Bradshaw JW The evolutionary basis for the feeding behavior of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and cats (Felis catus). J Nutr.. 2006; 136:(7 Suppl)1927S-1931S

Cats and Their Stats (CATS) UK Annual Report 2022.

Eyre R, Trehiou M, Marshall E, Carvell-Miller L, Goyon A, McGrane S Aging cats prefer warm food. J Vet Behav.. 2022; 47:86-92

Fahey GC, Barry KA, Swanson KS Age-related changes in nutrient utilization by companion animals. Annu Rev Nutr.. 2008; 28:425-445

Nutritional guidelines for complete and complementary pet food for cats and dogs. 2021;

Freeman LM Cachexia and sarcopenia: emerging syndromes of importance in dogs and cats. J Vet Intern Med.. 2012; 26:(1)3-17

Grandjean D Everything you need to know about the role played by nutrients in the health of dogs and cats. 2006;

Gunn-Moore D, Moffat K, Christie LA, Head E Cognitive dysfunction and the neurobiology of ageing in cats. J Small Anim Pract.. 2007; 48:(10)546-553

Hardie EM, Roe SC, Martin FR Radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease in geriatric cats: 100 cases (1994-1997). J Am Vet Med Assoc.. 2002; 220:(5)628-632

Hoag SW, Hussain AS The impact of formulation on bioavailability: summary of workshop discussion. J Nutr.. 2001; 131:(4)1389S-1391S

Horwitz DF, Soulard Y, Junien-Castagna A Description of the feeding behavior of the cat. In: Pibot P, Biourge V, Elliot D. Encyclopedia of Feline Clinical Nutrition. 2010;

How to tell your cat’s age in human years. 2019;

Laflamme DP Nutrition for aging cats and dogs and the importance of body condition. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract.. 2005; 35:(3)713-42

Laflamme D Effect of diet on loss and preservation of lean body mass in aging dogs and cats. In: Proceedings of the Companion Animal Nutrition Summit. Charleston, South Carolina. 2018;

Landsberg GM, Hunthausen W, Ackerman L The effects of aging on the behavior of senior pets. Handbook of Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat. 3rd edn. 2012a;

Landsberg G, Nichol J, Araujo J Cognitive dysfunction syndrome; a disease of canine and feline brain aging. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Prac.. 2012b; 42:(4)749-768

Lascelles BD, DePuy V, Thomson A Evaluation of a therapeutic diet for feline degenerative joint disease. J Vet Intern Med.. 2010; 24:(3)487-95

Lund EM, Armstrong PJ, Kirk CA, Klausner JS Prevalence and risk factors for obesity in adult cats from private US veterinary practices. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med.. 2005; 3:(2)88-96

Milgram NW, Head E, Zicker SC Long-term treatment with antioxidants and a program of behavioral enrichment reduces age-dependent impairment in discrimination and reversal learning in beagle dogs. Exp Gerontol.. 2004; 39:(5)753-65

O’Neill DG, Church DB, McGreevy PD, Thomson PC, Brodbelt DC Longevity and mortality of cats attending primary care veterinary practices in England. J Feline Med Surg.. 2015; 17:(2)125-133

Pérez-Camargo G Cat nutrition: What is new in the old? Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian. 2004; 26:5-10

Quimby J, Gowland S, Carney HC, DePorter T, Plummer P, Westropp J 2021 American Animal Hospital Association/American Association of Feline Practitioners feline life stage guidelines. J Feline Med Surg.. 2021; 23:(3)211-233

Sparkes AH, Caney S, Chalhoub S ISFM consensus guidelines on the diagnosis and management of feline chronic kidney disease. J Feline Med Surg.. 2016; 18:(3)219-39

Tips for Implementing nutrition as a vital assessment in your practice. 2020;

Senior cats: nutritional adaptations and practical feeding considerations

02 March 2023
10 mins read
Volume 14 · Issue 2
Figure 1. How to tell your cat's age in human years poster (International Cat Care, 2019).


This article outlines the nutritional goals and adaptations required by cats more than 7 years of age, including nutrient modulation. The article discusses nursing interventions to help ensure optimal dietary intake and methods to help educate pet owners on nutrition for their senior cats, including practical tips on respecting feeding behaviours for cats in this life stage. It is vital to assess each cat as an individual, applying the most suitable nutritional adaptations, whether it be for a healthy senior cat, or one for whom a clinical diet may be more appropriate.

The pet cat population continues to grow. The Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (2022) estimated in 2022 that there were 12 million cats in the UK, amounting to 28% of households owning at least one cat. The median longevity for cats is 14 years with cross-breed cats having a greater median longevity (14 years) compared to that of pure-breed cats (12.5 years) (O’Neill et al, 2015). International Cat Care (2019) displays six life stages (Figure 1) for cats, three of which pertain to the senior stages: mature, senior and super-senior. This shows that approximately half of a cat’s life is spent within the senior stages, yet pet owners may lack understanding of nutritional adaptations that are recommended at different ages. Comparing the age of cats with the human equivalent age can help pet owners to better understand their cat’s life stage and recognise changes that they may observe, both visibly and subtly, which may be more familiar to them as part of human ageing.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting The Veterinary Nurse and reading some of our peer-reviewed content for veterinary professionals. To continue reading this article, please register today.