Things To Consider Before
Modifying Your Cat's Diet
by Beth Zimmerman
Always check with a vet before adding anything to your cat's diet!
Giving your cat supplements without a vet's approval may actually be harmful. Supplements can:
1.) upset the delicate balance of nutrients that a cat needs, and
2.) too much of some can hinder the absorption of others, and some can
cause dangerous overdoses.
Although there are many claims about supplements, very little is known about their efficacy as "immune boosters." Just because they are natural or holistic doesn't mean they are non-toxic. There are few, if any, scientific studies that prove their safety and effectiveness in any species, and their quality and strength are not guaranteed. Since requirements and toxicity vary between species (and cats are uniquely sensitive to some vitamins, drugs, and herbs) , what is safe and effective for humans (or dogs) may not be for cats. You should not give cats medication intended for humans unless you have a vet's approval. Again, if you give your cat supplements, consult a vet to help you evaluate safety, effectiveness, proper doses, and to assure nutritional balance.
Do FeLV+ cats need supplements?
Discuss with your vet the possible benefits and appropriate use of supplements. Veterinary formulated supplements are usually prefered. A multi-vitamin/mineral supplement may help provide general support to the health of FeLV+ cats and may be helpful when they are sick and not eating properly. Some nutritional supplements may also help improve appetite and aid recovery. Other supplements may have benefical effects for FeLV+ cats or help treat specific conditions or health problems.
Antioxidants are often suggested, but you should be choose them with caution. Some, like vitamins A and C could cause problems. Cats need to consume vitamin A because they cannot synthesize it. But, too much can cause severe medical problems. Overdoses of vitamin A are more common than deficiencies because of unnecessary supplementation of a balanced diet. Cats can synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin C, so it isn't necessary to add it. Studies have failed to show any effectiveness of massive doses against disease. High doses of vitamin C are a risk factor for calcium oxalate formation because they acidify the urinary tract. The ascorbic acid may also cause other problems such as mouth and stomach irritation in cats. Discuss these possible dangers and other kinds of antioxidants possibilities with your vet.
Do supplements need to be added to a cat's diet?
Commercial cat foods with AAFCO approval are required to provide complete and balanced nutrition. The nutrition label on the package also supplies information on ingredients and essential nutrients. The major pet food companies have nutritional research centers and conduct feeding trials that ensure an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, additions could actually be harmful and should only be given with a vet's approval. Making your own cat food is difficult and the nutrients in the formula may not be available in the right quantities and proportions. Homemade diets also need to be very carefully supplemented. There is also a possibility of food-borne illness. A dietary formulated recipe from a feline nutritionalist should be followed.
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