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Does My Cat Need Supplements? What You Need to Know!

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By Misty Layne

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We want our feline companions to be as healthy as possible so we can keep them around for a long time. So, we feed them the best food available, ensure they’re getting exercise, and always get to their vet appointments. But is there more to be done to keep our cats healthy?

What about supplements? Many of us take supplements to make up for any nutrients we might be lacking in our diets, so would supplements help our pets? When it comes to whether our cats need supplements, the answer is that in a few cases, supplements may help, but for the most part, our feline friends don’t need them (and, in fact, supplements may prove harmful).

Here’s what you should know about cats and supplements!

Why Cats Don’t Need Supplements

Unlike us, our cats don’t eat varied diets; instead, they (for the most part) eat the same food day in and day out. And pet food companies know this. So, pet food companies ensure they are formulating their products to meet all of our felines’ nutritional needs, which negates the need for any supplements1. Now, not all cat foods are the same—some may be healthier than others—but all commercial foods should meet your pet’s nutritional requirements. Look for the phrase “complete and balanced” food with the AAFCO stamp of approval.

Then there’s the fact that many pet food companies will base foods on life stages, such as kitten, adult, and senior. Because our pets have different nutritional requirements depending on their age, giving your cat food by life stages means the food changes as they grow to continue meeting their needs.

Either way, our cats are getting everything they need via their food, which means if they’re being given supplements on top of their food, they’re getting more nutrients than required—and overdoing it can be harmful to our cats.

pills out of a bottle
Image Credit: photo_gonzo, Shutterstock

Are There Any Cases Where Cats Need Supplements?

Though cats shouldn’t be given supplements for the most part, there are a few cases where supplements may help our pets2. After all, supplements are meant to be taken to correct nutritional deficiencies, and there are some instances where our felines can be nutritionally deficient.

  • One example of when a cat might do well with a supplement is when it’s sick or when it has a condition that makes it so the cat isn’t able to absorb certain nutrients. Diseases in the small intestine can create an inability to properly absorb folate, for example3. Your veterinarian will prescribe a special supplement or food for your cat in this case.
  • Another instance where supplements might be helpful is if a cat has joint issues or arthritis. Chondroitin and glucosamine are often paired to aid in slowing arthritis progression or to support joint function4. (Though you may find cat foods with extra chondroitin and glucosamine, which would be better than supplements.)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are another commonly given supplement5. Omega-3s are used as anti-inflammatories that keep joints, skin, and even certain organs healthier.
  • Finally, another case where a feline might do well with supplements is if it is suffering from feline dementia6. Certain vitamins and antioxidants like vitamins C and E can help in repairing and protecting brain cells.

The main thing to keep in mind if one is considering supplements for their cat is to always speak with your vet first. Because giving a cat supplements runs the risk of causing harm, a cat should never have supplements added to its regimen without a vet’s approval.

scottish cat taking vitamins
Image Credit: Anton27, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

The majority of cats do not require supplements, and, in fact, supplements may do more harm than good. However, there are a handful of cases where our feline friends could use the help of supplements, such as when they are ill, suffering from malabsorption, or dealing with feline dementia. The important thing to remember when dealing with cats and supplements is that one should never give a cat any supplements without first speaking with a vet to get approval and dosage information!

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

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Authored by

Misty Layne lives out in the woods in small-town Alabama with her two Siamese—Serafina and Jasper. She also has an array of stray cats, raccoons, and possums who like to call her front porch home. When she’s not writing about animals, you’ll find her writing poetry, stories, and film reviews (the animals are, by far, her favorite writing topic, though!). In her free time, Misty enjoys chilling with her cats, playing...Read more

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