Pet care has grown increasingly more advanced in recent years. This has helped to improve the health and increase the longevity of cats considerably. The right balance of food and nutrition will ensure that your cat gets all of the vitamins she needs to stay in the best of health.
A cat that eats a trusted brand of cat food will rarely experience a nutritional deficiency. These foods are scientifically formulated to provide your cat with everything her body needs. The use of supplements to provide essential vitamins for cats isn’t scientifically proven.
- 1 Warning Signs of Nutritional Deficiency in Cats
- 2 Recommended Vitamins for Cats
- 3 What Essential Fatty Acids Does My Cat Need?
- 4 Are Supplemental Vitamins Safe for Cats?
Warning Signs of Nutritional Deficiency in Cats
You’ll notice that we talk about high-quality pet food only. This is because not all pet food is created equal. It’s not as simple as claiming that the costliest food on the shelf will be the best.
Cheap cat food is more likely to be loaded with sugars and fillers. These will be tasty for your pet in the short-term, but potentially harmful to their long-term health.
Low-quality cat food will leave your cat with a nutritional deficiency. The symptoms may vary, depending on what particular vitamins and nutrients your cat is deficient in. As AnimalWised explains, general warning signs include:
- Dull and untidy fur that lacks gloss
- Irrepressible hunger followed prolonged disinterest in food
- Skin disorders, including dandruff, dermatitis, and seborrhea
- Complications surrounding the litter tray, including constipation and diarrhea
- Drastic fluctuations in weight
- Behavioral changes, including hyperactivity or uncharacteristic aggression
Recommended Vitamins for Cats
There are eleven essential vitamins and minerals needed by all cats. Vitamins for cats include:
- Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D
Taurine for Cats
Taurine is an amino acid. However, it’s the single most crucial component of any cat food. Always ensure that the food you offer your cat is high in protein.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they need meat to survive. The reason for this is that animal fats contain taurine, which cats cannot generate organically.
As VCA Hospitals explains, a cat that lacks taurine will become unwell. Red or white meat, especially animal hearts or livers, will keep your cat’s taurine levels at the optimal level.
Blindness and heart failure are the most common problems that occur due to a taurine deficiency. However, a cat with insufficient taurine may also have growth defects, and any kittens may experience congenital disabilities.
Taurine supplements are available, but should only be used based on the advice of a vet. A cat should never be fed a plant-based diet with taurine supplements as a lifestyle choice.
Vitamin A for Cats
Vitamin A serves two primary purposes for cats. It promotes healthy skin and ensures sharp vision.
Your cat needs vitamin A in her food. Classic signs of a deficiency include unhealthy-looking, unkempt fur, and clumsiness at night. If your cat cannot see in the dark, she will be lacking vitamin A.
It’s easy to provide a cat with excess vitamin A. This leads to toxicity, which damages the liver and bones. Avoid supplementing your cat with additional vitamin A.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) for Cats
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is just as crucial to your cat as taurine. Your cat requires thiamine to process any carbohydrates that she consumes.
If your cat lacks sufficient thiamine, she’ll suffer from several neurological concerns. These could include a lack of coordination, loss of control over the head and neck, and even seizures.
Any quality red or white meat-based cat food will contain thiamine. Limit the amount of fish that your cat consumes. Fish, especially when raw, can block thiamine.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) for Cats
Riboflavin is another B vitamin that aids your cat’s digestion. It breaks foods down as it enters your cat’s body and converts them to energy.
A lack of riboflavin can cause abdominal pain, as well as skin conditions. Any quality cat food will contain all the vitamin B2 that your cat needs. Also, it is impossible for a cat to experience riboflavin toxicity. Your cat would need to consume a very large amount for this to happen, though.
If your pet does consume this vitamin to excess, it’s filtered and eliminated by the kidneys. This means that supplementation is safe if your cat is unable to process riboflavin through her food.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) for Cats
This vitamin ensures that your cat has a healthy digestive tract and effective metabolism. Also, niacin improves a cat’s memory and cognitive skills.
Perhaps even more pivotal than the benefits of niacin are the drawbacks of insufficient amounts. A cat that lacks niacin in her diet will be at risk of dermatitis. A lack of this vitamin also encourages the onset of feline cognitive dysfunction in senior cats.
5mg of niacin per day will be sufficient for most cats. Ensure this is found in your pet’s diet because cats do not generate this vitamin organically.
Vitamin C for Cats
Cats don’t rely on this vitamin to keep coughs and colds at bay. However, it does boost the production of collagen. This prevents your cat’s joints from becoming arthritic.
Your cat’s body produces any vitamin C that’s needed, so supplementation will not be necessary. An excess of vitamin C can cause urinary tract issues, or negatively impact the kidneys.
Foods, such as oranges, smell terrible to cats. This means that your cat is highly unlikely to develop vitamin C poisoning. Cats shouldn’t eat oranges as they’re toxic, especially the skin.
Vitamin D for Cats
Vitamin D is often referred to as ‘the sunshine vitamin.’ This is because many animals absorb vitamin D straight from the sun’s rays. Where cats are concerned, this is less effective.
Feline bodies struggle to absorb appropriate amounts of this vitamin through sunlight. This makes it more critical than ever that your cat gets their vitamin D through her food.
As Mercola explains, Vitamin D is among the most problematic nutrients to balance. Debate rages as to how much is needed, and excessive levels of vitamin D can be highly toxic. Look out for these warning signs:
- Drooling to excess
- Vomiting, especially if bloody. Also, check your cat’s stool for discoloration
- Muscle tremors and general weakness
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of interest in food, but increased thirst
- Sudden weight loss
Vitamin D poisoning can be fatal. A vet will check your cat’s levels of vitamin D through a blood test. It is advisable to request this at least once annually, or whenever you change your cat’s food.
