Ask Seth: Nutrition For Senior Cat

I have been feeding my senior cat food for the past year, and my new veterinarian suggested that I switch him to a ferret diet. Is this a good idea? Can you please explain the difference between cat food and ferret food? What would you do?

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Ferrets are strict carnivores and should be fed a high protein (at least 34%), high fat (at least 20%) diet which includes high quality dry chicken or lamb. This means that chicken or lamb should be the first ingredient listed on the nutritional ingredients. I know that Totally Ferret and Zuprem for Ferrets are two brands that our local zoos use to feed their ferrets. These are both ideal because the food is naturally preserved with vitamin E. Ferrets have a short digestive tract so they need protein that is easily digested. Cat food can have grains or corn as the primary ingredient and they should not be used regularly, but could be used in a pinch if you run out of the ferret diet. Cat feed contains too much fiber and not enough protein, which can lead to kidney stones, bladder stones, malnutrition, dull coats, and other ferret health problems. Speak with your veterinarian to see what foods they recommend. I have heard some veterinarians have their own recipes for ferret feed that meets all the nutritional requirements for ferrets.

Seth Mayersohn

About Seth Mayersohn

Have a question about your pet’s health or behavior? Readers can submit questions to askseth@petassure.com. Seth Mayersohn has a B.S. in Animal and Veterinary Sciences and a M.S. in Agriculture from West Virginia University. He has 12 years of experience as a veterinary technician and draws upon that experience to help our readers!

4 comments on “Ask Seth: Nutrition For Senior Cat

  1. Are we feeding a cat or a ferret? I don't understand the answer to the question. I thought the question was about a senior cat and what the difference is between the 2 diets…Should we be feeding ferret food to senior cats?

    • I'm confused too. The question seems to be about a senior cat eating ferret food. The answer seems to be about what food a ferret needs and why NOT to feed it cat food. Now that the question has been asked, I would also like to know if I should consider switching my senior cat to ferret food.

  2. Hi! This is Seth. I'm sorry for the confusion, the question was supposed to read as: "I have been feeding senior cat food to my ferret for the past year, and my new veterinarian suggested that I switch him to a ferret diet.

    Senior cats need the balanced diet that is found in senior diet. Ferret food should never be fed to cats because it does not have enough essential amino acids (especially Taurine) cats require.

    As always, you can submit questions for upcoming columns to askseth@petassure.com!

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