As cats grow and get older, many things change - including their activity levels, energy requirements and their state of health. Adapting the right nutrition for your cat's lifestage can help them live a longer, healthier life. If you're wondering what to feed your cat, here's our nutrition guide for feeding adult cats (age 1 to 6) and senior cats (age 7+):
Once your kitten is 12 months old, they are not considered an adult, so you can slowly transition them to an adult food. In general, kitten food contains more fats, proteins and calories than adult cat food, so it's important to feed your cat a diet specially formulated for adult cats - which contains fewer calories to help maintain a healthy weight during adulthood.
To provide your cat with a complete and balanced diet, we recommend feeding your cat a Superior Nutrition adult cat food. Superior Nutrition cat foods are scientifically formulated to include the right balance of dietary protein, fats and oils, vitaminds, minerals, and carbohydrates that your adult cat needs for optimal health.
Choosing the best food for your adult cat
There are a number of things to consider when deciding what to feed your adult cat to meet their specific nutritional needs. To help you choose the best food for your adult cat, take into account the following factors:
1. Your cat’s age – choose a food made specifically for adult cats
Adult cat diets are calorie controlled, suitable for adult teeth, and are high in protein to support their immune system and general health during their adult years. That said, you should avoid overfeeding by paying close attention to the feeding guide on the packet.
2. Your cat's lifestyle
Not all cats need the same levels of nutrients, so it’s important to consider your cat’s lifestyle and activity level when choosing your cat’s food. A cat that lives indoors in an apartment, for example, may spend more time sleeping, eating and grooming rather than exercising and therefore may require a ‘light’ option with less energy. A cat that spends its days roaming the neighbourhood will probably need a more calorie-dense type of food to support their active lifestyle.
3. Your cat's breed has unique nutritional needs
If you have a pedigree cat (or cross-breed that strongly resembles a purebred), you may want to consider feeding your cat a breed-specific diet. From facial and jaw structure to skin and coat type, these breed-specific diets are specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of purebred cats. To learn more about these diets, visit our article 'The benefits of breed-specific cat food'.
4. Health requirements
Superior Nutrition cat foods are also available in care nutrition ranges that cater to special health needs such as dental care, hairball prevention or weight management.
Before switching your cat's food to a care nutrition diet, a proper vet diagnosis is essential. If you have any health concerns about your pet's health, talk to your local Animates Vetcare clinic for dietary advice.
Wet food for adult cats
For optimal nutrition, feeding your cat a combination of wet and dry food in their diet offers multiple health benefits. For example, since most wet cat foods contain approximately 70% water, a wet meal is a great way to boost your cat's daaily water intake. To learn more about the benefits of feeding your cat both wet and dry food, visit our ‘Mixed Feeding for cats’ article.
Whether you feed your cat wet food, dry food or a combination of both in their daily diet, it’s important to remember there are some differences between wet and dry food to keep in mind:
- Wet food should not be left out for more than an hour – see packing for storage information.
- Opened wet food should be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours to keep it fresh.
- Dry food can be left out for snacking if desired.
Transitioning your cat's diet
Once you’ve selected your cat’s new diet, we recommend a transition period for changing from their current food to a new food. This is best done gradually over 7 days and involves mixing the two kibbles together until your pet is solely on the new diet. If you notice any minor upsets, including diarrhoea or vomiting, you should stop the transition until this has settled. To learn more tips and tricks on how to change your cat’s food, click here.
As our cats age, you may notice they become less active and start spending more time indoors. These years are characterised as those where your pet begins to slow down, they may be sleeping more or becoming less active, or their skin and coat or overall health may have deteriorated. Even though they may be young at heart, cats over the age of seven years old are considered a senior pet.
When your cat becomes a senior, their dietary needs will change, so it’s important that you monitor these changes closely. With special care and attention, you can help your feline friend age gracefully.
Choosing the best food for your senior cat
Unless your vet suggests otherwise, we recommend changing your cat onto Superior Nutrition diet that’s designed specifically for senior cats. Feeding your senior cat an age-appropriate diet, will ensure they are getting the right level of nutritents to thrive during this lifestage.
To choose the best food for your senior cat, take into account these factors:
1. Your cat's age - choose a food made specifically for senior cats.
Superior Nutrition senior cat foods provide high-quality protein and many also contain added vitamin E to strengthen your pet’s natural defences. Senior cat diets also contain fewer calories - to help your cat maintain a healthy body weight as their activity levels drop.
