Cat eating food

Older cats prefer warm food, study finds

Cats can be fussy eaters, there’s no doubt about that. But new research may make mealtime easier for owners of older or particularly fussy cats.

Waltham, the science centre for Mars Petcare, found that the temperature of wet cat food makes a big difference to how appealing it is.

In a study, older cats were given food at 6 degrees (around fridge temperature), 21 degrees (room temperature) and 37 degrees (like the body temperature of their prey). The researchers found that when bowls were placed side by side, the cats significantly preferred the warmer products. Their top preference was the food at 37 degrees, and they ate the least amount of food offered at 6 degrees.

Cats eyes

Warming may increase the attractiveness of the food by changing and/or enhancing the smell and flavour and by appealing to cats’ natural predatory instincts.

As cats age, the sensitivity of their senses like taste and smell are thought to decline, Waltham explained. These senses are important drivers of appetite, which is why it can be challenging to encourage older cats to eat the food they need to help maintain their body weight.

As complete cat food contains all the nutrients cats require, ensuring that older cats tuck into and finish their dinner is an important part of supporting their needs as they age.

These findings suggest that warming wet food may help encourage your older cat to eat enough to maintain their health.

Senior cat insurance from Petwise will help you take care of your older cat right through to their golden years, with no upper joining age limit and no co-payment regardless of the age of your pet. Members also benefit from 24/7 access to veterinary assistance though our UK-based Vet Helpline.