For every year you live, eat an extra bite.
The “diet according to age” is a diet that is supposed to help people lose weight, while also helping them eat healthier.
Imagine being able to eat nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Even if you liked PBJs, you’d get weary of them after a while, making lunch a chore rather than a pleasure.
You are what you eat, and your cat is no exception. Your cat, like you, need and deserves a high-quality food that adapts to his evolving health requirements. After all, food is a source of energy, and diversity is a precious commodity. You and your cat may age gracefully by eating the appropriate meals and taking the correct vitamins.
“Nutritional demands vary depending on life phases and health circumstances for any animal, including cats and humans,” says Dr. Lindsey Bullen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at BluePearl Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary, North Carolina. “A cat’s nutritional requirements are also influenced by how active it is. Your cat will not be happy on the same food for the rest of his life since every cat is different and has varied nutritional demands at various stages of life.”
Life phases have been updated.
Veterinarians have identified five life phases for felines today:
- Kittens may live for up to a year after they are born.
- A young adult is a person who is between the ages of one and six.
- adolescent – ages 7 to 10 adolescent – ages 7 to 10
- Senior – a person who is above the age of ten.
- Geriatric cats at the end of their lives
Depending on the cat’s health and other conditions, each stage has its own set of feeding requirements and obstacles. In 2021, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) revised its Feline Life Stages Recommendations, as well as geriatric cat guidelines.
Dr. Hazel Carney, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist who sat on the AAHA/AAFP task force, says, “Each cat is an individual, but the AAHA/AAFP life stage standards help to consider in a cat’s age, health condition, lifestyle preferences, and much more.” “Since our first rules were published in 2010, we’ve learned so much about cats.”
All felines, regardless of age, require:
- protein in particular, and
- To survive, you’ll need 11 essential amino acids. A cat’s diet should be tailored to his or her age, reproductive status, weight, activity level, illness status, and any prospective health issues.
Let’s look at the dietary requirements of cats at each of their five life stages:
Transitioning kittens between the ages of 3 and 5 weeks to commercially balanced kitten diets is possible. Kittens require more than double the amount of daily calories as a cat that is 10 months old by the time they reach 10 weeks of age, when they become highly active.
During this time, spaying and neutering have been connected to excessive weight gain. To keep growing kittens from gaining weight, ration out mealtime servings.
A elderly cat with renal problems, for example, need a different calcium and phosphorus ratio than a young kitten.
This is also the best age to start helping your cat establish a wide palette so he doesn’t grow picky.
Dr. Carney, who works at the WestVet Emergency and Specialty Center in Garden City, Idaho, believes that a cat’s inclination to eat is determined on what he is introduced to consume during his first six months. “Now is the time to offer shreds, pate, whole meat, freeze-dried veggies, and other foods to your child.” If you run out of your cat’s favorite food, he’ll be more likely to try something new.”
“I’m a major proponent of rotational feeding because if your cat develops a food allergy, has to be hospitalized, or is placed on a prescription diet, he’s more likely to take the new food and not go on a hunger strike,” Dr. Bullen says.
Once your feline has reached the age of a young adult cat, it’s essential to consider his or her health, activity level, and whether or not he or she has been spayed or neutered, as well as having him or her weighed on a regular basis. You may work with your veterinarian to regulate the quantity of food your cat consumes to keep him in good shape.
Obese and overweight cats are more likely to have chronic health problems including diabetes, osteoarthritis, urethral blockages, and skin illnesses.
This is why, according to Dr. Carney, you should not free feed your young adult cats, but rather give them measured-out meals twice a day. This provides you a starting point to discuss with your veterinarian, particularly if you’re not sure why your cat is gaining or losing weight.
Dr. Carney recommends feeding your young adult cats measuredout meals twice a day rather than free feeding them.
Geriatric, elder, and mature
When cats reach the age of seven and enter the mature adult cat stage, it’s time to revisit their nutritional demands and the quantity of food they should consume to prevent being overweight or underweight.
“A cat’s capacity to digest and absorb nutrients varies as he gets older, and it generally lowers,” explains Dr. Carney. “At the age of 13, one-third of cats can’t absorb or digest protein as effectively as they did at the age of 6 or 7.” So we need to offer easier-to-digest nutrients and more of them to senior cats and older cats in order to maintain their weights.”
Senior cats may have digestive problems as well as health problems such as renal disease, diabetes, obesity, hyperthyroidism, and osteoarthritis. They may need a good transition to a new diet, which may be given by veterinarians to address a particular health issue.
At this point, the argument over whether to increase or decrease protein in meals heats up.
Dr. Carney adds, “This is clearly a hot subject among veterinarians.” “We’ve discovered through time that it’s more about the kind of protein available, how digestible it is, and the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in those protein sources.” We’ve also discovered that total protein restriction isn’t helpful, particularly in cats with early stages of renal function.”
“What we now know is that a cat has to consume a particular amount of protein per pound per day in order to maintain his optimal weight and structure,” she continues. In order to maintain their weight, cats must consume more calories as they get older.”
Cats that are pre-diabetic or have diabetes in the early stages benefit from a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. This is based on current research results.
“Cats are not physiologically equipped to handle carbs effectively,” explains Dr. Carney. “Obese cats are cats that consume a lot of carbs.”
It is critical for felines of all ages to consume enough water to be hydrated. In elderly cats, this is when wet food comes in handy.
“Younger cats may do much better on dry food than older cats, who require more water as they age because they naturally dehydrate,” Dr. Carney explains.
The majority of cat food companies have broadened their product lines to offer diets for different life phases, especially seniors. Here are a few examples of diets that cater to the unique requirements of our illustrious seniors:
Royal Canin Aging 12+ Loaf in Sauce; $52.56/24 cans. chewy.com Tiki Cat Silver wet food for senior cats 11+; $9.99/6 cans.tikipets.com Purina Pro Plan Prime Plus 7+; $28.32 3 oz cans/24 pack. chewy.com
The AAHA/AAFP Life Stage Guidelines provide further information. Go to aaha.org to see the whole 22-page AAHA/AAFP Feline Life Stage Guidelines.
The “what age should you start eating healthy” is a question that has been asked for years. There are many different answers to the question, but one of the most common ones is when you reach your teenage years.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you eat as you age?
A: As you age, your teeth become more brittle. Brittle teeth are less likely to break when they come into contact with hot and cold foods.
What should a 50 year old eat?
A: A 50 year old should consume more vegetables and fruits than other age groups, but also be mindful of saturated fats.
How should I eat in my 30s?
A: The best way to eat in your 30s is by eating vegetables, whole grains and fruit every day.
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