Vitamins for Cats

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Vitamins are defined as organic compounds essential for metabolism regulation and normal body growth and function. Regardless what the label displays, cat food often lacks necessary vitamins. Bearing in mind that vitamin deficiencies cause a plethora of health problems, vitamin supplementation is a good way to ensure that your cat meets all of his/her nutritional requirements. Some vitamins can be synthesized within the body, while others must be provided through the food.  

Vitamins can be classified as fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K and they are deposited in the cat’s fat tissues. Excessive amounts of fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamins B and C. They are easily excreted through the urine and do not have deposition tendencies. However, cats are programmed to drink small amounts of water which leads to increased urine concentrations, thus decreased ability of eliminating water-soluble vitamins.  

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Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for good vision, proper growth, immune function, cellular differentiation and fetal development. Cats can not convert beta-carotene from plants into vitamin A, so they need preformed vitamin A from an animal source. Lack of vitamin A causes eye disorders (cataracts, conjunctivitis and retinal degeneration), deterioration of the skin and coat quality, weight loss, muscle weakness, reproductive and developmental disorders. Too much vitamin A leads to skeletal lesions.  

Vitamin D

Vitamin D regulates the body’s mineral status by balancing the levels of calcium and phosphorus. Lack of vitamin D leads to impaired skeletal structure (rickets and osteoporosis), progressive paralysis, ataxia, decreased food intake and weight loss. Excessive amounts of vitamin D cause anorexia, lethargy, vomiting and soft tissues calcification. 

Vitamin E

 Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and his main role is defending the organism from oxidative damage. Lack of vitamin E leads to cell damage, reproductive issues and ,,Brown Bowel Syndrome’’. As this vitamin is essential for normal fat metabolism, deficient cats develop a so called ,,Yellow Fat Disease’’. There are no known vitamin E toxicities in the cat. 

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a precursor for activating blood clotting factors. Lack of vitamin K causes prolonged clotting time and hemorrhage. Vitamin K can be synthesized by the bacteria in the intestines. 

B-complex vitamins

 B vitamins are of paramount importance for maintaining a strong immune system. Cats need vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Vitamin B1 is important for the energy and carbohydrate metabolisms and proper functioning of the nervous system. Vitamins B2 and B3 initiate and enable enzymatic reactions. Decreased amounts of B vitamins lead to general weakness, increased illness vulnerability, impaired wound healing and slow reflex function.   

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant. Besides being an important weapon in the immune system’s arsenal against infective agents, vitamin C protects unsaturated fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins from being oxidized. Additionally, vitamin C aids the synthesis of collagen and maintains healthy skin, promotes the healing of wounds, fractures and scar tissues, supports the thymus gland and strengthens the blood vessels. 
Cats are capable of manufacturing vitamin C in their livers, through the glucose metabolism. 
However, in cases of liver disease, the vitamin C synthesis is disrupted, thus requiring external supplementation. Moreover vitamin C is beneficial in treating certain toxicity syndromes and feline immunodeficiency virus infections. 
Since vitamin C is easily excreted, it is highly advisable to divide the daily dose in half and give it twice a day. 

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Can You Give a Cat Vitamin C?

Cat supplement manufacturers advocate that their products are a crucial addition to a cat’s diet. On the other hand, cat food manufacturers claim that their food contains all the essential nutrients. Probably the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Vitamin supplementation is particularly important if your cat is a picky eater, during periods of illness and if more than 10 percent of your cat’s diet is something other than commercial cat’s food. However, vitamin supplements are meant to correct or prevent potential disorders and should not be used without vet’s permission.  

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