Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 22, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Written by Dr. Serge Martinod
Sometimes it seems like your cute little kitten is growing up in the blink of an eye. In order to ensure that your kitten grows into a happy and healthy mature cat, it is important to understand what constitutes a healthy lifestyle so your cat can get the most purring, toy chasing and ear scratches out of life.
Aging is a complex biological process that predisposes cats to chronic diseases including behavior changes, limited mobility or kidney malfunction. To help them develop properly as kittens and age gracefully into senior cats, added Omega-3 DHA is a major dietary need for all cats.
Benefits for kittens
DHA is an important building block of the brain and, kittens will experience a sharper nervous system and visual abilities when supplemented as pre-natal kittens and up until the first nine months of life. Daily supplementation of DHA is recommended for pregnant and lactating cats for proper brain and nervous system development of their offspring. Improvement in neurological development will not only better your kitten’s life, but play a significant role in enhancing the bond between the two of you.
DHA plays a crucial role in brain function and resolution of inflammation. Animals can only synthesize this fatty acid in small quantities through food or food supplements.
Benefits for senior cats
With proper treatment, the results of aging can be modified to ensure the best quality of life for your senior cat. Just as Omega-3 DHA supplements are vital for developing kittens, the same supplements are important to prevent and ease the degeneration of the brain in senior cats.
Twenty-eight percent of cats from age 11 to 14 years develop at least one behavioral change. This increases to more than 50% for cats age 15 years or older. This change in behavior is also known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome or CDS and it develops due to a decrease in brain DHA. Managing age-related problems during a cat’s younger years can go a long way toward helping cats live longer and healthier lives.
There is mounting evidence that supplementation with DHA may be effective in combating such problems through neuro-protection and anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress properties. We recommend 8 mg to 10 mg of DHA per kg per day for this indication.
How to choose the right supplement
The quality of the Omega-3 DHA supplement you provide your cat or kitten with is very important. We recommend supplying your pet with a microalgae DHA rather than DHA derived from fish sources so you do not have to worry about the possible trace amounts of mercury, PCBs, dioxins, environmental contaminants, or other environmental concerns such as overfishing.
Because Omega-3s have many additional benefits including cardiac health, renal health, reduction of skin inflammation and control of allergies, and even reduction of the rate and recurrence of neoplasia (cancer), they are an excellent addition to the diets of most senior cats. For these senior cats, a dose of 15 to 20 mg per kg per day is recommended to manage inflammation.
The processing of commercial pet food renders DHA and EPA inactive, so in order for your cat to get sufficient amounts, supplementation may be necessary. Unless you’re supplementing omega-3 fatty acids daily, your feline companion is probably not getting sufficient amounts.
Dr. Martinod is co-founder and president of Arcanatura. Arcanatura brings you new, multifaceted herbal veterinary medicine for dogs, horses and cats that, according to the company, is evidence-based, scientifically founded and clinically proven. They utilize 100% natural, renewable and sustainable ingredients like soothing plant essential oils and naturally anti-bacterial extracts. They guarantee the safety and efficacy of their ingredients.
Featured Image Credit: inxti, Shutterstock
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.