An older pet needs a food rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants, to help with their brain function slowing. Their food also needs to include the right levels of fat and protein, so they do not experience weight fluctuations as their body adjusts to becoming less active.
As cats age, their sense of smell and taste can fade a little, along with their ability to chew. Smaller, softer pieces will help your older cat get the most out of meals, particularly for sensitive mouths that may have also lost a few teeth. Higher meat content can also improve the smell and flavour of their food, to make it more appealing to them.
Note: Always consult with your vet if your senior pet has problems with their appetite or eating. Changes in appetite may be a sign of a health issue that requires vet attention.
2. Your cat's lifestyle
Because indoor cats generally use less energy, they need more protein and fewer calories. On the other hand, if your senior cat spends most of it's days roaming the neighbourhood, your cat will probably require a more calorie-dense outdoors diet to support its active lifestyle.
3. Your cat's breed has unique nutritional needs
If your senior cat is purebred (pedigree), you may want to consider feeding your feline friend a diet made specifically for their breed. These foods are tailored to support the breed's unique attributes that makes your cat's breed special. To learn more about these special diets, visit our article on 'The benefits of breed-specific cat food'.
4. Health requirements
Superior Nutrition cat foods are also available in ranges that cater to special health needs such as dental care, hairball control or weight management.
Before switching your cat's food to a care nutrition diet, a proper vet diagnosis is essential. If you have any concerns about your pet's health, talk to your local Animates Vetcare clinic for dietary advice.
Wet food for senior cats
Supplementing your senior pet’s diet with a wet meal is a great way to add additional hydration to their daily intake, where some pets may struggle to get enough water day-to-day, particularly in summer. The high meat content of wet diets encourages palatability so if your cat is struggling to eat their dry diet, offering some wet food alongside can help to encourage their eating.
For optimal health, feeding your cat a combination of both wet and dry food in their diet offers multiple health benefits. To learn more about mixed feeding, visit our article 'What to feed your cat - wet or dry food?'
Things to remember when feeding your senior cat:
- Stick to a routine: Cats are creatures of habit, so remember it's best to feed them in the same place and at the same time each day.
- Watch the treats and diet changes: Older cats – and their digestive systems – are even more sensitive than youngsters to the unbalancing effects of frequent snacks, treats, and table scraps. For this reason, keep your senior cat’s diet consistent and feed them treats only in moderation.
- Make their food more appetising: With a weaker sense of smell and taste, your senior cat’s appetite may decrease. If this is the case, you can try to make your older cat’s food more appealing by warming it to increase its smell (just be sure to eliminate any hot spots), or by adding bouillon, canned tuna juice or gravy. Always consult with your vet if your senior cat has problems with their appetite or eating.
- Gradually transition your cat's diet: If you've decided to make a change to your cat's diet, it's really important that you do so gradually over a 7-day period. While we can happily eat a variety of foods in one day, our pets have a very different digestive system, which focus on balance to help prevent digestive upsets. To learn more about how to change your cat’s food, click here.
Keeping your senior cat hydrated
Keeping your senior cat hydrated is really important, but you may find as they age they are less inclined to drink water. Here are some ways to encourage your cat to drink more water:
- Always have plenty of fresh clean water available day and night.
- Put their water bowl about a metre away from their food and a long way from a litter tray.
- Ensure the water bowl is in a quiet and calm area.
- Provide an extra water bowl in the bathroom or laundry where it is easy to top up.
- Consider a cat water fountain that provides filtered running water which cats love.
Note: If you are concerned that your cat is drinking too much water (or not enough), it may indicate an underlying health problem. For peace of mind, consult with your vet.
If you need any more information about what to feed your cat, come in and have a chat with our friendly pet experts at your local Animates store. Our knowledgeable staff will help you choose a Superior Nutrition cat food to match your feline friend's age, lifestyle, breed or special health needs.
It’s important to know that Prescription Diets are also available.
These are diets that are prescribed to your pet by a vet. They are scientifically formulated diets with a high degree of focus to treat a specific ailment of your pet’s – from Hill’s J/D (for Joint Defence), to Royal Canin Diabetic food to help prevent insulin spikes. These diets are only available from vet clinics, so if you feel your pet needs to be reviewed by a Veterinarian, make sure you visit your local Animates Vetcare clinic.