Benefits of Age-appopriate Cat Food
By Lorie Huston, DVM
Balanced and complete nutrition is important for any animal. However, the nutritional needs will vary depending on the cat's life stage. For instance, the nutritional needs of a kitten are much different than the needs of an adult cat that leads a sedentary life. Conversely, as our cats age, their nutritional needs may change again.
Here are four reasons to make sure that your pet's food is designed specifically for their life stage.
- Kittens that are growing require pet foods with a higher protein level and a higher calorie count than most cats to meet their growth requirements. If these nutritional demands are not met, your pet’s growth may be stunted and/or your pet may become ill.
- Obesity is the most common nutritional disease seen in cats today. One reason for this is improper life stage feeding. For example, a cat — especially one that leads a sedentary lifestyle — may become overweight or even obese if fed pet food meant for kittens. Of course cats eating a food designed for adult maintenance can also become overweight if overfed, but the higher calorie levels in kitten foods will certainly contribute to the problem.
- Female cats that are pregnant or nursing have higher nutritional demands than those that are not active reproductively. During the pregnancy and while nursing, the mother cat is literally eating for more than one. If her nutritional demands are not met, her kittens may suffer from a lack of milk as a result. In other words, the mother cat may be unable to produce an adequate amount of milk to feed all of her kittens. In addition, nutritional deficits may also lead to disease for the mother as well. For example, a calcium deficiency can lead to a serious disease called eclampsia, which involves tremors, seizures and even death for the mother.
- Senior cats often have special nutritional requirements as well. Cats with mobility issues may benefit from a pet food that contains glucosamine and/or fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. Older cats may also suffer from illnesses such as chronic kidney disease or heart disease. In some cases, feeding the appropriate cat food can actually be an effective method to manage these diseases.