FELINE VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS
Does Your Cat Need Them?
by Joelle Steele
Commercial cat foods are formulated to give your cat a balanced diet, so if your cat is healthy, you should have no need for vitamin or mineral supplements. But, every cat is different and has different needs at different times throughout his or her life. As a result, your cat may at some point require supplemental vitamins and/or minerals to insure good health.
A cat who is temporarily under stress due to changes or upsets in daily routine or due to illness or a recent recovery from an illness, may require additional B-complex vitamins which work together to benefit the nervous system and the mental attitude. A lactating queen may need B vitamins and some additional calcium. Ageing and elderly felines, particularly those who suffer from reduced kidney function, may ultimately require and benefit from B vitamins which are not stored in the body and are lost in the urine. In addition, they may require calcium and phosphorus which help prevent their bones from softening.
Many vitamin supplements can be mixed in with your cat's food and those supplements available in tablet form are often made very palatable to encourage your cat to willingly eat them. If you want a more natural approach to supplements, you can give your cat nutritional yeast or brewer's yeast as a source of B vitamins. Bone meal or dicalcium phosphate are excellent sources of calcium, the most common mineral deficiency in cats. Kelp or alfalfa powders are rich in minerals. Cod liver oil (which like most oils should be kept refrigerated to prevent it from going rancid) is an excellent source of A and D vitamins which are good for the eyes, the respiratory system, hair, skin, bones, teeth, and gums, and may be used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism, an increasingly common disorder in felines. Wheat germ oil (best used in capsule form) provides Vitamin E, which is good for the immune system and is also an antioxidant. And, last but not least, cold-pressed olive oil is a source of unsaturated fatty acids.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are not that common in cats, but they can and do occur, particularly when some other system of the body is not working at its optimum. But, before you try to diagnose such a deficiency yourself, it is important that you consult with your veterinarian to determine the exact cause of the deficiency so that it can be treated first, and so that the correct dosage of supplements can be calculated. While deficiencies can lead to serious diseases and disorders, too much of a good thing can also lead to similar problems. Giving your cat too much Vitamin A can cause sterility and a loss of hair. Too much calcium and Vitamin D can lead to metabolic bone and kidney disease.
Always consult your veterinarian if you even remotely suspect that your cat may be ill. If you don't, you may end up endangering your cat's health if the supplements you administer treat the symptoms and mask the true source of the problem.
This article last updated: 02/12/2011.
The articles on this Web site are informational only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice or treatment. Cats are not "one size fits all." They are different in terms of breed, age, health, lifestyle, and tolerance for different foods and other substances.