What Is Vitamin B12 Used for in Cats?

Sometimes a shot of B12 is just what the doctor ordered.

Sometimes a shot of B12 is just what the doctor ordered.

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water soluble vitamin that keeps Kitty feeling and functioning well. Day to day, it helps keep her nerve cells healthy and works towards making red blood cells. If she's feeling poorly, B12 can help increase her energy and appetite.

B12 Deficiency

If Kitty's been lethargic or weak, she may be showing signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency is normal if cats have gastrointestinal disease, such as irritable bowel disease, or diseases that increase urination and thirst, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease. B12 deficient cats may also vomit or suffer from diarrhea, have problems walking or jumping, and have abnormal white and/or red blood cell counts since B12's so important in nerve cell and red blood cell health and production. If your vet learns that Kitty is B12 deficient, she should have a full exam with blood work to determine the cause of her deficiency.

Kidney Disease

If Kitty has chronic kidney disease (CKD), she may be losing B12 in her urine since the vitamin is water soluble. Giving her B12 supplements can help with problems that come with CKD, such as anemia, loss of appetite, constipation and incontinence.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

It's common for cats with pancreatitis or irritable bowel disease to have low levels of B12. Disorders in the gastrointestinal system can inhibit the absorption of the vitamin and if Kitty is experiencing any vomiting or diarrhea with her condition, she could be losing even more B12. Texas A&M University recommends cats with gastrointestinal disorders be monitored for B12 levels, with supplemental subcutaneous injections when necessary.


Sometimes cats with diabetes will suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which is more commonly known as weakness in the rear legs. Vets have prescribed B12 for cats who experience this complication. Injections given once or twice a week can help Kitty recover from this problem faster.

B12 Supplements

Sufficient B12 is important for Kitty's good intestinal health and brain function. If you think she may benefit from supplements, talk to your vet about the appropriate form and dose. B12 is available in oral supplements and subcutaneous injections. The method of delivery will depend on what Kitty's issues are and how effective her body will be at absorbing the vitamin.

About the Author

Betty Lewis has been writing professionally since 2000, specializing in animal care and issues, business analysis and homeland security. Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University as well as master’s degrees from Old Dominion University and Tulane University.

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