and easy-to-love pets.

     

    Do You Want to Adopt a Kitten or an Adult Cat? 

    Kittens will need a lot of attention, direction and a fair amount of patience. Their size, energy and inquisitive nature means you’ll need to supervise them closely.

    Adult cats often will settle more quickly into a routine once introduced to their new home. An older or senior adult cat may be even more comfortable interacting with children and furniture. And providing a real home for a cat in their golden years is a rewarding and noble gesture you can feel good about.

     

    Fur Better or Fur Worse 

    All cats shed. This will affect anyone with allergies and could also cause health issues for your cat, like hairballs or matting. Long-haired cats need to be brushed more regularly, and not all cats love this, so you may have to train yours to sit through this daily ritual.

     

    orange cat in hands of pet parent

     

    Where to Adopt a Cat 

    There are several reasons adopting a cat from a shelter or rescue organization is preferable to buying. More effort goes into matchmaking when you adopt, because shelters and rescues generally have more information about their cats. Plus, adopting your cat from a shelter or a rescue actually helps two cats: the one you adopt and the homeless cat who takes your cat’s place.

    In contrast, buying can be much more expensive than adopting, and the practice encourages cat mills and increases the number of pets who need homes.

     

    Adopting a Cat from a Shelter 

    At shelters you can often visit with more than one cat and breed. The screening process can be easier (many shelters allow you to take a cat home that day), and adoption fees can be lower than at a rescue. However, the vet services might not cover all that your cat needs.

     

    Adopting a Cat from a Rescue 

    Rescues have some advantages over shelters. They often know more about candidate cats because they may be placed in foster homes and even trained for a home. So you could adopt a cat that is already litterbox trained, socialized with other pets and with kids, trained to keep off furniture, etc.

    Depending on the rescue’s screening process, you might have to make an appointment to see one cat at a time. While the screening might take longer, it’s designed to match you to the right cat. Adoption fees might be a little higher with a rescue, but they often cover more vet care, too.

     

    orange cat in hands of pet parent

     

    The Cat Adoption Process 

    While rescues and shelters have similar adoption processes, they do vary depending on the organization. But you can count on these basic steps:

     

    1. Application

    Make sure to have a valid ID to verify age (most organizations require adopters be adults) and address. You might also need references, so it’s a good idea to email or call ahead of time and ask about the application and overall adoption process.

    Some of the cat adoption questions you might be asked include:

    • Do you own or rent?
    • Have you had a cat before?
    • Do you currently have pets? Are they spayed or neutered? How are they with other animals?
    • Do you have children at home? Are they good with pets?
    • Does everyone residing in your home approve of adopting a cat?
    • Where will your cat be kept during the day and in the evening?
    • What are your care plans for when you have to leave home for an extended period of time, such as for a work trip or vacation?

     

    They might also ask questions about your health, occupation and personal life to help match the right cat to the right parent.

     

    2. Home Inspection 

    A home and family meet-and-greet might be required to see how everyone, including other pets, gets along with your prospective new cat. And the organization will want to ensure your residence will be a comfortable and safe home.

     

    3. Adoption Fees 

    As we mentioned, cat adoption costs can vary, with rescues often being higher than shelters. Fortunately, the adoption fee will take care of basic veterinary services you will need anyway, including vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and microchipping.

    Adopting a new cat isn’t just rewarding — it can be life-changing. Taking stock of the commitments of cat ownership, and taking the time to find your perfect feline match, will help set you both up for years of joy.

    orange cat in hands of pet parent
    orange cat in hands of pet parent
    orange cat in hands of pet parent
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