Vitamin C is essential to growth, development and a strong immune system in both cats and people. As a human, you must get it from the foods you eat, and perhaps even from supplements. Your feline buddy is different. For him, vitamin C supplementation is needless, and could be harmful.
Call of the Wild
Your cat is a master of many survival skills. He is a natural-born nocturnal hunter, and his prolonged sleeping habits are to prepare for those hunts. His playful swatting episodes and bouts of shredding up the household practice his predator skills. He's an obligate carnivore, which means he cannot derive nutritional benefit from plant materials or their products. He's completely adapted to obtain his necessary nutrients from the animal tissues he eats and from what his own body manufactures.
No Help Needed
You know your kitty is a remarkable creature, and one of the fascinating feats he can accomplish happens in his liver. There, your feline pal synthesizes all the vitamin C he needs, without even thinking about it. This is something you can't do, so you must eat foods that will supply the vitamin C you need. If you go by your own needs and add liquid vitamin C to your cat's diet, you are trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.
Cats are especially prone to forming urinary stones, and this risk increases with unnatural vitamin C supplementation. Ingested vitamin C converts to a substance called oxalate, which can eventually form a type of bladder stone. Oxalate stones cannot be dissolved with prescription diets, and can only be removed surgically. As with anything where your cat's health is involved, it's always best to consult with your veterinarian before adding supplements of any kind to your kitty's complete and balanced diet.
Importance of Vitamin C
Vitamin C synthesized in your feline friend's liver is used by his body in the same ways your body uses the vitamin C you must obtain from your food. Vitamin C is essential for formation of the collagen that is a major component of the body's connective tissues, so it's necessary for growth, development and maintenance. Humans who don't get vitamin C in their diet will fall ill with scurvy as their bodies deteriorate. Because of his ability to synthesize vitamin C, your feline pal is not subject to scurvy. Vitamin C also helps keep the immune system strong.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in Chicago, Jennifer Lutz has extensive experience in the veterinary field including writing, editing, consulting, education, sales and clinical work. Her articles have appeared in "Chicago Tails Media," The Nest Pets and Webvet. She has a Bachelor of Science in zoology from Michigan State University, and certification in medical writing and editing from the University of Chicago.