Do senior cats have special nutritional needs?

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Cats’ protein needs do not decline as they age, but you will probably want to switch her to a senior food, because it has more fiber, protein, antioxidants and other nutrients that can fend off the accumulation of oxidative stress that pets get as they age—which then leads to organ failure. An older pet also has a slower metabolism which can create weight gain—which then can cause chromic illness.

Supplements can help a senior pet, depending on the specific challenge: Glucosamine works for joint health and omega-3 fatty acids for skin, hair and inflammation.

Very old cats have a tendency to become emaciated so you might need to ramp up the calories they’re getting. Many older cats are perfectly healthy, but your veterinarian may prescribe specific foods or supplements based on any challenge your senior cat is experiencing. Here’s a list of some of the potential health challenges your aging cat might face:
• Weakened immunity, less able to fend off foreign invaders. Chronic diseases often associated with aging can impair immune function even further.
• Increased chances of dehydration: A result of many diseases common to older cats, dehydration further diminishes blood circulation and immunity.
• Thinner, less elastic skin with reduced blood circulation, more prone to infection.
• Less effective grooming, sometimes resulting in hair matting, skin odor, and inflammation.
• Overgrown, thick, and brittle claws.
• Loss of memory and alterations in personality that can manifest as wandering, excessive meowing, apparent disorientation, and avoidance of social interaction.
• Hearing loss.
• Eye changes: A slight haziness of the lens and a lacy appearance to the iris (the colored part of the eye) are both common age-related changes, but neither seems to decrease a cat’s vision to any appreciable extent. However, several diseases-especially those associated with high blood pressure-can seriously and irreversibly impair a cat’s ability to see.
• Dental disease.
• Loss of appetite: Can be caused by illness, chronic pain, dental disease, diminished smell.
• Kidney disease.
• Degenerative joint disease, or arthritis, is common in older cats. ..
• Hyperthyroidism and hypertension (high blood pressure, usually a result of either kidney failure or hyperthyroidism), diabetes mellitus; inflammatory bowel disease; and cancer are all examples of conditions that, though sometimes seen in younger cats, become more prevalent in cats as they age.

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