Vitamin and mineral supplements may seem like an easy way to ensure good health, but they sometimes cause more harm than good.
Should I Feed My Senior Cat Supplements?
While older cats suffering from chronic illness or difficulty eating may benefit from the boost of nutrients that supplements provide, many senior cats do just fine without the powders and pills.
Senior cats are at greater risk of deficiency than younger cats, but they are also at increased risk of overdose. Only your veterinarian can determine whether your kitty needs supplements.
What Supplements Should I Feed My Senior Cat?
- Probiotics – Probiotics are all the rage right now for human and pets. These supplements contain “good” bacteria that help control levels of harmful bacteria inside the large intestines.
- Digestive Enzymes – Aging cats suffering from certain digestive problems, such as chronic diarrhea or bowel disease, may benefit from digestive enzyme cat supplements.
- Essential Fatty Acids – Omega-3 fatty acids may help improve coat appearance, reduce shedding, boost the immune system and improve your cat’s eye, liver, joint and brain health.
- B Vitamins – Healthy cats should get adequate B vitamins from commercially-prepared food, but extra niacin and thiamin may be needed for senior cats fed a home-prepared diet containing a lot of raw egg and fish.
- Calcium – If your senior cat is on a special diet or is fed a home-prepared diet, calcium supplementation may be necessary to ensure healthy bones and teeth, normal blood clotting, and proper nerve and muscle function.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin – These nutrients are often found together in cat arthritis supplements and may improve joint health and mobility in some aging cats at risk for or suffering from osteoarthritis.
- Taurine – Taurine deficiency in senior cats can lead to irreversible blindness, heart failure and death, and cats unable to take in enough of this amino acid from food must receive supplementation.
- Lysine – Older cats with Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1) may experience less frequent and less severe flares of the virus while undergoing supplementation with lysine.
What Supplements for Senior Cats Should I Avoid?
Always begin supplementation cautiously. High intake of certain vitamins and minerals can be harmful or fatal.
- Vitamin A – Excess vitamin A can cause your cat’s spine to become hard, resulting in stiff neck, pain and trouble walking.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C offers many benefits, but is rarely needed in supplement form. In high doses, the vitamin cause cause overly acidic urine, which in turn can cause the formation of crystals and urinary blockages.
- Vitamin D – Excess vitamin D can cause hardening of the internal organs and blood vessels and is potentially fatal.
- Garlic and Onion – These two common food items are known to destroy red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia in cats. Avoid onion and garlic supplements for cats.
- Calcium – This mineral is toxic to senior cats when ingested in large amounts. Excess levels of calcium can cause bone deformities and other problems. Overdose also interferes with absorption of other nutrients, including iron, iodine, zinc and phosphorus.
- Magnesium – Too much of this mineral can lead to a painful urinary condition called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Syndrome.
- Phosphorus – This mineral is important for senior cats, but it can trigger calcium deficiency and seizures when taken in excess, which is possible when giving over-the-counter cat supplements.
Always consult your veterinarian before administering any supplement or medication to your senior cat.
©Onpets, LLC 2017. All rights reserved.