Protein Needs of Senior Cats

Our last post was on the protein needs of cats. It’s important to note that senior cats have slightly different nutritional needs, just as kittens do. Kittens need slightly MORE protein than adult cats and contrary to conventional wisdom out there, senior cats protein intake does not necessarily need to be decreased, but it should be closely monitored. Senior cats frequently suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) and overfeeding protein, especially some of the poor quality protein found in dry kibble can make that condition much worse.
CKD is not easy to detect until it is well advanced and must be diagnosed through the use of medical tests. Since CKD is a chronic, slow to develop disease, it is thought that many cats over the age of ten suffer from the disease, so many “senior” cat foods are made with lower levels of protein. In theory, that’s not a bad thing, but as cats age, they are also susceptible to sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass due to aging and reduced protein levels may make that condition worse.
This is why an automatic switch to a lower level of protein may not be beneficial to your cat. If you decide to go with a senior cat food, be sure and read the label and monitor your cats condition and reaction to the food.  The fact is that many healthy senior cats still require high protein diets to thrive.

Clever Cat

It is important to note that unlike many other mammals, including humans, a cats caloric needs do not decrease as they age, so it’s important to maintain proper nutritional requirements, including protein throughout their lives.
In addition, some diseases such as diabetes require nutritional adjustments, so be prepared to work with your veterinarian and carefully examine your cat food ingredients and body condition in order to make proper adjustments for your cat.

Next in our series: Sources of Protein for Cats

Additional Reading:

Older Cats and Protein – A Delicate Balance
Nutritional Needs of Senior Cats
Feeding Your Senior Cat


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  1. Funny their calorie needs don’t change…I guess napping burns the same amount at any age – LOL!
    Emma recently posted…Staying Fit In The WinterMy Profile

  2. I tend not to buy age related food, other than kitten or puppy food. We give senior vitamins to the cats instead and just keep them on a good high quality food. A lot of time the senior foods are lower calories, which is the last thing Conrad needs….we can barely keep weight on him as it is!
    Jan K recently posted…Black & White Sunday – TreesMy Profile

    • It’s rare that a senior really needs that different food. Just adjust the amounts.
      KitKat recently posted…How Old is My Cat?My Profile

  3. the kidneys have to be 75% damaged before you notice a problem. By that time it might be too late so have to do things ahead of time and like you said monitor very closely.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…How To Stay Fit In Cold Temps~Fitdog FridayMy Profile

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