From Pet Health Learning Center
Cat Vitamins (Feline Vitamins and Supplements)
Signs and Symptoms
Exercise and a well-rounded diet are key aspects of raising a healthy pet, but cats do not always receive all the nutrition that they need, even when fed a proper diet. Just as with humans, even a healthy diet does not necessarily ensure that a cat will receive sufficient amounts of necessary nutritional components, such as vitamins and minerals. Since these nutritional components are required for proper and optimal physiological function, cat vitamins can go long way toward boosting your pet's health and well being, especially when these supplements are used to complement a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. By ensuring that your cat is receiving the best nutrition possible, you are giving your feline friend a better chance at living a long and healthy life.
Most cats will obtain at least some benefit from receiving a nutritional supplement, but there are many situations in which cat vitamins may be especially helpful or even necessary with respect to protecting or restoring your feline's health. Malnutrition is a condition that can occur on its own without the presence of another illness, or it can arise as a result of certain diseases and medical conditions. Either way, malnutrition has a very negative effect upon a cat's well being and can put its health in serious danger. This is because lack of proper nutrition can significantly hamper the function of an animal's immune system, making it very vulnerable to infections, diseases, and other forms of ill health. Since none of us want to see our feline companions suffer from unnecessary medical problems, it's helpful to be familiar with the warning signs of malnutrition so that you can recognize this condition early on, before it causes too much damage to your pet.
Two of the most common symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in cats are lethargy and apathy. So if your cat seems unusually tired and has lost interest in exercise and regular daily activities, this could be a sign that your pet is unhealthy, possibly undernourished. Many cats that are not receiving sufficient nutrition also become anemic, although it may take a veterinarian to identify this condition through the use of blood tests. Other, more outwardly noticeable symptoms of malnutrition include a variety of skin problems and coat changes. Such coat changes can include hair loss and dry fur that has a dull appearance and coarse texture. While symptoms may vary depending on the specific type of vitamin or mineral deficiency that your cat is experiencing, these are some of the more common and general warning signs that you can watch out for.
If you observe any of the above listed symptoms in your pet, be sure to consult a veterinarian. Receiving prompt and proper medical attention is vital to protecting and promoting the health of a malnourished cat. Moreover, many of these symptoms can also be signs of other illnesses and medical conditions. As result, it's always important to have your cat examined by a veterinary doctor when your pet is exhibiting these unusual behaviors and warning signs.
When your cat is displaying one or more of the previously listed symptoms, the first steps a veterinarian will take will be to conduct a physical examination of the feline patient and to go over the cat's medical history. During the physical exam, the veterinary doctor will look for clinical signs and evaluate various outward aspects of your cat's health. With respect to the medical history, the practitioner will take into consideration past medical conditions as well as the cat's lifestyle. At this point, it's important for you, as the pet owner, to provide as much information as possible. This can include information about the behaviors and symptoms that you have observed at home, as well as details about your cat's diet and lifestyle. The veterinarian will use this information as well as the physical examination in order to determine possible causes of your cat's condition, including nutritional deficiencies and other medical problems that can cause similar symptoms.
In order to confirm a diagnosis of a vitamin deficiency and to pinpoint the particular vitamin or vitamins that are lacking in your pet's system, blood tests may be necessary. The levels of different vitamins present in a cat's bloodstream can be measured through the use of such tests, and can then be compared to normal values. In the case of vitamin D, measuring the amount of vitamin D byproducts in the bloodstream will help a veterinarian to determine whether this component is deficient or not. Similarly, vitamin deficiencies can be detected through the presence of low levels of vitamin byproducts in a cat's urine. Thus, blood and urine tests are very common diagnostic tools used to check for feline vitamin deficiencies.
Since a lack of sufficient vitamins can be caused by a variety of medical conditions in addition to dietary shortfalls, it's very important to rule out the presence of such an illness. When an underlying medical condition is triggering a vitamin deficiency, the illness will need to be specifically treated and taken care of. However, cat vitamins may also be appropriate when used in conjunction with other treatments geared toward the underlying illness. When malnutrition stems from a solely nutritional cause, supplements may be all that is required to fix the problem.
The term "vitamins" refers to a collection of fourteen essential nutrients that can be divided into two categories -- water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K make up the fat-soluble category while vitamin C, the B vitamins, and others belong to the water-soluble category. Receiving sufficient amounts of each type of vitamin is vital to maintaining good health, as these nutritional components are necessary for proper physiological function. For example, water-soluble vitamins play a role in forming coenzymes, which then participate in chemical reactions. Furthermore, certain vitamins help to boost the immune system and improve various aspects of health. For instance, vitamin D is known to help prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer, probably due to its role as an antioxidant.
When certain vitamins are deficient in a cat's system, it's understandable that certain functions and aspects of the animal's health will suffer. At the same time, however, it's important to realize that some vitamins can also be harmful when ingested in overly large amounts. This is particularly true for fat-soluble vitamins. When the levels of water-soluble vitamins in the body increase, the levels excreted through the urine also increase. In contrast, fat-soluble vitamins are not well excreted by the kidneys and, thus, tend to accumulate in the body. When vitamins from this category accumulate in large amounts, they can have a dangerous and toxic effect upon the body. Therefore, properly balancing vitamin intake is vital to good health.
Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies can be caused by a number of different factors. One of the most frequent causes is an improper diet. When cats are not properly looked after, they often do not receive enough food, or not enough of the right foods. When this occurs, sufficient vitamins, minerals, and other necessary nutritional components will not be ingested. However, many cats suffer from vitamin deficiencies even when they are well cared for and are owned by people with the best intentions. For example, sometimes homemade, organic, or vegetarian diets do not contain sufficient amounts of certain nutritional components, including certain vitamins and minerals. In addition, while many commercial brands of cat food contain necessary vitamins, they are not always present in the most easily absorbable forms. As a result, cats may not receive enough of the proper forms of vitamins even when they are seemingly eating a balanced diet.
Other causes of vitamin deficiencies include a variety of illnesses and medical disorders. Worm and other parasitic infections, for example, can give rise to such deficiencies. Also, age and breed play a role in your cat's nutritional requirements. Therefore, kittens and elderly cats require different amounts of different nutritional components, and the same can be true for different breeds of felines. If these characteristics are not taken into account when providing your cat's diet, the animal's health can suffer.
If your cat is suffering from a vitamin deficiency, the treatment required will depend upon the type of vitamins that are lacking as well as your cat's individual characteristics and circumstances. If an illness or other medical condition is at the root of your cat's nutritional deficiency, special treatment will be necessary to take care of that illness. Sometimes, vitamin supplements will be appropriate when used in conjunction with such treatments. In situations where the deficiency is purely nutrition-related and not caused by illness, certain dietary changes may be required. However, in many cases, vitamins will also be very beneficial with respect to providing a remedy for the problem.
A number of nutritional supplements, including vitamins, are available specifically for felines. Some of these products are made from natural ingredients and are rich with vitamins and essential nutrients that help to improve your pet's health and well-being. Some substances with such beneficial properties include nettle and oat straw. Alfalfa is also rich with a variety of vitamins and minerals, and contains amino acids and proteins as well. Furthermore, parsley consists of vitamins A, C, B1, B2, and vitamin K while dandelion is highly nutritious and aids with digestion. As a result, by using a combination of such ingredients, many natural dietary supplements provide an array of beneficial nutritional components that can boost your cat's health. However, it's always important to consult with a veterinarian before administering any form of treatment or supplement, in order to ensure that you do not inadvertently harm your pet. By working together with your veterinarian, you can provide your cat with the best possible care and nutrition.