Can I Give My Cat Biotin?
Humans have always been interested in improving health, vitality, and longevity, but it seems that dietary supplements are more popular now than ever before. While we may have been enamored by medications and elaborate treatments for our most common illnesses throughout much of the twentieth century, many of us have grown skeptical of prescription medications. With decreased trust in pharmaceuticals has come the growth of nutrition as medicine, both by eating healthy foods and by taking dietary supplements. One of the more popular dietary supplements among those who are seeking health and beauty is biotin.
Those of us who pay as close attention to our cat’s diets as our own are faced with a dilemma: should we give our cats dietary supplements, too? Will my shorthair sprout a silky, luxurious coat if we share our vitamin and mineral pills with them? After all, this nutrient, also known as Vitamin H, is very easy to find anywhere over-the-counter supplements are sold. Can cats have biotin?
The answer is technically yes, you can give your cat biotin, but not without consulting a veterinarian beforehand. Most cats have no need for dietary supplements, and since so little research has been performed on biotin supplements in felines, it is usually better to use them conservatively. That said, there are reports of some cats benefiting from taking a daily biotin supplement. If you think that your cat may be deficient in any vitamin or mineral, or if they have chronic skin problems, make sure you talk to a veterinarian before adding anything to their diet!
According to the FDA, healthy cats do not require biotin supplementation, but there is not any evidence that it will cause serious harm to their bodies. As a water-soluble vitamin, biotin will simply pass through the body if it goes unused. Because biotin will simply be excreted in your cat’s urine, there is a very low risk of toxicity. If your cat is going to suffer from poisoning after raiding your medicine cabinet, biotin tablets probably are not the culprit.
It is unlikely that your cat will grow a head full of Rapunzel hair as a result of biotin supplementation, but some pet parents report seeing dramatic improvements in their cats’ skin and fur. Because biotin helps process energy, ensuring that nutrients are delivered to skin and hair follicle cells, it may alleviate mild skin and hair problems. If your cat is suffering from symptoms such as dandruff, itching, or dull, thinning, or coarse fur, adding biotin and healthy fatty acids to their diet may help.
This is not to say that adding a biotin supplement to your cat’s diet will improve their health—far from it. Though many supplements for humans and their pets are marketed as miracle drugs or cure-all superfoods, they are not; even the most potent biotin supplement is still just a vitamin! If your cat has any health problems, mild or severe, you must consult a veterinarian and acquire a proper diagnosis.
Things to Consider
Any time that you attempt to treat your cat’s health problems with over-the-counter supplements, you run the risk of treating the wrong thing, worsening their illness, or wasting time trying to treat a potentially life-threatening illness with vitamins. Many of our cats’ symptoms of nutritional imbalance are ambiguous. Your cat’s hair loss may be a result of biotin deficiency, but it can also be a result of something more sinister, such as cancer. If your cat has cancer, feeding them biotin supplements is only delaying the veterinary care they desperately need.
If you decide to give your cat biotin, make sure you purchase a supplement that has been formulated specifically for felines. For dosing instructions, ask your veterinarian, and pay close attention to the type of supplement they recommend. In most cases, you will need to read the ingredients carefully to make sure that they are biotin-only supplements. Many of the products available in stores contain a blend of nutrients that may cause an imbalance.
In conclusion, biotin supplements are safe for cats—and may sometimes be beneficial—but you should never give your cat any type of supplement without consulting a veterinarian. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from some sort of deficiency, go to a vet to get a diagnosis. This will make sure you are treating the correct problem!