Natural Medicine for Cats

August 23, 2012 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Natural medicine isn’t the exclusive domain of two legged creatures. Cats, dogs, horses and virtually every other domesticated animal can likewise be assisted by the judicious application of holistic principles. What’s more, over the past few decades, researchers in the field of veterinary care have been devoting more and more money and time to this very topic. In particular, an emphasis has been placed on evaluating the role of dietary components in relation to inflammatory conditions that frequently affect older felines.

Degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis tops the list of “wear and tear” diseases in both animals and humans alike. A just published study in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition reports that supplementing the diets of aging cats with concentrated fish oil significantly improves osteoarthritic symptoms such as low activity levels, poor mobility and stiffness. The dosage used in the research was 1.53 grams of EPA and .31 grams of DHA, the two primary fatty acids found in fish oil, for every 1000 calories consumed. Previous research that investigated the effects of a cat food fortified with fish oil and various other nutraceuticals (chondroitin, glucosamine and green-lipped mussel extract) also revealed a decline in arthritis related disease activity.

The promise of omega-3 fatty acids in combating inflammation extends far beyond the aches and pains associated with arthritis. Recent studies indicate that fish oil and, to a lesser extent, flax seed oil may be useful in modulating an overactive immune system – the underlying cause of a variety of autoimmune diseases. Asthma and miliary dermatitis, an allergic skin disease caused by flea bites, also appear to be responsive to fish oil therapy. Combining fish oil with evening primrose oil, a source of a rare fatty acid known as GLA or gamma linolenic acid, may provide additional benefits for cats with dermatological concerns.

Many of the health promoting properties fish oil imparts in humans extend to feline companions. For instance, a study appearing in the September 2011 issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research found that cats with higher serum levels of EPA were less likely to exhibit risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease. However, there are a few precautions that cat owners ought to be aware of prior to the indiscriminate use of fish oil. For one thing, when large amounts of omega-3 fats are present in a cat’s diet, a higher amount of Vitamin E is required. It’s also important to note that fish oil can influence bleeding time under certain circumstances. Therefore, as a precaution, your veterinarian should be made aware if you decide to use a cat food or supplements containing therapeutic levels of DHA, EPA or flax seed oil.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – The Effect of Dietary Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation (link)

Study 2 –Evaluation of a Therapeutic Diet for Feline Degenerative Joint Disease(link)

Study 3 – Dietary Fish Oil and Flaxseed Oil Suppress Inflammation and Immunity (link)

Study 4 – The Effect of the Addition of Oil Preparation with Increased Content of (link)

Study 5 – Effect of Varying Proportions of Evening Primrose Oil and Fish Oil on(link)

Study 6 – Prophylactic Effects of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and (link)

Study 7 – Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Serum Concentrations of Adipokines in (link)

Study 8 – Vitamin E Requirement of Adult Cats Increases Slightly with High Dietary (link)

Study 9 – Manipulation of Dietary (n-6) and (n-3) Fatty Acids Alters Platelet (link)

Study 10 – The Effects of N-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Bleeding Time (link)

Fish Oil Intake Affects Vitamin E Requirements

Source: J Nutr. 2002 Jun; 132 (6 Suppl 2) :1613S-5S. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements

3 Comments & Updates to “Natural Medicine for Cats”

  1. JP Says:

    Update 04/21/15:

    Anaerobe. 2015 Apr 8;34:14-23.

    Microbiota and probiotics in canine and feline welfare.

