What Should I Feed My Older Cats?

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    Question: We have had three cats die of complications arising from hyperthryoid disease. The first, four years ago (female, 11 years old), the second two years ago (male, 12.5 years old) ant the latest today (1/9/97), male 11 years old. The first two had kidney failure, and this one essentially congestive heart failure from fluid build up (we actually euthanised him because of the heavy breathing.) Most of our friends have several cats as well who seem to live to be fifteen to twenty years. The major difference we can see is that we feed ours “better” food than our friends feed theirs. Our veterinarian stated that the incidence of hyperthyroid disease in felines and humans has increased significantly in the last ten years, but that he has not seen any research which even offers a good hypothesis as to cause. The “better” food we feed is Science Diet, dry. I guess what I’m really trying to find out is if we are hurting our animals by feeding them this diet rather than some other diet. Other than rapidly declining at age 11 – 12, they have been in good health, get regular visits to the vet. and live indoors. We still have two other cats, one ten and one five, and with the ten-year old fast approaching the “age of death” in our family, we’re trying to see if there is anything we can do??????? Iris, Michael and Snowshoes thank you for your help in keeping Gena and Ira alive.


    Sex: Male Neutered

    username: [email protected]

    Pet: Feline

    Breed: DSH

    Age: 11

    Dr. Jeff Feinman

    This is an excellent question to which there unfortunately is not a good answer.
    There are many hypotheses about the increasing incidence of hyperthyroidism. Some vets think that the incidence is not actually increasing, but we are recognizing it more often because of our heightened perception of the disease. Others believe there is a viral, dietary, or genetic answer. Personally I believe that there is a dietary etiology, that is, some type of goitrogen in the diet. This is just my opinion. There are definitely clusters of hyperthyroidism in certain households such as you are experiencing. I would stop the Science Diet, and switch to a fresh food diet or one of the all natural cat foods without artificial preservatives, and high quality ingredients. A frozen raw diet works well for many cats. Some however won’t eat the food raw, but will eat it cooked. Cooked unprocessed (fresh) food in variety and moderation is very important. I do NOT recommend the new diet that ostensibly treats hyperthyroidism in cats.

    In addition I would have your cat tested at least once a year for any geriatric diseases including hyperthyroidism. This way, if a disease is caught early, the secondary complications can be prevented.

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