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Proper Nutrition Could Mean More Birthdays For Your Cat:
Senior Diets For Cats Are The Answer After Age 7

(And that's 45 to you and me!)

By Vikki Howard, D.V.M.,
The Iams Company

(NAPSI)-The right cat food is more than just icing on the birthday cake. For aging cats, proper nutrition could be an ingredient that adds years to their lives. As more pet owners take advantage of advances in pet nutrition and veterinary medicine, many cats now surpass their 14-year life expectancy.

Although genetics, nutrition, health status and living conditions all influence a cat's rate of aging, cats generally are considered senior when they reach 7 years of age. At that time, it's a good idea to reconsider your cat's diet.

As cats age, their level of physical activity and their metabolic rate decrease. So, if they continue to consume the same number of calories that they did as a younger cat, they'll probably gain weight. But obesity is simply one concern. Aging cats also experience hearing, vision, taste and cardiovascular changes, as well as changes in their skin and coat, immune systems, digestive systems and urinary systems.

Senior Cats Need Special Diets

A diet specifically created for older cats, such as IamsŪ Senior Formula Cat Food, may help a cat adjust to the body changes that come with age. Providing the most appropriate nutrition will help maintain body weight, and may slow or prevent the development of other problems associated with aging.

Fare that fits the bill for older cats includes food with proper levels of high-quality protein, fat and fiber. Another important consideration is the food's texture and nutrient density. Cats with significant dental problems may avoid food that is difficult to chew, and, as a result, not get enough to eat. And cats with reduced interest in eating may benefit from more nutrient-dense food.

How Ingredients Stack Up

The best food for aging cats is a commercially prepared, premium-quality diet made specifically for geriatric cats. First on the preferred list of ingredients is a high-quality meat protein source such as chicken, fish, lamb or beef. An older cat's body can use meat-based protein more efficiently than plant-based protein, but protein should supply one-third of a cat's daily calories.

Fat and fiber also rank high on the list. Fat that is highly digestible and rich in fatty acids should make up about 14 percent of the diet, based on guaranteed analysis, and supply about a third of the available calories. And a moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, is best.

Seven is Senior

If your cat is right around age 7, even if you aren't noticing changes in her behavior or appearance, it's a good time to talk to your veterinarian for a thorough examination and to help determine the best diet for your feline friend.

For more information on proper pet care and nutrition, call Iams at 1-800-863-4267 or visit www.iams.com.

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