Aging Cats and Hill’s Science Diet – Special Foods for Mature and Senior Cats
Living in a household of seven cats of ages varying from 4 to 9, feeding time can be a bit overwhelming – not because they are all underfoot and singing a loud meow chorus at me to hurry up and put dinner in their bowls, but because cats have very different dietary needs throughout the stages of their life, especially when it comes to cats of mature or senior status.
A cat is considered to be a mature adult at the age of 7 which is about mid-forties for a human (if your cat is an outdoor cat, his age would be more equivalent to someone in their early sixties). It does not necessarily mean your cat is “old,” it just means that it is time to adjust their nutritional needs to this new stage of their life. A cat at this age needs controlled levels of phosphorus and other vital nutrients to help reduce kidney stress and it is also important for their pH levels to be maintained to support a healthy urinary tract.
At age 11 and beyond, a cat is considered to be a senior and a myriad of changes in their behavior and routines might occur such as changes in sleep routine, increased vocalization, decreased interaction with humans and other pets, less desire to eat, less awareness of their surroundings, and urination or defecation outside the litter box. A proper diet rich in antioxidants and omega fatty acids is important for your cat at this stage of their life in order to help improve their cognitive functions.
This is all well and good advice, but what if you have a cat and you do not know his age because you found him as a stray or adopted him with unknown history? How do you know what age appropriate food you should be feeding him? To get a general sense of how old a cat is, these are some key factors to consider:
Teeth – Older cats tend to have more staining than younger cats and missing teeth may mean you have a senior cat on your hands.
Muscle Tone - Younger cats are more likely to have defined muscles from physical exercise and older cats are usually a bit bonier and may have some extra skin hanging because they are more sedentary.
The Coat - A younger cat typically has a soft, fine coat, whereas an older cat tends to have thicker, coarser fur. A senior cat may display grays or patches of white.
The Eyes - Younger cats will have clear and bright eyes without any discharge. A cat with some cloudiness in their eyes is indicative of a senior cat.
Once you have an idea how old your cat is, the good news is that there is a variety of healthy and nutritious foods available for you to give your beloved mature and senior cats without having to guess what they need and one of these options is the mature and senior line of foods developed by the team at Hill’s Science Diet. Available in Mature Adult Active Longevity, Mature Adult Hairball Control, Mature Adult Indoor, Senior 11+ Age Defying, and Senior 11+ Indoor Age Defying formula’s, each is uniquely created with controlled levels of phosphorus and sodium, omega-6 fatty acids, fibers, taurine, prebiotic fibers, real chicken, and other nutrients and multivitamins to help ensure your mature or senior cat live a longer and happier life.
In conjunction with a proper diet, it is also important at this life stage of your cat’s life to take them to the vet at least twice a year and to pay attention to the changes in their behavior, however subtle they may because sometimes these changes require medical intervention. I know from my own personal experience that when my Mr. Jazz passed away this past August 28th at 15 years of age, up until a few months before his passing he still seemed young to me and so sometimes I would forget how old he really was. Having the guidance of my vet was important because often my judgement was clouded and blindsided by my love for him and I was not always capable of making the best decisions for him on my own.
It is also important to interact with your mature and/or senior cat as much as possible too – try to engage in play type activities with them to keep them active and to preserve their muscle tone. Feed them several small meals a day rather than one large one and be aware of their dental health. Try to stimulate mental activity to keep their brains alert and most important, give them plenty of love and attention.
I encourage you to try Hill’s line of foods for your mature or senior cat, but even if you don’t, I hope you have learned just how important it is to understand that cats have varying nutritional needs for their ages and circumstances. Please be aware as well that the Hill’s mature and senior foods are meant for aging cats and are not suitable for kittens, pregnant or nursing cats, young or young adult cats, or cats with other dietary needs. In these cases, you should switch to whatever Science Diet formula is best suited to your cats age and needs.
“While my cats personally have been eating the Hill’s brand for years without compensation, this post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Science Diet for Cats, but Zee & Zoey’s Chronicle Connection only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.”