London, May 14 (IANS) The secret of a sick cat’s survival lies in the levels of vitamin D in its body, says a new study. Researchers found that higher levels of vitamin D are linked to better survival chances for hospitalised pet cats, and suggested that cats may hold vital clues about the health benefits of vitamin D.
“Cats could prove useful for investigating the complex link between vitamin D and a range of health problems that also affect people,” said researchers.
The findings may also help vets to give owners better advice about their pets’ prognosis, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh. They examined blood samples from 99 pet cats that were admitted to the University’s Small Animal Hospital with life threatening conditions.
With the owners’ permission, the team checked the levels of vitamin D in the cats’ blood on admission. They found that cats with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were more likely to be alive 30 days after admission than those with the lowest levels.
This could help vets to predict which animals are more likely to survive their illness. Vitamin D has been linked to addressing a range of health problems in people, including cancer, infections and multiple sclerosis.
It is found in oily fish, cheese and egg yolks and is available as a supplement from health food stores. Humans can also produce vitamin D in the skin after exposure to sunshine but cats can only obtain it from their food.
“It is important to remember that too much vitamin D can be poisonous to cats. Most cat foods contain a standard amount of vitamin D and there is no need for owners to add supplements,” said Richard Mellanby, head of Small Animal Medicine at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.