Senior cat’s food formulation

12 July 2021 – News

Senior cat’s food formulation

Older cats are at increased risk of several age-related disorders and their nutritional requirements must be considered. In fact, a complete and balanced diet may slow down or prevent the progression of negative metabolic changes associated with aging, improving the cat’s health and longevity.

At the moment there are no established guidelines or requirements available for senior cats and this study clearly depicts this. This investigation aimed to characterize cat foods labelled for senior cats and assess their variability in nutritional content and suitability for the nutritional management of cats with or older than 7 years.

Thirty-one foods marketed for senior cats (labelled as senior, mature, adult 7+, or adult 11+), from thirty pet food companies were included. The majority (61%) were dry extruded kibble, being the remaining 39% canned food. Poultry was the main source of protein, and ten foods were grain-free. All foods for senior cats were complete and balanced based on formulation to meet the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance. For comparison purposes, fifty-nine foods marketed for adult cats were included.

Foods for senior cats had significantly higher crude fiber content as compared to foods for adult cats, but no significant differences were found in crude protein, crude fat or minerals concentration. The caloric density of foods and nutrient content for senior cats was highly variable but similar to the food labelled as for adult cats thus, the assumption that foods for senior cats provide a unique nutritional profile was not supported by these findings. In senior cats’ food, it was also found nutritional differences according to food form: canned foods had higher caloric density, fat, and sodium concentrations and lower magnesium concentrations when compared to dry foods. In addition, foods for senior cats labeled for ≥11 years had higher caloric density and lower magnesium concentrations when compared to those labeled for ≥7 years.

As the variability of foods is high and the concentration of phosphorus and protein generally were higher than therapeutic renal foods, veterinarians should make dietary recommendations based on the individual needs of their patients rather than generically advise the use of commercially available foods for senior cats.

Summers, S. C., Stockman, J., Larsen, J. A., Sanchez Rodriguez, A., & Zhang, L. (2020). Evaluation of nutrient content and caloric density in commercially available foods formulated for senior cats. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 34(5), 2029–2035. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.15858