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.
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This article is part of a series on how to spot signs of a healthy cat. You can learn more about the key signs here.
Cats don’t lack personality; that’s for sure. They can be shy, outgoing, snuggly, independent, energetic, relaxed and everything in between. Yet some breeds tend to exhibit certain traits more strongly than others. Here are our picks for what we’re calling the Cat Personality Awards.
The friendliest cat breed:
This larger cat has a big heart to match. They’re often very social and happy to chat with you, whether they’re curled up on your lap or following you around the house. They make excellent family pets because more family members means more people to snuggle and play with.
Also outgoing: Ragdoll, Siamese, Burmese
The most laid-back cat breed:
Gentle and calm, this soft and silky-furred feline is friendly without being demanding. Ragdolls are usually totally cool sharing a house with other pets and kids. They don’t stress much about routine changes or even being carried around. Their motto? It’s all good.
Other cool kitties: Scottish fold, Birman, British shorthair
The most playful cat breed:
Making up around 90% of cats in the U.S., with more than 80 colors and patterns, domestic shorthairs are a melting pot of different breeds. They were originally working cats used to hunt mice and other critters on farms. They still love to stalk, hunt and pounce on toys and play games with their owners — so expect to spend lots of energetic playtime together.
Also ready to play: Siamese, Maine coon, Manx
The most independent cat breed:
This popular breed has been around humans since the 1600s, but is satisfied doing its own thing. Gentle, docile and quiet, Persian cats don’t insist on a lot of attention. They’re just as content sitting on your lap or observing what’s going on by themselves from a sunny perch across the room. They can be discerning in who they give their affection to, but you’ll be on their good side once you earn their trust.
Also fine on their own: Russian blue, American shorthair, Norwegian Forest cat
The most trainable cat breed:
The idea of training a cat may seem hilarious, but the curiosity and intelligence of Abyssinians make them highly trainable. Some can even be taught tricks or to walk on a leash and harness. Training and playing games are perfect ways to direct their affectionate energy.
Also eager to learn: Bengal, Siamese, American shorthair
The cleanest cat breed:
Owning this affectionate, hairless breed means you can spend more time cuddling and less time lint-rolling your clothes. They do require regular baths, but that just means more time to hang out together.
Other neat freaks: Siamese, Russian blue
The best cat for first-time owners:
it’s a toss-up!
Thinking of getting your first kitty? It’s hard to pick just one breed, so we’ve got three:
- Maine coons are super friendly and charming, and adapt well in a variety of living situations.
- Siamese are clean, love to talk and are very loyal.
- American shorthairs are smart, playful and independent.
Remember, most cats — especially those found in shelters — are a mix of breeds, which just means they often combine the best of all cat personality traits! Whatever personality you’re looking for in a cat, you’ll know it when you find your fuzzy soulmate.
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