Calcium for Cats
Calcium helps your cat to enjoy healthy teeth and bones, but cats cannot get calcium through dairy. Most felines are lactose intolerant, leaving them unable to process cow’s milk or cheese.
You should always have your cat’s calcium levels checked by a vet. If they are correct, then continue what you’re doing. If they’re low and your cat struggles to process calcium in her food, look into supplementation. Your cat could be at risk of developing rickets otherwise.
Excessive calcium is just as dangerous. This will result in your cat’s bones growing too dense. This can cause skeletal deformation.
Magnesium for Cats
Magnesium is vital to your cat enjoying a functional, healthy metabolism. The symptoms and repercussions of magnesium deficiency can be severe. These include muscles that waste or become overactive, weakness and lethargy, and heart problems.
Magnesium is found in any top cat food. This means that supplementation shouldn’t be needed. If your vet does recommend upping your cat’s magnesium intake, consider Milk of Magnesia. Ordinarily, cats should never have human medication. One teaspoon will suffice.
You must also be careful never to provide your cat with excessive magnesium. This can play havoc with your cat’s brain function and several internal organs. Elevated heart rate and difficulty breathing are common side effects of excessive magnesium.
Iron for Cats
Iron is a crucial mineral for healthy blood in your cat. If your pet has an iron deficiency, anemia is a real risk. This will result in your cat needing to make some drastic lifestyle changes.
The typical cat will need around 36.4mg of iron for every lb. of their daily food allowance. Quality cat food will provide this, and supplementation will not be necessary.
You’ll easily be able to tell if your cat does lack iron. She’ll be fragile physically, have a very weak immune system, and pass deep red stools.
Some cats are unable to process and absorb iron as a genetic defect. In such cases, they’ll need regular injections from a veterinarian. An inability to process iron will be noted during routine tests.
Potassium for Cats
Potassium is vital for felines as it keeps their muscles and nerves functioning as they should. Ensuring that your cat enjoys appropriate amounts of potassium is a balancing act. Typically, quality cat food will contain around 0.6% potassium.
Cats do generate potassium organically, and any that they consume keeps them topped up. This means that, if you feed your cat a sensible and balanced diet, she’ll be fine.
As your cat grows older, she may start to experience problems with her kidneys. This can lead to lowered levels of potassium, which is known as hypokalemia.
A hypokalemic cat will experience severe muscle weakness. This can become so problematic that a feline is eventually unable to lift her head.
It’s also more than possible for your cat to suffer from excessive potassium. This is known as hyperkalemia. This condition can arise as a result of urinary tract infections or blockages, or kidney troubles. The result will be an elevated heart rate and an uncoordinated gait.
Your vet will need to treat the cause of hyperkalemia. Your cat will either bounce back from treatment quickly or require long-term care and lifestyle changes.
What Essential Fatty Acids Does My Cat Need?
It’s not just minerals and vitamins that are pivotal to keeping cats healthy. They need fatty acids, too. Animal Wellness Magazine specifies three fatty acids that are essential to your cat’s diet:
- Arachinodic acid (aka AA)
- Eicosapentanoic acid (aka EPA)
- Docosahexaneoic (aka DHA)
Fatty acids have several health benefits for felines. They aid the digestive tract, reduce inflammation, and boost the quality of fur. Fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, have also been shown to improve feline cognitive function.
Are Supplemental Vitamins Safe for Cats?
High-quality cat food will contain everything that your cat needs. As a result, supplements could be dangerous. It’s possible to poison your cat’s body with excessive vitamins and minerals.
Sometimes, supplemental vitamins are necessary. It’s possible that your pet is living with a medical condition that necessitates the use of supplements.
Not all felines are capable of processing and absorbing the vitamins found in their food. Also, older cats may need supplements from time to time.
What are the Best Cat Vitamins for Hair Loss?
Most cats shed fur every day. However, substantial hair loss that leaves bald patches is not. If your cat is losing her fur quickly, something is wrong.
It’s possible that this hair loss has nothing to do with nutrition. Allergies, stress, and parasitic infections are all common explanations for this ailment. Get your cat checked out, and ensure that they’re not physically or mentally unwell. Your pet may even be tearing her own hair out.
If the issue is related to nutrition, vitamins A, B, and E boost hair growth. All three B vitamins – thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin – should be absorbed in tandem. Omega-3 fatty acids are also an excellent supplement for a cat with fur loss.
These vitamins will not remove the cause of your cat’s hair loss. The medical cause must be treated. Vitamins will help your cat’s fur regain its luster once the medical complaint is addressed.
What are the Best Cat Vitamins for Joint Pain?
As cats reach senior status, they often struggle with arthritis. This means that vitamins for older cats are sometimes advisable. Alongside any prescribed mediation such as painkillers, supplements may keep your geriatric cat more mobile.
Any pet store will have different supplements designed to ease feline joint pain. Arthritis is caused by wear-and-tear on the cartilage of your cat’s limbs.
This leaves the bones painfully rubbing against each other. Supplements can help to rebuild that cartilage and restore an organic cushion between your cat’s bones.
What are the Best Vitamins for a Cats’ Immune System?
You may also wish to consider supplements that boost your cat’s immune system. Be aware that no vitamin or supplement is as effective as vaccinations. Getting your cat her shots will reduce the risk of exposure of feline herpesvirus and calicivirus.
However, some consider vaccinations to be dangerous, especially to older cats. If this applies, consider supplements, According to Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, the benefits of taking supplements hold up.
Cats have a complicated relationship with vitamins. It’s undeniable that felines require several critical vitamins and minerals in order to flourish. They can easily have too many of these vitamins, though.