Folic Acid Deficiency in Cats

Folic acid is essential for glowing kitty health.

Folic acid is essential for glowing kitty health.

Dietary deficiencies are pesky stumbling blocks on the path to kitty well-being. It's not unusual for a feline to experience a deficiency of folic acid, a water-soluble B vitamin useful for cell production within the body. The vital vitamin is also known both as "vitamin B9" and "folate."

Why Is Folic Acid Important to a Cat's Body?

Folic acid provides a variety of benefits to cats, including elevation of blood oxygen levels, production of oxygen, synthesis of DNA, assistance in the metabolism of fat, and promotion of proper growth and development. When a cat doesn't consume enough folic acid in her diet, nutritional deficiency will be unavoidable, and ultimately a breakdown will begin. The body processes will begin to run less smoothly, in no specific pattern. Signs may or may not take a long time to appear.

Food Sources

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, folic acid comes from an array of sources including kidney, liver, yeast, wheat, green veggies and grass. The vitamin is in a nursing mother cat's milk. It is a common component in many cat foods both wet and dry. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended folic acid daily dosage for cats is 47 micrograms. Most kittens -- nursing and weaned -- and adult cats receive sufficient folic acid in their typical diets. Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors often receive folic acid from grass, as it is a main component in grass' juices. However, in instances cats just don't get enough of the vitamin. Use of antibiotic medications, for example, may affect a cat's folic acid levels as these drugs are capable of killing the microbes responsible for proper synthesis. Also, if a cat unfortunately eats more "people food" or treats than she should, in lieu of a healthy cat diet, deficiency may come into play that way.

Anemia

In cats, deficiency of folic acid can sometimes lead to anemia, a major concern. Folic acid is vital for producing oxygen within the bloodstream, so without sufficient levels of it a cat may become significantly more susceptible to the red blood cell disorder. Folic acid helps create hemoglobin, a protein important for oxygen transportation within the blood.

Visible Effects

When a cat suffers from insufficient folic acid levels, the results are sometimes visible. According to the National Academy of Sciences, slow growth rate is a telltale sign of folic acid deficiency. Although the deficiency can affect felines of all ages, growth development issues are a problem only for younger ones. If your young cat's physical development seems to be slower than usual, take her to the veterinarian for a checkup.

Management

A veterinarian may be able to help you put together a nutritious, folic-acid-rich diet to get your pet back on track. Folic acid supplements also may be helpful for your cat. All you have to do is mix the stuff into your cat's normal food. Not a bad deal!

 

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images