A cat’s age shapes both her energy levels and need for activity, and her nutrition and behaviour. We help you to take a look at the most important factors you need to bear in mind at each life stage. Today, most domestic cats live for between 12 and 15 years. From the kitten stage until old age, their organism and behaviour vary naturally over time. This is called ontogeny.
The kitten stage (the first year of life)
This stage comprises the first year of a cat’s life, and is the most important in terms of her physical and mental development.
A kitten gains 75% of her adult weight during the first 6 months of her life. She grows at the rate of around 100g a week, so you can imagine just how much energy she needs.
- It’s recommended to start feeding a cat solid food from the age of three weeks, combined with her mother’s milk, or with commercial kitten formula milk. She should be weaned at around eight weeks of age.
- At the beginning, solid food should be soft, appetising and formulated specifically for kittens.
- The first year is the age when it’s most important to choose quality food for your cat, food where animal protein is the prime ingredient. Remember that protein is directly related to growth and the maintenance of muscle mass.
- Choose food that’s easily digestible: food that contains sources of protein and carbohydrate that can be digested with ease.
- Choose a diet that promotes optimal growth: with quality vitamins, minerals and proteins.
If you’ve just brought your kitten home, then now is the best time to choose a diet that suits her specific needs. At Última we recommend our Última Junior food (for sterilised cats, or for non-sterilised cats). These recipes are perfectly balanced and provide all the nutrients your kitten needs to help her grow up healthy and strong. With high quality ingredients for easy digestion.
Behaviour and level of activity
The first year is when you cat’s more open to learning than ever. The world is new for her, and she wants to discover it.
- During this first year of her life you need to keep a close eye on your kitten, as her need to explore, combined with her lack of experience, could put her in danger (careful with open windows and balconies!).
- The most important thing you need to know about this stage is that it’s the time when your kitten learns about the social world: from 2 to 9 weeks is what’s called the sensitive socialisation period. During this time all the experiences your kitten has with other cats, people, dogs, will have a particularly powerful influence on her, as will environmental stimuli. So you need to take advantage of this and be sure to give her the most positive experience possible.
- Furthermore, the first year is when you need to lay the foundations for training your kitten.
Adulthood (from 1 to 10 years of age)
This is the longest period in a cat’s life. Adopting healthy habits will help to keep your cat fit and happy.
- Animal protein needs to form the basis of your cat’s diet.
- Taurine is essential for cats throughout their lives. This amino acid is found in animal-based ingredients. Commercial cat foods incorporate it as a basic requirement.
- Cats need arachidonic acid from an external source in their diet. This is found only in animal fats.
- They also need a direct supply of vitamin A, as they aren’t able to convert vegetable carotene.
- An adult cat needs a daily menu with the right balance of calcium and phosphorus, as well as controlled levels of magnesium and potassium.
In order to choose a diet that adapts to your cat’s particular needs, take a look at the Última range of recipes for adult cats. You can choose between foods for sterilised or unsterilised cats.
Remember that after sterilisation adult cats tend to put on weight, and the urinary tract becomes more sensitive. Última Esterilizado Adult is a nutritious recipe containing moderate levels of fat and calories that together with the fibre and L-carnitine, helps to control weight. Thanks to a balanced mineral content which helps to control urine acidity, it also takes care of the urinary tract.
Behaviour and level of activity
A cat's age shapes her behaviour. But, at all stages of life, cats tend to be sensitive to change and get easily stressed.
- Stress is the source of most behavioural problems in cats. But don't imagine your cat will tear out her hair when she gets anxious. Her way of expressing stress will be to urinate and defecate outside her tray, to become more unfriendly, or to hide. Keep an eye out for any of these symptoms.
- A fairly reliable indicator of an adult cat's level of well-being is play. If your cat feels like playing, it's probably because she feels calm and secure.
- Also remember that any adult cat will need to sharpen her claws, so don't forget to buy her a scratcher or two.
- If your cat lives in a flat with no access to outside space, it's particularly important to keep her both physically and mentally active by playing with her for a while each day, and creating an interesting environment for her by putting up different levels of shelving around the house.
Senior cats (10 + years old)
From the age of 10, age starts to influence health and activity levels.
At this life stage it’s extra important to choose a diet specifically designed for senior cats, one that fulfils the following requirements:
- Reduced phosphorus levels to help reduce the occurrence of kidney problems.
- Correct levels of vitamin D and minerals to support strong bones and teeth.
- Essential fatty acids to help the cat keep her coat and skin healthy.
- Quality protein content to help maintain muscle mass.
If you’re looking for a diet adapted to the needs of your senior cat, Última Senior recipes are a great choice for the benefits they provide:
- Helping to maintain muscle mass and vitality: thanks to high quality proteins, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals
Behaviour and levels of activity
Old age is the time when cats begin to show obvious changes in behaviour, caused by physical deterioration. In very old cats in particular, the following changes may be noticeable:
- A reduction in daily activity: she finds movement more difficult, and may lose interest in games and moving around the house.
- Changes in waking and sleeping cycles: especially in very old cats.
- Cats may start to seem more irritable and less keen on being touched: this could be due to arthritic pain.
- They eat less, and may be less motivated by food than they used to be.
- Urinary incontinence: this can be linked to physical causes, but could also be connected with a loss of cognitive faculties or mental confusion in very old cats.
As you know, the best way of taking care of your cat is to give her all the love and affection she needs, while also taking into account specific age-related requirements.