Do older cats need vitamins?

Vitamin E
Vitamin E. Illustration: PoC.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The question is asking whether older cats need vitamin supplements. In other words do they need extra vitamins on top of what they are ingesting through their normal diet? The answer is that older cats need more vitamins and minerals because their ability to absorb vitamins through the intestinal tract is diminished. Also, B vitamins are lost in the urine if the cat has reduced kidney function which is not untypical for elderly cats.

High-quality cat food manufactured for elderly cats contains added B vitamins and balanced minerals. If you are purchasing these products you do not need to give your cat added vitamin and mineral supplements. You may like to discuss the matter with your veterinarian because there may be other issues to take into consideration.

There is also the issue of antioxidants. Antioxidants slow down or prevent the damage done to cells by free radicals. Free radicals are created as a result of oxidation which occurs in normal and damaged tissues. A free radical is a molecule which is missing an electron, which they steal from a protein or a piece of DNA. This damages the cell.

Antioxidants replace or donate the molecule missing from a free radical. As a result the effect is neutralised but the antioxidant needs to be replaced. Some veterinarians believe that if there is an accumulation of free radicals the ageing process is accelerated and it may lead to degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Some veterinarians believe that antioxidants can help elderly cats be more healthy although at this time I’m not sure that there is evidence supporting this. However there is extensive research into their benefits for people. VCA hospitals say that the ‘results of clinical data show some benefit to pets with allergies and arthritis’. They say that antioxidants are successful in reducing the negative effects of inflammation ‘when used appropriately’. The antioxidants most used are vitamin E, vitamin C and co-enzyme Q. Your veterinarian will prescribe an antioxidant to supplement your cat’s diet.

Source other than VCA Hospitals: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook pages 508-509.


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