Omega-3 and omega-6 are two essential fatty acids that are needed in the right balance to provide optimal health for dogs and cats. Both these fatty acids provide many health benefits. However, an excess of omega-3 can cause several serious inflammatory conditions in dogs and cats as they do in humans. Hence the right balance (ideally 5:1) of omega-6 to omega-3 is recommended for a healthy dog or cat. Here we will see about the many benefits of omega-3 for cats.
Benefits of Omega-3 for pet cats
The neural development of kittens requires omega-3. It also helps during pregnancy and lactation and strengthens the immune system. The ability of kittens and puppies to synthesize DHA is low. Hence, DHA must be provided in sufficient quantities to your cats and dogs.
Fish oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil all contain omega-3 and help to improve vision, skin and coat in cats and dogs. Consuming the right quantities of omega-3 can also reduce the dermatological problems cats and dogs suffer from and lower cholesterol levels.
For a beautiful coat : A healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is needed for shiny and healthy coats in cats. Linoleic acid found in omega-6 is the key to maintaining a healthy coat and skin. However, excess of this can lead to various inflammatory conditions such as scratching, excessive itching and licking of the inflammations. A thick and shiny coat looks beautiful makes your cat happy too and to maintain this, you must give them the best nutritionally balanced diet possible.
There are pet foods that provide omega-3 for cats as fish and fish oil. This contains both EPA and DHA that your cat needs. What is more, it also counters the damaging effects of omega-6 that most pet foods do contain. Omega-3 acts like a COX inhibitor by offsetting the inflammatory derivatives contained in AA (arachidonic acid) which is the precursor to such conditions.
Omega 3 Benefits for Geriatric cats : Your pets bone and joint health depends greatly on the type of food they consume. During a cat’s life cycle – infancy, growing stage, adult and geriatric – different nutrient combinations in the right proportions can give them best health. In the senior geriatric phase, the physiological functions and metabolism rates deteriorate just like in humans. A cat is said to have become old when it has completed 1/3rd of its typical life span.
When they are old, the organs of cats will not be capable of making the best possible use of nutrients. This leads to various diseases that can affect their health and lower the quality of life. EPA and DHA are both essential for the growing and aging period of cats. They help with geriatric conditions in cats such as cardiovascular disease, behavioral problems and kidney problems and arthritis.
Osteoarthritis : Senior cats that display signs of aching joints could be suffering from osteoarthritis that is a degenerative disease of the joints. This can be pronounced during damp, cold weather. Apart from medications that your veterinarian can prescribe, you can also include foods rich in omega-3 that can act along with COX inhibitors and control inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
Are pet foods sufficient for Omega 3?
According to the National Research Council, long-chain omega-3 for cats is sufficient to meet their nutritional needs of this essential nutrient. Hence, cat food that has fish meal, fish oil and fish will give the essential requirements of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
When you buy cat food, you must check the label very carefully. Most of them are formulated using vegetable oils that provide only ALA (alpha-linolenic) acid. Cats do not have enough enzyme activity to convert ALA to EPA + DHA. Hence, you must choose cat food that has EPA and DHA for ALA provides little or no value to your cat.
Since it is difficult to know the exact amount of omega-3 for cats is available in pet foods, you can provide alternate sources of EPA and DHA for your cat. Since these are easily found in fish and fish products and cats love fish, you can supplement cat food with some fish. Cats ingest and digest fish easily and it is easily absorbed by the body. If you prefer to opt for pet foods, then choose one that is enriched with the long-chain fatty acids. For adult cats, the recommended intake of DHA+EPA is set at 0.01% of dry matter. As you can see, small quantities of long-chain acids are sufficient to provide sufficient benefits of omega-3 for cats.
Do Omega 3 cat supplements work?
Experts state that this depends on the advocates of these supplements. Supplement manufacturers will say that cats must have this as an extension of their diet. Other pet experts state that if the cat is generally healthy, using a high quality cat food is sufficient. Supplements are needed if your cat suffers from a condition that prevents it from absorbing nutrition in the proper way. Sometimes pregnant and lactating cats will also need extra supplement of omega-3.
Omega-3 supplements for cats can prevent hair shedding, protects the liver, brain, eyes, immune system and joints. It also protects the heart. Since most cat foods contain a lot of omega-6, some experts suggest using an omega-3 supplement to counter the negative effects of excessive omega-6.
Always consult your veterinarian who will be able to tell you what kind of deficiencies if any your cat suffers from and then recommend the appropriate supplement – be it essential fatty acids, general minerals and vitamins or probiotics.
As we have seen, benefits of omega-3 for cats are got mainly from EPA and DHA. Fish, fish meals and fish oil provide these sources. Cats do not require too much of ALA-based vegetable sources of omega-3. Check the ingredients section of any pet food you buy for the quantity of omega-3 – DHA and EPA – it contains. This will ensure that your cat receives the best source of omega-3 for good health.