Why do cats need vitamin D in their diets?

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Vitamin D regulates the calcium and phosphorous balance in your cat’s body. It also promotes the retention of calcium, assisting bone formation and nerve and muscle control.

Usually, bodies can manufacturer vitamin D in their bodies by sun-synthesis. Cats, although they love sunshine, can’t produce this vitamin in their bodies so it must be provided through diet. Pet food manufacturers include it in their foods, and it can also be found in other foods, namely eggs, liver, fish and do liver oil.

It’s important to understand that, important as it is, vitamin D is also one of the fat-soluble vitamins. That means it can’t be excreted so it builds up to a potentially toxic level. One of the most common sources of vitamin D poisoning in cats is by ingesting pesticides, specifically the chemicals used to kill rodents. Although cats of all ages are susceptible to this poisoning, young cats and kittens are at higher risk.

Symptoms usually develop within 12 to 36 hours after ingestion of rodent killing agents. However, the time in which the symptoms become readily visible may vary depending on the source of vitamin D toxicity.

It is important to remember that vitamin D toxicity isn’t just caused by ingesting rodent-killing chemicals, but can also occur though excessive use in the diet, drugs or supplements.

Vitamin D toxicity is a serious medical emergency that can results in electrolyte imbalances, anemia, seizures and ultimately death. It requires immediate treatment and hospitalization. In fact, the initial 72 hours are crucial in saving the life of your cat. If the compound containing toxic amounts of vitamin D was ingested recently, your veterinarian will induce vomiting. There are also various drugs that bind the toxic compounds and prevent further vitamin D absorption

Such symptoms may include:

• Vomiting
• Weakness
• Depression
• Lack of appetite
• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Dark tarry feces containing blood
• Blood in vomit
• Loss of weight
• Constipation
• Seizures
• Muscle tremors
• Abdominal pain
• Excessive drooling

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