Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B-complex group. Biotin helps the body convert carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. The body does not store biotin – it is made by bacteria in the intestinal tract. Your cat needs sufficient biotin for a healthy coat and claws.
Functions of Biotin
In addition to converting food into energy, biotin also helps the body get rid of by-products from protein. As carnivores, a cat’s diet is high in protein, and they need sufficient biotin to process and excrete it. Also called vitamin H, biotin supports the thyroid and adrenal glands and the reproductive and nervous systems. Biotin also helps the body use other B-complex vitamins and maintains healthy skin, coat and claws.
In cats, the major sign of biotin deficiency is skin problems. The cat will look scruffy, and lesions will start on the legs and face and spread to the rest of the body. Deficiencies are not common, but are sometimes seen after a long period of antibody treatment. This is because antibodies can deplete the bacteria in the intestine that produce biotin. Too much consumption of raw eggs can also result in biotin deficiency, as a protein found in egg whites prevents the body’s absorption of biotin.
According to the FDA, biotin does not need to be added to your cat’s diet unless the diet contains anti-bacterial or anti-vitamin compounds that have depleted your cat’s biotin. However, biotin is widely available as a pet supplement in various forms, often labeled as a product that improves skin, coat and nails. Biotin is commonly recommended for cats with allergies and itchy skin.
According to the FDA, a cat food labeled “complete and balanced” contains enough biotin for your cat's needs. Foods that naturally contain biotin include nuts, whole grains, egg yolk, meat, fish and organ meat. If you’re feeding your cat a raw diet, consult your veterinarian about foods your cat should not eat.
Leslie Darling has been a writer since 2003, writing regularly for "Mississippi Magazine" and "South Mississippi Living," specializing in food and wine, animals and pets, and all things Southern. She is a graduate of the University of New Orleans.