Yes, senior cat food typically contains less protein because older cats are generally less active and have a lower metabolism, so they do not need as much protein to support their daily activities and avoid weight gain.
Older cats’ nutritional needs differ from young and adults (regular dry cat food), and they do not need high protein to maintain their muscle mass. Their food should be formulated with lower levels of fat and calories to meet specific health requirements.
Why Does Senior Cat Food Have Less Protein?
Cats’ nutritional requirements change as they age. Senior cat chow does not need rich protein meals for their health, because they may have weakened kidney function, and are unable to metabolise large doses of protein as efficiently as younger cats. It is one of the reasons why geriatric cat food has less protein than adult and kitten food since it aids in the prevention of obesity and the maintenance of organ function in cats in their golden years.
To help you understand further, here are the advantages and disadvantages of lower protein content in cat food.
You can also read our guide; Why it is Not Ok for a Kitten to Eat Senior Cat Food
Advantages of Feeding Senior Cats Reduced Protein Diet
- Supports healthy kidney and liver functions.
- It helps prevent bloat, and obesity, and maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduces the risk of urinary tract infections and bladder stones.
- A special low carbs diet helps diabetic felines maintain proper glucose levels.
- May help extend lifespan while maintaining good muscle mass.
Disadvantages of Feeding Senior Cats Low Protein Diet
- Some geriatric cats may still have a high protein need due to established health issues or veterinarian recommendations.
- May cause muscle loss or other negative effects if not formulated properly.
- May not be as palatable to some cats, leading to reduced food intake and potential weight loss.
What Makes Senior Cat Food?
The ingredients used in senior cat food can vary depending on the specific brand recipe and formula. In common, senior cat food is easy on the stomach and soft for chewing for cats with no teeth or dental problems. It may contain a mix of protein sources, such as chicken, fish for taurine, or lamb, as well as carbohydrates like rice or corn.
Some senior cat food may be specifically designed for cats with certain health conditions, such as kidney disease or urinary tract problems. These formulas may be made with specially selected ingredients to support renal health and reduce the risk of urinary tract issues. It may also contain added vitamins and minerals to support the overall health of older cats to stay healthy and happy.
How Much Crude Protein is Required for an Elderly Cat?
The amount of protein that senior cats need varies depending on the food type, particularly wet and dry forms:
Canned Cat Food Protein Requirements
Wet cat food typically called canned cat food contains more protein than dry cat food. In general, senior cats should receive around 10-30% protein in their diet, which can be provided through wet cat food or a combination of wet and dry food. It is important to choose a high-quality wet cat food formulated for senior cats with a balance of essential amino acids to support muscle maintenance and overall health.
Dry Cat Food Protein Requirements
There is typically 20–28% protein in dry cat food, which is less than in wet food. You can feed your elderly cat a complete dry cat food as a one-course dish, but be sure to soak it in water to make them easily chew, or combine it with wet or homemade food. To prevent obesity in senior cats, it is crucial to use high-quality soft dry cat food.