2023 Guide to Feline Nutrition: What Vitamins Do Cats Need

icon July 10, 2023

Cats are strict carnivores and one of the best ways to keep them healthy and happy is to feed them a good diet. While a cat's diet consists primarily of protein and fat, it is important not to overlook the importance of essential vitamins. Feline vitamins are essential for producing the enzymes that help the body metabolize food and extract energy from it. But not every cat is the same or has the same nutritional needs. So what vitamins do cats need to maintain good health and longevity?
In this article, we will cover:

  • Why Are Vitamins Important for Cats?
  • What Vitamins Do Cats Need?
  • Sources of Vitamins
  • What is the Best Time to Give Vitamins to Cats?
  • How Often Should I Give My Cat Vitamins?
  • How Often Should I Give My Cat Vitamins?
  • Can I Give My Cat Human Vitamin B Complex?
  • Can Cats Take Multivitamins?

Why Are Vitamins Important for Cats?

1. To stay healthy

Vitamins are necessary for cats, just as they are for humans and many other animals. These organic compounds play a vital role in a variety of body functions and are necessary to maintain overall health and well-being.
Vitamins promote:

  • Bone development and blood clotting
  • Maintenance of vision and eye health in cats
  • Contribute to the health of a cat's skin and coat
  • Boosts a cat's immune system
  • Supports brain development

2. Reproductive health

Adequate vitamin levels are important for reproductive health in cats, particularly during pregnancy and lactation. Vitamins such as folate (a B-vitamin) are crucial for fetal development.

3. Symptoms of vitamin deficiency

Cats need a balanced diet to meet their nutritional needs, including essential vitamins. If they do not properly absorb enough vitamins through their cat food or supplements, their health may suffer. The following are some common signs of vitamin deficiency in cats:

Poor Coat Condition in Cats

What Vitamins Do Cats Need the Most? And Sources of Vitamins

How to Choose Vitamins

1. Vitamin A

Cats require vitamin A for healthy vision, immune function, and growth. It is found in animal-based sources such as liver, fish, and eggs. However, the best source of vitamin A is beta-carotene found in carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes. For cats who don't eat these foods regularly, vitamin supplementation may be required. 

2. B Vitamins

B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin), are crucial for various metabolic processes, energy production, and the health of the nervous system. These vitamins can be found in meat, fish, eggs, and some plant sources.
The most common deficiency of B vitamins in cats is anemia ( a lack of vitamin B12 ). And most vitamin B deficiency symptoms look like this:

  • Lethargy
  • Little to no appetite
  • Hair loss or alopecia
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Vomiting

If your cat displays any of these symptoms, always consult with your veterinarian.

Related: B Vitamin- Understand its Importance and Benefits

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps regulate calcium and phosphorus levels, promoting healthy bones and teeth. Cats can obtain vitamin D through exposure to sunlight or through specific dietary sources like fish liver oil and certain types of fish.

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage. It also supports the immune system. Good sources of vitamin E for cats include vegetable oils, fish, and some grains.

5. Vitamin K

Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone health. Cats can synthesize vitamin K to some extent, and it is also present in animal tissues and certain plant-based sources.

What is the Best Time to Give Vitamins to Cats?

Cats generally need a series of vitamin supplements from 3 months onwards. The best time to feed your cat vitamins is 1 hour around three of your cat's meals, or to incorporate vitamins into meals, and many cat vitamin supplements are designed to be mixed with or added to regular meals. This is a convenient and effective way to ensure your cat gets the necessary vitamins. Mixing vitamins with wet food or hiding them in snacks can make them more appealing to your cat.

But  It's important to carefully read and follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.

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How Often Should I Give My Cat Vitamins?

The best frequency is for cats to take vitamin tablets once every two or three days, but always follow the product instructions and your veterinarian's recommendations. If your veterinarian recommends giving your cat vitamins, be sure to ask how often they are given so you can develop a routine that works for you.

Most of the time, excess vitamins will just pass through your cat's body and be excreted through the urine. But too much of certain vitamins can actually be toxic to your cat. These include vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins don't pass through your cat's body like other vitamins, but instead accumulate in your cat's body and can cause toxicity.

Can I Give My Cat Human Vitamin B Complex?

No, it is not recommended to give your cat human vitamin B complex or any other human supplements without the guidance and approval of a veterinarian. Cats have different nutritional requirements than humans, and some substances that are safe for humans can be toxic to cats.

Can Cats Take Multivitamins?

Yes, vitamins for cats can be used for long periods of time, but they need to be fed appropriately and according to instructions. Feeding large quantities or exceeding your cat's daily requirement for a long period of time can easily lead to accumulation, which has a relatively certain health effect.
It is generally recommended that cats be supplemented with multivitamins, which mainly include vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin E, among others. At the same time, cats can also be supplemented with essential fatty acids and other nutrients, which can nourish the cat's fur and achieve the effect of hair beauty and reduce the amount of hair loss.

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If your cat is sick or unable to absorb nutrients due to illness, then giving them a vitamin supplement may be a good idea. But if your cat is very healthy and has a balanced diet, then giving them vitamins may not be necessary! Cat food already contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients your cat needs.
However, if you are considering giving your cat a vitamin supplement, whether it's multivitamins, essential fatty acids, or probiotics, be sure to consult your veterinarian beforehand. Your veterinarian will have the best idea if a vitamin supplement is necessary for your cat!

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