Vitamin A in Cats Functions, Signs of Deficiency and Excess

Vitamin A refers to a “group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds that includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and several provitamins A carotenoids (most notable beta-carotene),” notes Wikipedia.

They are essential not only to humans but also other animals since they play various vital functions in ensuring good or optimum health.

How much do cats require?

According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, cats require moderate amounts of vitamins A, about 63 µg a day for a 9-pound bunny that consumes 250 calories daily.

Additionally, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that their foods should have at least 9000 IU per kilo.

Vitamin A in cat diets
Vitamin A in cat diets

Egg yolks, fish liver oil, and liver are some of the good sources of these vitamins. Note that these animals are unable to utilize sources from plants. For instance, Feline Nutrition Foundation notes that they cannot convert beta-carotene from plant sources to retinol but can use retinol from animal sources directly.

However, high amounts or doses are not recommended as they can lead to not only to poisoning but also other symptoms we are going to look at.

Roles or functions

Functions of vitamin A in cats include aiding in cellular differentiation, growth, vision (especially night vision), development of the fetus in expectant ones and boosting their immunity. It helps in boosting immunity owing its antioxidant properties which will protect these pets from various cancers, pollution as well as other diseases.

Finally, they are very essential for a healthy coat, skin and proper functioning of their muscles.

Signs in of deficiency

According to the UK’s Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (PFMA), cats cannot make vitamin A. Therefore, it should be provided in their diets. Should their diets lack it, your feline friend will develop eyesight problems including cataracts, night blindness, conjunctivitis, and their retina may degenerate.

Furthermore, expect reproductive problems, muscle degeneration, and weight loss especially in kittens and pregnant cats. Therefore, ensure these pets get it in the recommended proportions.

In case of overdose or excess amounts

Oversupply is associated with toxicity since they are fat-soluble vitamins. For instance, should they be given in excess amounts or overdosed, there will be skeletal lesions in kittens where they may specifically suffer from an overgrowth of their cervical vertebra as well as get osteoporosis.

We have a detailed discussion of vitamin A toxicity in cats. However, it is good to mention some symptoms you may note which will include:

  • Lethargy
  • Inability to groom properly
  • Weight loss
  • Rough coat
  • Immobile joints or stiffness that may be accompanied by pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • They may assume an abnormal sitting posture such as that of a kangaroo.
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