Feeding A Senior Kitty

stephanietx

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My little Hannah-bean is now 14 years old and she's looking it. She weighs about 9 pounds, but has lost muscle mass, so she looks like a little frail old lady kitty. I would like to try to get her some extra nutrients to keep her as healthy as possible. This is her current feeding regiment:

AM & PM
Combination of Instinct rabbit and venison, and homemade chicken.

Noon, mid-evening, bedtime: A small serving of Taste of the Wild dry

She also has feline herpes and severe airborne allergies. She takes a daily antihistamine for that. She also gets a daily dose of Welactin (Omega-3), Evening Primrose Oil (to decrease inflammation), a probiotic, Duralactin, Cosequin (for arthritis), and the Missing Link (for overall health).

She is in good health, hasn't had a drastic change in weight, behavior, or litter box habits.

Any suggestions on supplementing her diet?
 

Furballsmom

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Hi!
hmmm, could you maybe increase the dry a bit? What about more exercise to help gain back some muscle mass?

Can you take her for walks (either harness or enclosed buggy) to stimulate her mind? That could help her to eat more and to move more in the house.
 

lisahe

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Loss of muscle mass in senior cats can be tricky! You say she's in good health, so I'm figuring she's had senior blood panels to be sure there's no thyroid, kidney, or other serious illness, right?

If that's the case and this is a sign of "typical" aging, one of the the best sources I've seen for information on loss of muscle mass is Dr. Mark Peterson, a veterinary endocrinology specialist. He specifically recommends diets high in meat protein for senior cats. His article for vets, here, is fairly technical and this one for non-vet people like me is more readable but far less informative. This vet-written article on PetMD comes to a similar (and much simpler!) conclusion about highly digestible protein (like chicken) for senior cats. I've seen similar advice on other sites, often referring to Dr. Peterson's research.

The food charts on the catinfo.org site might be helpful for choosing more foods that are high in calories and protein but low in carbs. The Instinct foods you're feeding are relatively high in calories, so they're a great start. Of course every cat is different so you may need to try a few things before finding foods that your cat enjoys that will help her gain the right kind of (muscular!) weight.

Good luck!
 
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stephanietx

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Thanks everyone! This gives me someplace to start.
 

daftcat75

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I find Krista needs between 25 and 30 calories per pound of ideal weight these days to maintain or gain. She's 15 with IBD and a couple flare ups with pancreatitis in her past. There is an unknowable amount of slowdown to her digestion these days--a fair number of strikes against it (age and disease.) From what I've read, even in healthy senior cats, their digestion efficiency slows down. If you don't adjust their diet as they get older, you wind up with a skinny old cat. I would focus on highly digestible high protein wet foods--pates more than shreds or gravies. Gravy-lickers don't gain weight. You may have to add an extra meal as Hannah's stomach won't be growing anytime soon. In any case, smaller meals more frequently are better for senior digestion. If she has had bouts with diarrhea, soft stools, or vomiting, you may want to have her B-12 levels checked. Finally, don't overlook play and exercise. Even senior kitties can benefit from getting their hunt on for a few minutes at a time a few times a day. Sometimes I just ask Krista to work for her meals--play with a wand toy or a laser for a minute or two before I plate her next meal. Play/exercise will stimulate her appetite, increase her caloric needs, and insure her weight gain goes to lean body mass rather than belly fat like adding dry portions would.
 
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stephanietx

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daftcat75 daftcat75 , Thank you so very much. The negative thing about play is that she won't. We have 3 other cats and they bully her and push her out of playtime. In many ways, she's not very confident and it's hard to get her to do anything except eat. I will work on playing with her, though. I have already talked to my husband about adding an extra wet food meal. Everything we feed is pate because she won't eat anything shredded or diced. It's hard to find pates, too! I am hesitant to add too much additional dry food just because of how it can cause constipation at times. Not for her, but in general. I would much rather add additional wet food than dry.
 

daftcat75

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daftcat75 daftcat75 , Thank you so very much. The negative thing about play is that she won't. We have 3 other cats and they bully her and push her out of playtime. In many ways, she's not very confident and it's hard to get her to do anything except eat. I will work on playing with her, though. I have already talked to my husband about adding an extra wet food meal. Everything we feed is pate because she won't eat anything shredded or diced. It's hard to find pates, too! I am hesitant to add too much additional dry food just because of how it can cause constipation at times. Not for her, but in general. I would much rather add additional wet food than dry.
You can start small with play. Does she like a laser pointer? This can be something between you and her whenever you have some time together. I often do a short laser session (sometimes just a few seconds) on the bed with Krista. Enough to pancake her body, saucer her eyes, and get her juices flowing. Another thing I did with krista when she was really weak, I would walk her from one end of the apartment to the other just by having her follow me around with a plate of food in my hand. Or if she caught on to that, I'd plate her food as far from where I prepped it as I could so that she would have to walk across the apartment to supervise the prep and cross the apartment again to eat.

Some cats like to hunt birds and others, rodents. Same with play. A laser would stimulate ground play whereas a wand toy would stimulate air play. Some wand toys can also work for ground play too. A shoelace can satisfy both. A shoelace is something you can keep in your pocket as a toy just for you and her whenever she's apart from the pack.

Make sure you reward her play sessions with food or treats and you'll likely find she'll be more receptive to play.
 
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