What is the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins in feline nutrition?

There’s a lot of debate in general about the need for feline vitamins. Advocates say it’s the path to keeping your pet healthy. Others say it’s not necessary, as long as the cat is fed a well-balanced diet and should only be used under a veterinarian’s advice.

Either way, vitamins are important, because they are catalysts for enzyme reactions. Tiny amounts of vitamins are essential to cats for normal metabolic functioning. Most vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body, and therefore are essential in the diet.

We need to remember that cats are very different on the inside and don’t have the same requirements as humans or dogs. There are some things to remember:

• Cats are carnivores, strict meat-eaters. In fact, they won’t survive without it.
• There are two types of vitamins; the fat soluble ones– A, D, E and K–and the water soluble ones, Bs and C. Fat soluble vitamins can’t be excreted so they just build up—sometimes with disastrous results.
• Vitamin C’s role. Supplementation for cats AND dogs is totally unnecessary since they manufacture it in their bodies, unlike humans. While not a fat soluble vitamin, too much C can cause overly acidic urine, which can lead to crystal formation and a life-threatening blockage.
• Vitamin A’s role. Most of us think of vitamin A being found in plant-based foods, such as carrots. Remember, though, cats are strict meat-eaters and, as such, lack the enzymes to break down the plant-produced cartenoids, so they need to find it in a preformed stage, such as a meat source.

These days, with over-supplementation, overdose is a lot more common than a deficiency: for example, excess vitamin A may result in bone and joint pain, brittle bones and dry skin. Excess vitamin D may result in very dense bones, soft tissue calcification and joint calcification.

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