Feline Dietary 3 :: Nutrients, Minerals and Vitamins

Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients all play vital roles in your kitty's diet and her future health. In kittens, the right combination of nutrients helps ensure proper development that allows them to develop into adulthood. An excessive increase or decrease in certain vitamins or minerals can cause considerable harm to your kitten or cat in her developmental stages and her future health as well. Feeding generic labeled pet foods, or those that are not designed for balanced nutrition, and feeding raw or natural diets can cause considerable amount of harm to your kitten or cat if fed in excess or if fed improperly. Please remember that these types of diets are not completely balanced or nutritionally complete and most need additional supplementation to provide a complete and balanced diet. Some commercially prepared diets and most premium brand pet foods provide the necessary balance of vitamins and minerals needed for proper growth and development, but not all pet foods are equal.

Please talk with your vet about selecting the proper diet for your kitten or adult cat. Your kitty is depending on you to provide her the proper nutrition to best benefit her future needs. In times of illness or stress, for example, some diets are not appropriate. Your vet can help answer questions you may have about specific diets geared for specific problems, as well as those geared for individual life stages.

The following tables are only intended as a guide to help you understand the importance of these elements in your kitty's diet. Having an idea of the effects of a nutrient excess or depletion can give you a better idea of the proper diet to select for your kitten or adult cat. Please do not hesitate to ask your vet or talk with pet food manufacturers when you are in the process of selecting that perfect diet for your kitty.

Note: No internet website on feline nutrition should be considered the authority on feline nutrition and therefore we strongly advise you to speak in greater detail with your vet about your kitty's diet and in selecting the proper diet for her particular needs. YOU are responsible for choosing the best diet for her future health, please choose carefully and involve your vet and his/her knowledge in your decisions. Remember, what one kitty might do well on does not mean another kitty will do the same. Each kitty has individual needs and you must make your decisions based on facts and proven methods, NOT on heresay or unproven "information" found on the internet. Please be responsible in your choices, your kitty is depending on you.


MINERAL Unit Requirement In Diet Requirement Deficiency Excess
0.5 ** - 0.9
Occurs when meat or organ tissue compromise majority of diet. INITIALLY: lameness, stiffness, reluctance to move, constipation, enlarged metaphyses, splayed toes, carpal and tarsal hyperextension. CHRONIC: spontaneous fractures, limb deviations, anorexia, dehydration, loose teeth. ACUTE: tetany. Most common cause is oversupplementation. May cause phosphorus, zinc, iron and copper deficiencies. Slows growth, decreases thyroid function, and may predispose to bloat.
0.2 ** - 0.6
Generally due to excessive calcium supplementation. Causes depraved appetite and same signs as a calcium deficiency. From: oversupplementation or high P diets. Major effect is to cause Ca deficiency. If Ca is increased enough to offset excess P, it results in excess Ca. Excess P promotes renal damage.
Due to excess losses from diarrhea or diuretics, or inadequate intake because of anorexia. Causes anorexia, weakness, lethargy and decreased muscle tone, which may cause head drooping, ataxia and ascending paralysis. Does not occur unless there is oliguria. Causes hyperkalemia, same signs as a deficiency, cardiotoxicity and death.
0.1 - 0.5+
Polyuria, salt hunger, pica, weight loss, fatigue, agalactia, and slow growth.++ ACUTE: Occurs only if there is inadequate nonsaline, good quality water available. Causes thirst, pruritis, constipation, anorexia, seizures and death.++ CHRONIC: High amounts in many pet foods may induce hypertension resulting in increased heart and renal diseases.
0.05 - 0.10+
Retarded growth, spreading of toes and hyperextension of carpus and tarsus, hyperirritability, convulsions, soft tissue calcification, enlargement of the metaphysis of long bones.++ Acute excess intake causes diarrhea because of poor absorption.++ Chronic intake of high amounts present in many cat foods contributes to urolithiasis and cystitis.
May occur if fed milk exclusively for an extended period or secondary to blood loss. Causes microcytic-hypochromic anemia, anisocytosis and poikilocytosis of erythrocytes. Anorexia, weight loss, hypoalbuminemia, hemochromatosis.++ Death following excess administration to young, particularly if they are vitamin E or selenium deficient.++
Anorexia, weight loss, slow growth, emesis, generalized thinning of hair coat, scaly dermatitis, parakeratosis, hair depigmentation, decreased testicular development and wound healing, depression, and peripheral lymphadenopathy. Causes a calcium and/or copper deficiency.++
May be caused by excess zinc, iron or molybdenum. Slow growth, bone lesions similar to calcium deficiency, pica and liver copper less than 20 ug/g wet wt. Reported that anemia, hair depigmentation and diarrhea don't occur in cats as they do in other species. Occurs in Bedlington Terriers due to inability to mobilize hepatic copper, resulting in signs of liver disease
Impaired reproduction, abotion, enlarged joints, stiffness, reluctance to move, short, thick and brittle bones.++ Partial albinism, impaired fertility.++
Hypothyroidism, goiter, alopecia, fetal resorption, cretinism, myxedema, lethargy, drowsiness, timidity. At necropsy, feline thyroid weight is over 12 mg/100g body weight. Same as a deficiency.++
"White muscle disease", skeletal and cardiac myopathy. Based on data in other species: Nervousness, anorexia, vomiting, weakness, ataxia, dyspnea and death due to pulmonary edema within hours to days.++

*   Based on a diet providing 4.0 kcal metabolizable energy/g. For diets with a different caloric density, multiply the amount given times the quotient of (kcal/g of that diet divided by 4).
** Ca should equal or exceed P and twice these amounts are recommended during growth and lactation.
+  The greater amount is recommended during lactation.
++This mineral imbalance is rare in dogs and cats.



