Nutritional supplements for pets seem to be everywhere these days and there are many products made specifically for cats. There is also a large range of products, from the more ordinary vitamins pills and calcium tablets to Brewer’s yeast, cod liver oil and even exotic shark cartilage.
Manufacturers will tell you that their supplements are essential for keeping your cat in good health, but is that really so? Should we as cat owners add the extra vitamins, minerals and others nutrients to our cats’ diet?
Types of Supplements
Commercial nutritional supplements come in a variety of forms and names. Some simply contain one essential nutrient or a synthetic combination of several. This group includes calcium, multi-vitamins and taurine supplements.
Others products contain extracts of some natural substance, which is said to have a beneficial or therapeutic effect. These supplements include garlic, brewers yeast and cod liver oil.
Does My Cat Need Nutritional Supplements? (Hint: probably not…)
Feline nutrition experts seem to agree that good quality cat food has more than enough of all the nutrients your cat needs. In the past couple of decades pet food companies have managed to reach optimal formulas for cat foods. These formulas have been thoroughly tested to make sure they make a complete and well balanced diet.
Furthermore, some nutrients can actually be harmful if given in excess. When overdosed, some nutrients can either be toxic in themselves or they can prevent the absorption of other essential substances and lead to serious nutritional deficiencies.
Indeed, there are life stages where regular cat food formula may be inadequate. Kittens, pregnant and lactating cats, elderly and sick cats may all need a different balance of nutrients. However, even then, in most cases, it is best to switch to the right cat food formula rather than try and supplement regular cat food. Numerous cat food formulas are available for different life stages as well as for most medical conditions (though you may need to get the rare ones from your vet). These formulas have a different balance of nutrients, which has been tried and tested for these particular conditions.
When You Should Use Nutritional Supplements for Your Cat
There are cases when you actually should supplement your cat’s diet with some extra nutrients. This usually happens if the cat suffers from a deficiency in one or more nutritional substances. The following conditions may require the need for supplementation:
- Cats that have been fed dog food or low quality cat food for some time.
- Cats that are recovering from a particular medical condition.
- Cats that are fed an imbalanced home made diet.
Remember, even if you suspect that your cat suffers from a nutritional imbalance you should always consult your vet before giving any supplements. The same is true if when you want to try some alternative natural approach to treating your cat, which involves supplementing her food.
Even totally natural products can be harmful to some cats. If you feel that your vet is too conservative in her or his approach, you may want to try looking for a qualified vet that specializes in alternative medicine for pets.
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