Because of Pussa & Soph’s recent protests against the food they had been being fed for the last 7 years, Mr Pet Parent and I seemed to have spent more time that usual combing the cat food aisles of our local big box pet store. I don’t think it had really struck me until that point what a huge variety there is in cat food. There is of course WAY more for dogs, but that’s the same with anything dog/cat related…and a whole different issue. Outside of the infinite combination of protein types pet food manufacturers can put together, the other factor they want us to include in making our purchase decision is the life stage of our cat. Do we need to make this a consideration or is it just another piece of clever marketing to guilt us into buying one product over another?
Conventional Wisdom of Life Stage Cat Feeding
You will often see food labelled as being appropriate for Kittens, Adults and Seniors. Central to these distinctions is that the three age groups have different nutritional requirements and food can be formulated with more or less of certain nutrients as needed. For example:
Kittens: After 8 to 12 weeks when kittens start to wean off mother’s milk, they need energy dense (higher calorie) and calcium rich food to aid cell growth and to accommodate their generally high activity levels;
Adults: From 1 year old to around 8 years is considered to be the Adult phase. With their growth phase over and in all likelihood a less active cat, especially in the latter years of this phase, there is reduced calorie intake requirement for energy production;
Seniors: Cats 10 years and more move into their senior stage and especially if they have developed joint issues will have even further reduced activity levels, and as such less demand for energy dense food.
I have some basic knowledge around human nutrition and the above seems completely logical and equally applicable to other mammals. You will be doing a huge disservice to your cat, or any pet, if you let them get fat. This is why you need to be careful to consider their calorie intake compared to expenditure at all ages. Being overweight is often the root cause of many common ailments such as joint problems, diabetes, skin problems etc, and so having food formulated according to, amongst other considerations, its energy density is really important.
My conclusion is that yes, products which are formulated for specific life stages are worthwhile. I think though it could be a bit of a grey area about when your cat moves from Adult to Senior. I suggest that you use your own judgement on this. Pussa & Soph both turn 9 this year. Neither are overweight, have mobility issues or basically any medical issue of note. Because of this, I don’t have any plans to switch across to Seniors food any time soon. I’m sure that they want to be considered middle aged ladies for as long as we can all stretch that out.
In the meantime, don’t forget feeding basics…
- Feed a combination of wet and dry food
- Never feed cooked bones
- Don’t leave food around for long periods
- Use clean bowls
- Feed in an area where they feel safe
- Always have fresh, clean water available
- Use one of Cat Habitat’s funky, personalised Feed Boards!