Vitamins A, D, E, and K Vitamins B and C (absorbic acid)
Absorbed and Excreted with Fats Water
Required in diet of healthy animals Yes, although minimal for K since it is produced by intestinal bacteria. No, or minimal amounts needed because B vitamins are produced by bacteria in the intestinal tract, which decreases dietary need. The B-vitamin Niacin is also produced, although quite inefficiently, from the amino acid tryptophan by all animals except cats. Vitamin C is produced from glucose in the liver in adequate quantities to meet the needs of all animals except primates, guinea pigs, fruit bats, red vented bulbul birds, coho salmon, and rainbow trout.
Major dietary sources Liver, fats and oils, egg yolks and cereal grain germ. Liver, yeast, egg yolks and whole cereal grain, and for vitamin C fresh fruits and vegetables.
Form in foods All but vitamin E occur as inactive pro-vitamins in non-animal source foods. Cats, in contrast to other animals, are unable to convert the inactive pro-vitamin, beta-carotine, to vitamin A. The cat, therefore, must consume preformed vitamin A, which is present only in animal tissues. Occur as the active form in all foods.
Body storage Yes, except K No, except B12 of which a 3-5 year supply is stored in the liver.
Deficiencies occur when ++ Body storage is depleted.++ Water excretion increases, or intake or synthesis in body decreases (e.g., oral antibiotics at high levels for prolonged periods).++
Functions: Deficiencies are manifested by alterations in these functions. A = vision, hearing, tract lining, skin and bone (controls cell differentiation and regulates rate of mitosis)
D = bone, teeth, and calcium and phosphorus absorption and utilization.
E = antioxidant, muscle, fat and reproduction.
K = blood clotting.
B's = appetite and metabolism
C = wound healing and capillary fragility, i.e., anti-hemorrhage, anti-scurvy.
Toxicities ++ Excesses can't be excreted so toxicities of A and D occur.++
4 times the vitamin D requirement increases plasma cholesterol and 10 times causes calcium deposition in soft tissue. ++
50-100 times the vitamin A requirement is necessary to cause toxicity. Excess carotene intake won't cause vitamin A toxicity.++
Excesses excreted so toxicities usually don't occur.



A (3.3 IU = 1 mg retinol)
Reproductive failure, retinal degeneration, tearing, papilledema, keratomalacia, night blindness, photophobia, conjunctivitis, poor coat, weakness of hind legs, increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. Plasma vitamin A less than 10 ug retinol or 45 IU/dl.+ Anorexia, weight loss, bone decalcification, hyperesthesia, plasma vitamin A above 600 ug retinol or 1800 IU/dl (normal is 40-100 ug/dl).
D (40 IU = 1 ug)
Rickets in young, osteomalacia in adults, lordosis, chest deformity and poor eruption of permanent teeth.+ Anorexia, weight loss, nausea, fatigue, soft tissue calcification, hypercalcemia, diarrhea, dehydration, death.
E (alpha-tocopherol)
Reproductive failure with weak or dead feti. Muscular dystrophy, pansteatitis, progressive retinal atrophy, intestinal lipofuscinosis (brown gut disease) impaired immunity.+ Anorexia. None others
None others recorded.
K Not required except during antibacterial therapy or chronic ileal or colonic disease. Increased clotting time and hemorrhage.+ None recorded, but high levels probably dangerous.
C Not required for normal cats. Retarded healing, increased susceptibility to disease, hemorrhage, anemia, rickets.+ Generally considered non-toxic.
Thiamin (B1)
Anorexia, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, paralysis, prostration, abnormal reflexes, ataxia, convulsions, cardiac disorders, ventral flexion of neck, called "Chastek Paralysis", mydriasis.+ Non-toxic.
Riboflavin (B12)
Dry scaly skin, erythema, posterior muscular weakness, anemia, sudden death, cheilosis, glossitis, pannus, reduced fertility, fatty liver, testicular hypoplasia.+ Non-toxic
"Black tongue", hemorrhagic diarrhea, anemia, reddening and ulcertaion of mucous membranes of mouth and tongue, death.
In cats only signs may be diarrhea, emaciation and death.+
Dilation of blood vessels, itching, burning of skin.
Pyridoxine (B6)
Microcytic hypochromic anemia, high serum iron, atherosclerosis, convulsions.+ None recorded.
Pantothenic Acid
Anorexia, hypoglycemia, hypochloremia, BUN increase, gastritis, enteritis, convulsions, fatty liver, coma and death.+ None recorded.
Folic Acid (Pteroyl-glutamic Acid)
Due to blood loss, or prolonged malabsorption, or sulfonamide administration. Hypoplasia of bone marrow, macrocytic anemia, glossitis.+ Non-toxic.
Scaly dermatitis, alopecia, dried saliva around mouth and secretions around eyes, weakness, diarrhea, progressive spasticity and posterior paralysis.+ Non-toxic.
Cobalamin (B12)
Doesn't occur clinically, experimentally causes a macrocytic anemia.+ Non-toxic.
Fatty liver, hypoalbuminemia, and increased alkaline phosphatase, prothrombin time, hemoglobin and hematocrit.+ Persistent diarrhea caused by 10 g/day or greater.

*   Twice these amounts are recommended during growth and lactation.
** Based on a diet providing 4.0 kcal metabolizable energy/g. For diets with a different caloric density, multiply the amount given times the quotient of (kcal/g of that diet divided by 4).
+  All result in retarded growth or weight loss and most in anorexia.
++Although routinely listed as a vitamin it is not and is not needed for metabolism. It is needed as a structural component of fat and nervous tissue.


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