Tips for Feeding Your Senior Cat
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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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- adp_description_block447Your Cat’s Language: What Meows, Chirps and Yowls Mean
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Listen up, Mom or Dad, because your feline definitely has something to say. Cats use more than 100 different vocal sounds to communicate. Here are nine of the most common sounds you’ll hear and what your cat’s unique language means.
While your cat’s purrs are usually a sign that they’re happy, comfortable or content, it’s important to point out that your cat might also purr when they are anxious, agitated or sick — because purring soothes them. The key to figuring out if it’s a “worry purr” is to check if their ears are folded back, if they seem tense or if they just aren’t acting normal. (If that’s the case, call the vet and grab the cat carrier.)
Why do cats meow? It’s simple: It’s their way of communicating with us!
Meows are your cat’s most common “word,” and every one means something different. For example, your cat might meow to greet you when you come home, to ask you to open your bedroom door so they can curl up on your pillow, or to say, “I’d like some more tasty kibble or a second serving of IAMS® PERFECT PORTIONS™ paté, s’il vous plaît.”
Chirps and Trills
Chirps and trills are the loving language of cat mothers. Chirps, or chirrups, are staccato, bird-like sounds mother cats use to say to their kittens, “Follow me.” Trills are higher-pitched chirps your cat uses to say hello or “Pay attention to me.” When your cat directs these sounds at you, chances are they want you to give them some love or follow them somewhere, usually to their food or water bowl. (Shocker, LOL.)
If you have more than one feline fur baby, listen closely. You’ll likely hear your cats talk to each other with these sounds.
When your kitty spies an unsuspecting bird or squirrel frolicking outside the window, they might make a chattering sound at it. This distinctive, repetitive clicking noise is caused by a combination of lip smacking and your cat rapidly vibrating their lower jaw. This odd behavior looks like teeth chattering, and a lot of cats also chirp when they chatter.
This clickety sound is thought to be a mix of predatory excitement and frustration at not being able to get to the elusive feathered or furry prize. Some animal behaviorists even think the sound mimics a fatal bite used to break the bones of their prey. Who knew your li’l feline was so ferocious?!
Regardless of the exact reason cats chatter or chirp at birds and other small animals, most feline parents find it fascinating and amusing to watch.
The unmistakable sound of a cat hissing is like a steak hitting a hot skillet, and it can only mean one thing: Your cat feels threatened and will put up a fight if they have to. Just as important as the hissing sound, however, is the cat body language that comes with it. Your cat will flatten their ears, arch their back, puff their fur, twitch their tail and usually open their mouth to flash their fangs — aka the classic defensive pose.
Snarls and Growls
In addition to a hiss, if your cat makes a deep, guttural growlsound, they’re saying, “Back off.” Similar to a dog’s growl, this noise means your cat is annoyed, scared or angry. Some cats even make short, higher-pitched snarl sounds before launching into a full-blown growl.
While these sounds usually signify an unhappy cat, it’s important to note that some cats growl because they’re in pain from an injury or a health problem. If you suspect this is the case, a trip to the vet is in order.
If your feline snarls or growls at you for any reason, though, it’s best to leave your feisty friend alone.
A yowl, or howl, is a long, drawn-out meow that almost sounds like moaning; it’s your cat’s way of telling you they’re worried or distressed, or that they need you. They might have gotten locked in a closet, can’t find you anywhere or, heaven forbid, have discovered their food bowl is empty. Your cat might also yowl when they don’t feel well or when a new neighborhood cat trespasses on their turf.
Whatever the reason, make sure you immediately help your cat whenever you hear a yowl. Trust us — you’ll both be glad you did.
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