Tips on improving your senior cat’s appetite
Cats rely heavily on their ability to taste and smell food and these are both reduced in elderly cats. If your cat has a reduction in appetite it is always advised to get them checked with your vet, however sometimes it can be due to their decreased senses.
There are ways that you can encourage food intake at home, this includes the following:
- Warming foods to 30˚c – A cat’s taste receptors are most receptive when food is at body temperature as this mimics the temperature of live prey.
- Strong smelling foods such as fish can help encourage them to eat as a cats sense of smell may be reduced due to age.
- Offering foods that you know they have enjoyed in the past as familiarity is important to cats.
- Offer a different variety and consistency of foods. Often a cat that has always enjoyed biscuits may develop a preference for wet food due to dental disease causing pain. Adding water to the diet and mashing it up may encourage your cat to eat.
- Shallow bowls that do not restrict your cat’s whisker movements are important. In the wild your cat would use their whiskers to wrap around their prey to help them bite in the appropriate location. Whiskers are also important to help cats locate food and objects that are close to their face.
- It is also important to offer fresh, high protein diets. Cats possess taste receptors that are able to detect the amino acids produced by meat and this can help them to distinguish the nutritional quality and protein content of the food. Offering a variety of foods, including wet and dry as well as a variety of food shapes will give your cat the opportunity to choose their preference.
- Offer food little and often, do not leave uneaten food down for long periods or lots of different food choices at once as this can be overwhelming for them. Place the food in a quiet, easily accessible part of the house.
- Raise food bowls up on stands or boxes as this may provide more comfort for cats suffering with osteoarthritis affecting the neck.
- Providing your cat with attention whilst they are eating can help increase appetite.