    Dogs and cats have been cohabiting with us for thousands of years. They are the major human companions. Today, dogs and cats live in urban areas. Cats and most dogs are on high carbohydrate diets and face similar life-style challenges as the human beings. The health and well-being of companion animals, just as their owners, depends on the gut microbes. Providing a proper care and nutritionally balanced diet to companion animals is recognised as a part of our responsibility to maintain the health and well being of our pet. However, as microbiota differences may facilitate exposure to pathogens and harmful environmental influences, it is prudent to search for novel tools to protect dogs and cats and at the same time the human owners from pathogens. Specific probiotic strains and/or their defined combinations may be useful in the canine and feline nutrition, therapy, and care. Probiotic supplementations have been successful in the prevention and treatment of acute gastroenteritis, treatment of IBD, and prevention of allergy in companion animals. New challenges for probiotic applications include maintenance of obesity and overweight, urogenital tract infections, Helicobacter gastritis and parasitic infections. The probiotics of human origin appear to be among the new promising tools for the maintenance of pets’ health. However, the host-derived microorganisms might be the most appropriate probiotic source. Therefore, more controlled trials are needed to characterise new and safe probiotic preparations with an impact on general health and well being as well as health maintenance in dogs and cats.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Update 05/18/05:

    PLoS One. 2015 May 13;10(5):e0125997.

    Vitamin d status predicts 30 day mortality in hospitalised cats.

    Vitamin D insufficiency, defined as low serum concentrations of the major circulating form of vitamin D, 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), has been associated with the development of numerous infectious, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders in humans. In addition, vitamin D insufficiency has been found to be predictive of mortality for many disorders. However, interpretation of human studies is difficult since vitamin D status is influenced by many factors, including diet, season, latitude, and exposure to UV radiation. In contrast, domesticated cats do not produce vitamin D cutaneously, and most cats are fed a commercial diet containing a relatively standard amount of vitamin D. Consequently, domesticated cats are an attractive model system in which to examine the relationship between serum 25(OH)D and health outcomes. The hypothesis of this study was that vitamin D status would predict short term, all-cause mortality in domesticated cats. Serum concentrations of 25(OH)D, together with a wide range of other clinical, hematological, and biochemical parameters, were measured in 99 consecutively hospitalised cats. Cats which died within 30 days of initial assessment had significantly lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations than cats which survived. In a linear regression model including 12 clinical variables, serum 25(OH)D concentration in the lower tertile was significantly predictive of mortality. The odds ratio of mortality within 30 days was 8.27 (95% confidence interval 2.54-31.52) for cats with a serum 25(OH)D concentration in the lower tertile. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that low serum 25(OH)D concentration status is an independent predictor of short term mortality in cats.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 07/29/16:

    BMC Vet Res. 2015 Nov 16;11:284.

    Lysine supplementation is not effective for the prevention or treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 infection in cats: a systematic review.

    BACKGROUND: Feline herpesvirus 1 is a highly contagious virus that affects many cats. Virus infection presents with flu-like signs and irritation of ocular and nasal regions. While cats can recover from active infections without medical treatment, examination by a veterinarian is recommended. Lysine supplementation appears to be a popular intervention (recommended by > 90 % of veterinarians in cat hospitals). We investigated the scientific merit of lysine supplementation by systematically reviewing all relevant literature.

    METHODS: NCBI’s PubMed database was used to search for published work on lysine and feline herpesvirus 1, as well as lysine and human herpesvirus 1. Seven studies on lysine and feline herpesvirus 1 (two in vitro studies and 5 studies with cats), and 10 publications on lysine and human herpesvirus 1 (three in vitro studies and 7 clinical trials) were included for qualitative analysis.

    RESULTS: There is evidence at multiple levels that lysine supplementation is not effective for the prevention or treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 infection in cats. Lysine does not have any antiviral properties, but is believed to act by lowering arginine levels. However, lysine does not antagonize arginine in cats, and evidence that low intracellular arginine concentrations would inhibit viral replication is lacking. Furthermore, lowering arginine levels is highly undesirable since cats cannot synthesize this amino acid themselves. Arginine deficiency will result in hyperammonemia, which may be fatal. In vitro studies with feline herpesvirus 1 showed that lysine has no effect on the replication kinetics of the virus. Finally, and most importantly, several clinical studies with cats have shown that lysine is not effective for the prevention or the treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 infection, and some even reported increased infection frequency and disease severity in cats receiving lysine supplementation.

    CONCLUSION: We recommend an immediate stop of lysine supplementation because of the complete lack of any scientific evidence for its efficacy.

    Be well!


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