How to Boost Vitamin B12 Intake for Cats

by Betty Lewis, Demand Media
    There are several ways to increase your cat's B12 level.

    There are several ways to increase your cat's B12 level.

    Has Fluffy been lethargic? Is she less interested in eating? One of the things to consider is that she may not be getting enough vitamin B12. B12 plays an important role in cats' growth and health. Fortunately, boosting her B12 level is fairly easy.

    Why Would My Cat Have a B12 Deficiency?

    There are a number of reasons why Fluffy may not be getting all the B12 she needs. Some cats have genetic disorders that keep them from absorbing B12. There are also gastrointestinal illnesses, such as pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that have the same effect. Cats that have diseases that cause them to urinate and drink more, such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism, also tend to be deficient in vitamin B12.
    It's important to note that the causes of B12 deficiency aren't all known. If your cat has symptoms of B12 deficiency, your vet should examine her to look for the cause.

    What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

    Typical symptoms of B12 deficiency include lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Some cats will have a difficult time walking or jumping and display some weakness in the hind end. In blood tests, red and white blood cell counts can be low or abnormal.

    How Can I Increase My Cat's B12 Intake?

    A simple way to start increasing the amount of B12 your cat gets is to make sure she gets plenty of it in her diet. Meat - particularly organ meats such as liver - is high in vitamin B12. There are oral supplements that come in capsules that can be added to Fluffy's food.
    Oral supplements and appropriate food will not work as a way to boost B12 for cats that have gastrointestinal diseases or a congenital condition. They have problems absorbing B12 (which is why they are deficient), so they don't benefit from taking the vitamin orally. If that's the case with Fluffy, she may benefit from B12 injections. Your vet can give her the shots as necessary or you may want to ask if you can administer this painless shot yourself at home.

    Subcutaneous Fluids - An Easy Way to Boost B12

    If your cat has a disease that may be causing her to be B12 deficient, such as chronic kidney disease, subcutaneous fluids can be an effective way to administer B12. Also known as fluid therapy, subcutaneous fluids are given under the skin and absorbed into the blood stream to prevent dehydration. Some cats receive fluid therapy as a part of treating their illness, so vets will often add B12 to the fluid. As with injections, there are no issues or worries that she will not absorb the B12 through her digestive tract.
    However your cat ends up receiving a boost in B12, it is highly likely that she will respond well to it. It is worth discussing the options with your veterinarian to learn what method Fluffy will respond to best.

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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