You’ve probably taken a multivitamin at some point, but does your cat need one, too? Nutritional supplements for pets are extremely popular, and some are even beneficial, but not all kittens need a nutrient boost in pill or powder form.
Should I Feed My Kitten Supplements?
Healthy kittens with no underlying conditions that eat a balanced diet rarely need nutritional supplements. Extra vitamins, minerals or other nutrients may be necessary if your kitty is sick or has a deficiency.
Because kittens grow rapidly and are exposed to frequent stress, such as weaning, separation and regular changes in environment, they may benefit from certain supplements more than older cats do.
What Supplements Should I Feed My Kitten?
Nutritional supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Please consult your veterinarian before choosing a vitamin or other supplement for your kitten.
- Essential Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may help prevent shedding, improve coat appearance and protect the immune system. Fish oil supplementation may also improve health of the eyes, brain, joints and liver.
- Probiotics – Probiotic supplements contain “good” bacteria to control overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the large intestines and are beneficial for kittens under high levels of stress, undergoing treatment with antibiotics or suffering from diarrhea.
- Digestive Enzymes – These supplements are beneficial for kittens suffering from chronic diarrhea, bowel disease and other digestive problems.
- Calcium – Although calcium is dangerous when taken at high levels, it may be necessary for kittens fed a home-prepared diet. Commercial kitten food should contain plenty of this mineral for optimal health.
- B Vitamins – These supplements for kittens are necessary for kittens on home-prepared diets. Without supplementation, a diet that includes raw egg can lead to biotin deficiency, and eating a lot of raw fish can cause thiamine deficiency.
- Lysine – This amino acid helps prevent and treat Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1) infections. Many kittens are exposed to this virus, and most will recover and then remain free of symptoms but chronically infected. Lysine may help prevent symptoms from returning.
- Taurine – Kittens need to obtain adequate levels of taurine from dietary sources or risk developing eye and heart problems. Taurine-deficient kittens may also experience delayed growth and development.
What Supplements for Kittens Should I Avoid?
Unless prescribed by a veterinarian to help manage a specific health condition, general vitamin and mineral supplements are rarely needed. High intake of certain vitamins and minerals can be harmful or even fatal.
- Calcium – Excess calcium can lead to painful bone spurs and deformities and interfere with proper production and absorption of iodine, iron, phosphorus and zinc.
- Magnesium – High levels of this mineral can cause Feline Lower Urinary Tract Syndrome, a painful condition requiring professional care.
- Phosphorus – Too much phosphorus leads to calcium deficiency and can cause seizures and problems with bone growth.
- Vitamin A – This fat-soluble vitamin remains in the body for a long time, making overdose easy. Too much vitamin A leads to hyper-vitaminosis A, which causes your kitten’s spine to harden.
- Vitamin C – When taken in high doses, vitamin C can cause overly acidic urine and lead to crystal formation and blockages.
- Vitamin D – This vitamin is fatal to kittens in high amounts and leads to hardening of the blood vessels and internal organs.
- Garlic and Onion – These are both known to destroy red blood cells, which could quickly lead to dangerous anemia in cats.
Always consult your veterinarian before administering any supplement or medication to your kitten.
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