What actually goes into a cat multivitamin?
Just like the human iterations, cat multivitamins vary from brand to brand and bottle to bottle. However, there are a few key ingredients you’ll almost always find.
“Most contain varying blends of taurine, which is an amino acid that’s essential for heart function in cats. Taurine must be obtained from a cat’s diet, as they cannot produce it themselves,” says Jamie Richardson, DVM, medical chief of staff for Small Door Veterinaryin New York. “Cat multivitamins also often contain B vitamins, probiotics, electrolytes, omega fatty acids and iron.”
Richardson explains that an omega fatty acid supplementation can help decrease inflammation associated with arthritis, atopic dermatitis (also known as eczema), chronic kidney disease and can even help improve heart and brain function as your cat ages.
As for those probiotics (a type of healthy bacteria), Richardson say that they may improve or maintain gastrointestinal health, meaning they can help keep your kitty’s gut and digestive system in tip-top shape. “The benefits of probiotics on gastrointestinal health and the gut biome are well established, and we are establishing possible links between gut health and overall systemic body health,” she notes.
“B vitamins play an important role in the production of red blood cells, as well as digestive, nervous system and skin health,” Richardson adds, while, “electrolytes regulate nerve and muscle function and help balance hydration and the blood’s pH. Iron is also vital for the development of red blood cells, deficiencies of which can lead to anemia.”
Well, it sure sounds like cat multivitamins are packed with benefits!
So… should I give my cat a multivitamin?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on what sort of food your cat eats. For example, if you feed your cat a well-balanced diet that meets the basic nutritional requirements for a cat as established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AFFCO), then a cat multivitamin might not be absolutely necessary, but could instead serve as bonus nutrition. (Always consult your vet before introducing any new supplements to your cat’s diet—more on that later!)
However, Richardson says that if your cat food, whether a commercial diet or home-cooked, doesn’t meet your kitty’s nutritional requirements—be sure to discuss with your veterinarian what your individual cat requires to stay healthy—then a multivitamin becomes integral to their health and wellbeing.
To make a long story short: A cat multivitamin serves as a quick and easy solution in cases where your cat isn’t getting the proper amount of vital nutrients—specifically taurine, omega fatty acids and probiotics. They can also serve as a bonus opportunity to supplement the nutrients your cat is already receiving in their daily meals.