You or someone you know probably takes a daily multivitamin. Does your cat
need one, too?
“The interest in nutritional supplements for people and pets has exploded
into a billion dollar industry over the past several years,” says Bernadine
Cruz, DVM, chair of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council
Cruz cautions that "anyone, regardless of their expertise, can set up a
web site and claim that their product can make your pet feel younger and have
Do cat supplements live up to their claims? And, does your cat need
supplementation? That partly depends on who you ask.
Cat supplement manufacturers and advocates say such products should be seen
as an extension of a cat’s diet, adding that they can help the pets live
longer, healthier lives.
Others, including Cruz and members of the Pet Food Institute, say if your
cat is generally healthy, a good quality cat food is all that’s needed.
Giving your cat more vitamins or minerals could cause more harm than good.
Supplements may be recommended if your cat is sick.
“There are some circumstances where a cat has an underlying condition that
may warrant a supplement, but many supplements are untested and unproven in
veterinary medicine. The key point is that most cats consuming a complete and
balanced diet probably have a better balanced diet than most humans,” says
Sherry Sanderson, DVM, PhD, of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary
Supplements are meant to correct deficiencies.
For example, your cat may need a supplement if she has a medical condition
that makes her unable to absorb a particular nutrient. Small intestinal disease
can cause an inability to absorb the B vitamins folate and cobalamine. In
this case, the cat would require injections of those two supplements, as oral
supplements won’t be absorbed either.
Cats that are pregnant and nursing may develop nutritional deficiencies that
require supplementation, particularly if the cat becomes pregnant before age
10-12 months, Cruz says. Your vet can direct you to the appropriate
Types of Cat Supplements
General vitamins and minerals: A variety of single or multivitamin
products are available for cats. Most cat foods contain all the necessary
vitamins and minerals that a cat needs.
Essential fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids
are touted for their ability to keep a cat’s coat shiny and to prevent shedding. They also protect a
cat’s immune system, liver, eyes, brain, and joints. And, just like in humans,
omega-3 fatty acids boost heart health and fight high cholesterol. Cat
foods contain a lot more omega6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, so
some think supplementation is needed. But not everyone is sold on the
Probiotics: Probiotics are healthy, “good” bacteria that help
improve digestive health. They contain microorganisms such as Lactobacillus
acidophilus or Lactobacillus casei (also found in some
yogurts), which control the overgrowth of "bad" bacteria in the large