How Effective Are Cat Vitamins and Supplements?

Many pet owners wonder if they should give their cat vitamins or supplements. All pets require essential vitamins to function. Whether you should give your cat multi-vitamin products or other supplements, such as omega-3 or omega-6 pills, depends upon your cat's diet and nutritive health. Vitamins may be very useful in promoting good overall health and preventing certain diseases. However, certain vitamins may actually cause more health problems than they cure for your cat, so it's important to be informed about cat vitamins and supplements.

Cats are carnivores, and most cat food consists of processed meat products. During the processing of the food, and while the food remains in storage, some of the essential vitamins and minerals are lost. Therefore, it's often helpful to supplement your cat's diet with certain vitamin products. Read any food labels carefully to determine the vitamins that those foods contain, and speak with your veterinarian for advice on any particular vitamins that may be missing from those foods.

Types of Vitamin Supplements

Vitamins are either water-soluble or fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins, like Vitamin C, the B Vitamins and folic acid, dissolve naturally in your cat's body. Your cat will expel excess water-soluble vitamins through his urine. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, do not dissolve naturally. These vitamins, including Vitamins A, D, E and K will not pass through your cat's system naturally, and may build up to toxic levels in your cat's body if he ingests an excessive quantity. For this reason, be especially careful when supplementing your cat's diet with fat-soluble vitamins.

Benefits of Vitamin Supplements

A multi-vitamin supplement may be helpful in promoting overall health in your cat. However, individual vitamin supplements are more useful in addressing or preventing particular medical conditions. For instance, fatty acids help to encourage a healthy heart and kidneys, and may also reduce the effects of arthritis in your cat. Probiotics, on the other hand, are microorganisms that help to promote a healthy digestive tract.

Veterinarians recommend these and other vitamin supplements routinely. They are generally effective in promoting good health. However, if your cat has a specific health condition, giving him a vitamin supplement is not an adequate form of treatment. You should speak with a veterinarian to learn about appropriate treatment methods, which may include a vitamin supplement along with a number of other elements.

Homeopathic and holistic supplements are available in a largely unregulated market. While many of these supplements are highly effective, others are less so and may actually harm your cat's health. It's always wise to consult with a veterinarian before beginning a vitamin or supplement regimen. Doing so will ensure that you don't purchase ineffective or unnecessary supplements, and that your cat receives the vitamins and minerals that he needs.