About half of all the adults in the United States take a nutritional supplement of some kind. Multivitamins, as well as individual vitamins and minerals, can be a great way to add necessary nutrients to one’s diet. So the question is whether supplements can also benefit your cat? The answer can be a bit complicated. Before you decide what supplements to give your cat, it’s important to look at the overall picture of your cat’s nutritional needs.
What Your Cat Needs to Eat in Order to Stay Healthy
Cats are “true carnivores,” which means their nutritional needs are met by consuming meat. At least twenty-five percent of their caloric intake must come from meat-based protein. In fact, cats generally need twice as much protein as dogs.
In addition to protein, your cat’s diet should include:
- Fat – Your cat needs arachidonic acid, which is an essential fatty acid found exclusively in animal fat. If cats don’t get enough arachidonic acid, they’ll exhibit a decrease in energy.
- Fiber – Fiber promotes health in the large intestine. Beet fiber is a good example of a type of fiber which provides both nutritional benefits and the general benefits of bulk fiber.
- Taurine – This amino acid is necessary for your cat’s cardiovascular health. People and dogs can make taurine in their bodies, but cats need an external source.
- Vitamin A – Much like taurine, cats can’t synthesize Vitamin A themselves, so they need an external source. The source of Vitamin A in cat food is typically “retinyl palmitate.” Lack of Vitamin A can lead to night blindness, skin problems and more.
- Niacin – This B vitamin is something many animals, including cats, can synthesize from the amino acid tryptophan. However, cats can’t synthesize enough niacin on their own so they need to make up the difference with niacin additives in their diet.
Should You Give Your Cat Supplements?
Your cat’s primary source of nutrition will be his or her food. You want to want to select a high quality brand, ideally one where the first ingredient is a type of meat. If your cat is a healthy adult who regularly eats high quality food formulated specifically for cats, then you probably don’t need to worry too much about a supplement.
Pet supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, so it can be hard to determine the quality of what you’re buying. Additionally, too many vitamins in your cat’s diet can be harmful. High doses of Vitamins A and D, for example, can be toxic.
Some cats, however, can benefit from supplements. Cat supplements are typically given to:
- Cats with an illness or medical condition
- Senior cats
Supplements for Senior Cats
For every year which passes in real time, your cat ages roughly five years biologically. By the time your cat gets to be 12 years old, he or she will have the body of an average 64 year old human. Fortunately, there are a variety of supplements which can help your senior cat remain as healthy as possible. Senior cats – like senior humans – are susceptible to joint issues, including arthritis and general pain. Cosequin and Duralactin are popular supplements which promote joint health in cats. Additionally, as your cat ages, he might have a harder time absorbing nutrients from food. This is a situation where your veterinarian can provide guidance about which supplements will work best.
Supplements for Cats with Medial Needs
Nutritional supplements can be used to manage or treat a number of medical issues for your cat. This is best handled on an individual basis with the help of your veterinarian. This same advice applies to all types of supplements: Consult with your veterinarian to determine your cat’s specific needs. When administered in the proper dosage, supplements are a great way to help your cat live a happy, healthy life.