Cats are living well into their teens, in part due to excellent nutrition. Now with nutritional insights specifically targeting seniors, the goal is to further extend their longevity and keep them healthy into their golden years.
Purina’s Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Adult 7+, backed by a pioneering nine-year study, contains a nutrient blend that has shown to improve and extend the life of cats 7 and older. These findings were based on comparing cats who were exclusively fed a complete diet with the proprietary blend to cats fed the complete and balanced diet alone. PRIME PLUS Adult 7+ contains a proprietary blend of antioxidants, prebiotic fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains key nutrients that support a healthy weight; a strong, healthy immune system; improved microflora for a balanced digestive system; and healthy skin.
It’s available in a chicken and rice kibble and four wet options of Salmon & Tuna Entrée Classic, Ocean Whitefish & Salmon Entrée, Turkey & Giblets Entrée and Chicken & Beef Entrée Classic. This senior cat food copycats the goals of Purina’s breakthrough BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formulas that support brain health in senior dogs.
An Easier Eat
Senior cats often experience teeth and gum sensitivities. And, according to Ellen Cox, brand manager for Tiki Pet, the company’s Tiki Cat Senior Mousse is perfect for older cats with sensitive stomachs or teeth and gum issues as the smooth texture is easy on the mouth and on the digestive system.
“The silky-smooth mousse texture makes the complete and balanced food easy to eat,” Cox said. “The main ingredients are chicken and pumpkin. Also, there are a number of purposefully included ingredients to support common aging concerns such as pumpkin for digestibility; green tea, a super-antioxidant; and of course, high-quality proteins and essential fatty acids for overall health and skin and coat.”
According to Rob Downey, founder and CEO of Annamaet Pet Foods, nutrition becomes even more of an important issue for senior cats, as there are many diseases that lead to loss of lean body mass.
“Unfortunately, one of the knee jerk reactions is to feed lower protein diets to senior cats. However, with many of these conditions, a higher protein diet like Annamaet Grain Free Feline or our new Annamaet Feline Sustain No. 29 would be better for these aging cats that are losing lean mass and getting thin,” he explained.
Feline Sustain No. 29 also includes natural turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory actions and could be beneficial in older cats with chronic inflammatory conditions.
For the Less Active
WellPet’s Wellness Complete product line targets feline senior health with its Wellness Complete Health Senior formula made from deboned chicken and chicken meal.
“It’s formulated for the unique needs of less-active, aging cats,” explained Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer experience and marketing for WellPet. “This diet is fortified with vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system as well as our WellFlex system to support hips and joints. Healthy fiber and L-Carnitine help to support cats with slowing metabolisms.”
According to Robert Wheatley, spokesperson for Champion Pet Foods, the makers of Orijen, this line is biologically appropriate for cats of all life stages.
“Also, senior and geriatric cats are not as active as they once were, and thus require less energy from the pet food they consume. The higher protein level, lower calories and lower carbohydrates of ORIJEN Fit & Trim, in comparison to other diets, makes it optimal for older cats whose metabolism has naturally slowed down with age,” Wheatley said. “It is important to stress here that Champion doesn’t claim this is a low carbohydrate or calorie diet, but rather it’s just lower in comparison to other products in the line.”
The company’s comprehensive website highlights that two-thirds of the poultry and fish ingredients in this food are fresh (refrigerated, without preservatives) or raw (flash-frozen, without preservatives), and the ratio of poultry, fish and eggs to fresh fruit and vegetables is 85 percent to 15 percent.
Anna Suplik, cat specialist at Green Cottage Pets in Gig Harbor, Washington, stressed the importance of talking to owners of senior cats to see what other issues are involved, such as a sensitive digestive system or low immune system in order to recommend the perfect nutritional regimen, which may include supplements, particularly those rich in the Omega-3s.
“It is really a matter of dealing cat by cat,” Suplik said. “Some senior diets are low in protein and fat and are unsuitable for an elderly cat that is already thin. So, often times we recommend a standard holistic food and additional supplements such as the Solid Gold SeaMeal, designed to support common cat health issues such as skin and coat health, digestive and immune health. I believe cats should be getting a salmon or sardine oil at any age.
“While some of our customers are educated about senior nutrition, often we find that it’s necessary to get a cat off a mass-produced diet and eating a more holistic recipe first and then it’s a matter of readdressing their nutritional needs. Baby steps,” she added.
Petcurean’s answer to a suitable diet for an aging sedentary cat is its reduced fat NOW FRESH senior formula. Made with 100 percent fresh turkey, salmon, duck and 100 percent fresh Omega-3 and -6 oils from coconuts and canola, it also features zero grains, gluten, wheat, beef, corn or soy, by-products or artificial preservatives. Thus, according to publicist Allie Marsh, the balanced proteins and fats make the food suitable for weight management in senior cats.
Also to Consider
Cats are very insistent when it comes to treats and it’s very easy to over-treat. Hence the growing popularity for low calorie freeze-dried tasty rewards.
Keeping an eye on feline waistlines, It’s Purely Natural dried beef lung treats from Loving Pets Products are made from USA-farmed beef. Lung is lower in fat than most beef cuts. Another advantage of freeze-dried is that it’s easy to break into smaller pieces, add to kibble to add flavor or treat prudently. Also known for its freeze-dried products, Grandma Lucy’s Single Ingredient freeze-dried treats are available in chicken liver, chicken and ocean fish toadd variety for cats that enjoy different flavors.
And on the tail end of nutrition, senior cats often have issues accessing their litter boxes. While the industry has addressed this issue with low-entry designs, a ramp can also be a problem solver. The Kitty Box Ramp is specifically designed to aid senior, arthritic and disabled cats (as well as those who may be recovering from surgery). It has special tread pads on it and can be adjusted to three different heights so that it works with any litter box. Further, it can be anchored in place so that an aging cat will feel comfortable and secure using it. Made from 100 percent recycled and recyclable materials, there is a utility patent pending.
And, of course, the best way to train a timid cat to use a ramp is with treats.