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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Understanding and learning how to decipher kitten food product codes will help you choose the right kitten food. While selecting the right ingredients is important, making sure those ingredients are fresh is just as vital to your young cat. Learn how to read the product codes of kitten food packages and cans with our handy guide.
What Is a Product Code?
A product code is a series of numbers and letters printed on the outer package of each product a manufacturer produces. This code provides information about when and where the kitten food was made.
As part of the product code, IAMS™ products include a “Best Used By” date, or the date at which the product is no longer considered fresh and should no longer be sold. This date is expressed in “ddmmyy” and “ddmmmyy” formats.
The second line of the product code represents company internal information for use in traceability and inventory control.
Line 1: (ddmmyy) (ddmmmyy)
Example: 040220 04FEB20
Line 2: 60351111## QQQQQQQ
This product should be used before February 4, 2020.
Depending on the production line, pouch products* may have code date information in a single or double line. By recognizing and understanding these codes, customers can make sure they are receiving a fresh product.
What Is Shelf Life?
Shelf life is the duration, measured in months, during which a properly stored kitten food product maintains its freshness. This means if a product has a 16-month shelf life, it is fresh for up to 16 months from the date of manufacture.
The shelf life for IAMS dry kitten foods is 16 months. All canned formulas have a shelf life of 24 months.
How to Properly Store Dry and Wet Kitten Food
Unopened dry kitten food products are best stored off the floor in a cool, dry place. Open bags of kitten food should be stored in a clean, dry container with a tight seal. Dry kitten food products may also be frozen without loss of nutrients.
Opened wet kitten food products are best kept refrigerated in tightly sealed containers for no more than three days after the container has been opened. Wet products should not be frozen in unopened cans. However, wet kitten foods can be frozen if removed from the container, packed in freezer containers and frozen immediately.
*IAMS has no kitten pouch products at this time.
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