Vitamin C, also referred as to ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin found in some foods, added to some or made by some animals. It can also be in other forms including mineral or sodium ascorbate (a salt of ascorbic acid).
It is commonly found in fruits including kiwi fruits, oranges, mangoes, papaya, berries, cantaloupe as well as in vegetables including broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, green and red peppers, spinach, cabbage, sweet and white potatoes, and so on.
Functions in cats
Ascorbic acid is very essential to these pets. It plays several important roles in their bodies which include
- It will improve your cat’s immunity and neutralize free radicals since it is a strong antioxidant. Additionally, it fights infections, helps heal wounds, broken bone, and so on.
- Also, it promotes the development and it is essential for growth.
- Third, it helps in collagen formation and maintenance. Collagen is an important part of the body’s connective tissue.
- Furthermore, it helps ensure good teeth and bones.
- Aids in iron absorption
- According to Riva’s Remedies, it has antiviral and antibiotic properties and it may help heal virus and bacteria. However, there is little scientific evidence to back up these claims.
Do cats need vitamin C?
Unlike human beings, some animals, including cats and dogs can synthesize their own vitamin C in their livers using glucose. Therefore, it is not right to assume that your feline friend is lacking this essential vitamin if you see him or her eating grass or other leafy greens.
To clarify things, you do not need to give ascorbic to cats or even dogs as they can make enough amounts to meet their daily needs. Only under some special circumstances, we are going to discuss later.
Many manufacturers of multivitamin often insist of the importance of giving your cats gel, tablets, powdered or liquid vitamin C. Some claim these pets cannot make enough or daily exercise can deplete it among other reasons.
Remember these pets do not even suffer from scurvy that results from a deficiency of ascorbic acid as in the case of human beings even if they are not supplemented. Only do so if your vet recommends it.
When can it be supplemented?
Usually, you will find this vitamin in various forms including tablets, capsules, crystals, liquid (solution), powdered or those that can be used in injection preparation.
During extreme illness, stress, or need for high metabolism, your vet may recommend an additional dose of ascorbic acid since these situations may hamper normal synthesis.
Secondly, cats with liver disease may need it supplemented since their liver may lose its ability to make enough of this vitamin. Your vet will determine the required amounts. Do not decide on dosages by yourself as giving them too much may only make things worse.
According to Petplace.com, ascorbic acid is used to treat acetaminophen toxicity, prevent struvite uroliths (by acidifying urine), treat some of the complications that may arise from feline immunodeficiency virus infection as well as be used as a supportive measure for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome treatments.
For acetaminophen toxicity, the “dosage is 15 mg per pound (30 mg/kg) injected under the skin or 10 mg per pound (20 mg/kg) given intravenously every 6 hours for seven treatments.”
Finally, PetMD notes that supplementation can help manage conditions or disease that involve in oxidative damage, i.e., “medical conditions associated with “free radical” formation from oxygen metabolism that can damage normal cells.” Cancer and cancer treatment therapies, asthma, heart disease, and dementia are some of such disease.
Risks of excessive amounts
The first possible risk is the formation of oxalates if you give your feline friend too much of this vitamin beyond what their body can handle. Remember, they must metabolize the excess and get rid of it from their body through urine as oxalates.
High amounts of oxalates raise the chances of calcium oxalates stones which may be deposited in the urinary tract including inside their kidney as well as their bladder and can only be removed surgically.
Since it helps in iron absorption, excessive amounts may mean more iron absorption which is harmful.
Moreover, large amounts of the vitamin may cause stomach upsets or interact with other medications. Therefore, only your vet should prescribe any amount.
Therefore, we can conclude that vitamin c is good for cats but does not need to be supplemented unless for the reasons we have stated.
Whereas your feline friend might not require ascorbic acid, he or she needs other nutrients including minerals, fatty acids, proteins, other vitamins, and water.
Being common questions, we intend to in question-answer form tackle the issues of vitamin c for cats with cancer, cold and urinary tract infection in separate posts to ensure the issue is well answered.