October 24, 2017

Feline nutrition is a work in progress as scientists and researchers continue the quest to provide the right formulas to feed senior cats and also address the increasing problem of feline obesity. Consequently, there are some very innovative recipes on the market that deserve shelf placement in the pet specialty marketplace.

Backed by a pioneering nine-year study, the nutrient blend found in the new Purina Pro Plan PRIME PLUS Adult 7+ has shown to improve and extend the life of cats ages 7 and older by a year.

“These findings were based on cats exclusively fed a complete diet with the proprietary blend vs. cats fed a complete and balanced diet alone and showed the proprietary formula extended their lifespan,” explained Kurt R. Venator, DVM, PhD, director of veterinary strategy and programs for Nestlé Purina PetCare North America.

This unique feline formula was introduced to retailers at Global Pet Expo earlier this year and formally introduced to media at an event hosted by Nestlé Purina PetCare at its St. Louis headquarters this past September. The event outlined the company’s innovation in nutrition and had a focus on healthy aging.

“PRIME PLUS Adult 7+ is the feline equivalent of the BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formulas that support brain health in senior dogs. These foods contain MCT oils known to improve cognitive function in both pets and people,” Venator explained. “Cats, (like dogs), begin to experience changes in their bodies around age 7. These changes can affect different aspects of their health such as the immune and digestive systems, body weight and skin condition and their cognitive function.

“The results from the feline aging study were remarkable,” Venator continued. “The blend of nutrients in PRIME PLUS Adult 7+ can positively impact feline health and longevity, extending [a cat’s] life span for up to a year, and that’s something every pet owner can relate to.”

This groundbreaking formula is available in a chicken and rice dry formula and four wet options, including Salmon & Tuna Entrée Classic, Ocean Whitefish & Salmon Entrée, Turkey & Giblets Entrée and Chicken & Beef Entrée Classic.

For older cats with dental issues, the NUTRO Senior Cat Food Soft has been specially formulated for older cats to comfortably chew.

“It has a soft, lap-able texture,” explained the brand’s publicist Lauren Wretman, senior account executive at Weber Shandwick’s Chicago office. “It’s available in a chicken and a cod flavor, and the formula is low in carbohydrates and high in protein, which is the optimum nutrient profile for a senior cat.”

According to Scott Brownell, sales manager of Grandma Lucy’s, the company recently introduced a one-pound bag of its popular Artisan Chicken and Fish Freezedried/Grain-free recipe, which can also help in maintaining senior cats’ health.

“The ingredient panel differs slightly from the three-pound bag option with chicken liver being added as the third protein ingredient listed in addition to chicken and pollock (a fish) as it’s a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and cats love it,” he said. “Being freezedried, these proteins stay within the guidelines of feeding older cats fresh food. Pollock is also a great source for Omega-3 essential fats. All ingredients are free of antibiotics, hormones and GMOs as well.”

29th Time’s the Charm

For Rob Downey, president of Annamaet Pet Foods, the pursuit of the right diet for senior cats resulted in him reformulating his new diet 29 times, hence the name of the about-to-bereleased formula called Annamaet Feline Sustain No. 29.

“For senior cats, nutrition becomes an even more important issue since there are many diseases that lead to loss of lean body mass,” he explained. “Unfortunately, one of the knee jerk reactions is to feed lower protein diets to senior cats. While for many of these diseases, a higher protein diet like Annamaet Grain Free Feline or our new product, Annamaet Feline Sustain No. 29, would be an option for aging cats that are losing lean mass and getting thin. Annamaet Feline Sustain No. 29 also has natural turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory actions and could be beneficial in older cats with chronic inflammatory conditions.”

With regard to weight management issues, the company is in the early stages of formulating Annamaet Feline Lean to complement its Annamaet Canine Lean formula.

“It is much more difficult to get the feline product correct, as a normal healthy dog won’t starve himself because he doesn’t like the taste of the food,” Downey said. “The cat is a different animal!

“There is twice the amount of calories in a gram of fat as a gram of protein or carbohydrate. To cut the calories in the diet, you really need to cut the fat. Fat is a major palatability enhancer in cats. So cutting the fat can make palatability more difficult to achieve,” Downey said.  “There are, however, some very good natural palatants available to help  improve palatability without really increasing the  calorie count.  Cats who starve themselves are prone to some very serious health problems that dogs are not, making palatability of utmost importance in cat foods.”

Weight Management

According to the latest American Pet Products Association 2017-2018 National Pet Owner’s Survey, 14 million cats of all ages in the United States are obese. The survey highlights that overweight cats are owned by all generations of cat owners with baby boomers reporting the lowest percentage (10 percent), compared with Gen Y owners (21 percent) and Gen X owners (20 percent). This is a heavyweight statistic that pet food manufacturers are not taking lightly.

January 2018 will see the release of the Purina Pro Plan Simply Fit weight loss system for cats in pet specialty stores. This patented eating plan is based on an alternative-feeding schedule of two foods—one with a base calorie amount (Metabolic Maintenance) and one with 25 percent fewer calories (Fat Burn) per serving. The concept is designed to promote a continuously active feline metabolism, so that a cat can slowly lose body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass. The diet can be fed until the cat has reached its optimum weight.

Merrick Pet Care addresses both senior cat diets and weight issues with designated products in its Purrfect Bistro product line.

Deboned chicken is the first ingredient and, along with chicken and turkey meals, comprise a 70 percent protein level of meat sourced ingredients in the Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Healthy Senior Recipe. It’s also formulated to be highly digestible, rich in essential fatty acids and fortified with vitamins, minerals, probiotics and antioxidants. The Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe is also a grain-free recipe and formulated for cats one to seven years of age.

With regard to weight management, the NUTRO Weight Management Adult Cat Food Chicken & Whole Brown Rice Recipe cuts unneeded calories without cutting nutritional benefits. The formula is specifically for overweight cats, with real chicken as the first ingredient to promote strong muscles and lean body mass. It contains 28 percent less fat and 14 percent fewer calories to help manage weight compared to the brand’s standard adult formulations. In addition, it has whole grain fiber to help cats feel full longer, which can play a role in helping cats reach their ideal weight

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