It’s both a joy and a pleasure to be owned by elderly kitties. While some older cats may require special care due to the many common ailments to which some aged cats are prone, having a kitty that has reached a ripe old age says a lot about both their excellent genetics and/or the prudent care they have received.
To help maintain elderly kitties in the best possible health, choosing the most species appropriate diet to feed cats is a priority. But with the wide variety of cat food on the market today, designed to meet the nutritional needs of this elderly feline population, it can be somewhat confusing to decide which one is the best to feed, and some veterinarians still prescribe low-protein diets.
However, according to an article written by veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker – an expert in feline nutrition,
“For many years, veterinarians recommended reduced protein diets for older cats.”
Dr. Becker explains the reason why veterinarians suggested feeding elderly cats a reduced protein diet since:
“After a lifetime of eating commercial pet food containing poor quality protein that is difficult to digest, a cat’s kidney and liver function is compromised….As crazy as it sounds, reduced-protein senior cat formulas came into being because of the terrible quality of cat foods on the market.”
As stated by Dr. Becker, premature ageing in cats, digestion, organ dysfunction and detoxification is created by diets that are hard to digest and assimilate. Fortunately, however, many veterinarians are learning today that, in fact, elderly cats actually need more protein than younger kitties.
Dr. Delmar Finco, a veterinary nutritionist discovered in 1992 that as pets age, the requirements for protein really increase. In fact, restricting protein in animals with kidney failure didn’t increase their longevity or enhance their health.
Since low protein diets have traditionally been recommended for cats with kidney disease, what I found most interesting in Dr. Becker’s article was that back in 1992, Dr. Finco’s research uncovered that cats who were fed low protein diets developed hypoproteinemia, (a condition where there is an abnormally low level of protein in the blood). They also became catabolic (the body basically wasting away), and lose weight. He discovered that the more protein was restricted these kitties became even sicker. What Dr. Finco actually discovered is that it was the level of phosphorus in foods that worsened kidney disease; basically not the amount of protein.
However, today, many veterinarians recommend that diets containing excellent highly digestible and assimilable quality protein are appropriate for kitties with kidney and liver issues. However, at the same time it is also recommended to restrict phosphorous levels.
Dr. Becker cautions that cats who have progressed into later stages of kidney failure, “as defined by the International Interest Society (IRIS) are recommended to be fed a reduced amount of high quality protein, but offered to them in a kidney- friendly fresh food format.”
What’s most important in feeding senior cats is to feed them the highest quality protein. Feeding a highly digestible protein that contains high moisture content makes it so much easier for their ageing organs to process.
Raw or “gently cooked” fresh food is an excellent diet for elderly cats. Dr. Becker recommends that if it is impossible to feed raw that dehydrated or freeze-dried balanced food reconstituted with plenty of water is good second choice. All foods that are served “dry” can, in the long run cause problems.
Of course, to prevent serious liver problems cats must eat. Some cats often become totally addicted to poor quality cat food. So if you have a junk-food addict senior, Dr. Becker recommends “Adding a whole body supplement, such as,” Feline Whole Body Support.”
What primary diet do you feed your elderly cats? Share what has worked for you in a comment.