Fatty acids for cats have been used by owners for several years to help rejuvenate hair coats.
However, what was not well known, even in the medical community until recently, is the vast reach of health benefits that these acids provide.
They do much more than just protect your cat’s skin and coat; they also help with allergies, controlling the attack of inflammation, as well as protecting several of your cats organs.
They also have very few side effects, other than the fact that they do add calories to your cat’s diet. However, if they are not given in excess, the benefits far outweigh this risk.
Fatty acids for cats are very specific types of polyunsaturated fats, and the major conception is that there are two categories; Omega 3 and Omega 6.
However, this is not correct, as there is also a very little known third category, Omega 9, which adds even more power to this group as they can help with your cats overall cardiovascular health.
This fatty acid is also gaining a lot of momentum with people in the form of canola oil.
But there is a drawback to Omega 9; it reduces the amounts both Omega 3 and 6 in your cats blood and skin.
Cats can produce some of the fatty acids that they need in their system, but not all of them.
The categories that cannot be produced must be obtained by your cat in their diet or by supplements and as such are called essential fatty acids.
However, much like several of the nutrients, it will all depend on the animal.
For example, arachidonic acid is not essential for dogs, but it is for cats. In fully understanding the importance of these fatty acids, it is helpful to understand how they work.
In some diseases that may attack your cat, there are certain enzymes that actually convert one of the types of fatty acids to another type that become deficient.
Or, in some cases, your cat may not be able to fully absorb the fatty acid into their intestines.
If this does occur, the forms of fatty acids that are considered non-essential suddenly become essential.
There is also another possible danger with these acids; if you have your cat on a fat reducing or restricting diet, it can easily cause a deficiency of either of the two major forms.
There is also one other very important aspect for owners to be aware of; fatty acids are extremely subject to degradation.
If food is overcooked, it can destroy the acids, and if food is not stored properly, it can cause rancidity to occur which also destroys them.
Omega-3 is perhaps the best known forms of fatty acids for cats and include ALA, Alpha-linolenic acid, EPA, which is Eicosapentaenoic acid, as well as DHA, which is Docosahexaenoic acid.
It is also helpful to understand that ALA can be converted into EPA, however, this conversion does not occur in your cats skin.
This is the main reason it has been supplemented for so many years as it helps with your cat’s skin coat.
EPA is critical, as it is considered the major player of the three types of fatty acids for cats, and plays a major role in your cat’s cell membranes.
Omega-6 fatty acids have four types; LA, which is Linoleic acid, GLA, which is Gamma linolenic acid, DGLA, which is Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, and AA, which is known as Arachidonic acid.
This form of the fatty acids also plays a major role in your cats skin, as LA can be converted to GLA in your cat, but again, not in their skin.
DGLA can be made from GLA in the skin, but only if the previous conversion takes place. LA is extremely important to your cat as it optimizes the permeability of water their skin.
The least known of the fatty acids for cats, Omega-9, has only one form, Oleic acid.
It is the main component that is found in canola oil, sunflower oil, and olive oil as it is not nearly as essential for your cat as it actually reduces the amounts of both 3 and 6 in their system.
The ratios of fatty acids in cats are also very helpful to know, simply because most all commercial cat foods contain far more omega-6 than omega-3.
This is starting to change, however, as there has been a lot of research in the medical community on this subject.
Until recently, the recommend ratio was 15:1, or 15 parts of omega-6 to 1 part of omega-3.
Most cat foods companies, because of this research, are now changing the formula to 10:1 to as low as 5:1.
The major reason for this is the added importance that omega-3 and the additional benefits.
Fatty acids for cats can be found in fats, but in varying degrees.
Beef fat has a very low actual percentage of fatty acids; while on the other hand, sunflower oil and fish oil is rich in both quantities as well as quality.
Much like any other nutrient, the quality is much more important than the quantity.
Marine fish oils are outstanding sources of EPA and DPA, while sunflower and safflower oil is very rich in LA.
In rare cases where your cat may actually be allergic to fish, you can substitute the seeds of the Saliva hispanica plant in their place.
Fatty acids for cats can provide several benefits well beyond just their skin and hair coats. The next huge benefit is what it does for inflammation.
Both AA and EPA are found in your cat cell membranes, and when a cell in your pet is damaged, AA is released and is metabolized by enzymes into various substances that cause itching in your cat.
EPA is also released when this damage occurs, and it competes with AA for these same enzymes.
If your cat’s diet has a high quality of fatty acids in their diet or through supplements, the EPA is strengthened, and as a result, your cats itching will be dramatically reduced.
However, this is just the beginning of the many benefits of quality, not quantity, of these critical fatty acids.
Allergies as well as the very important functions of auto-immune conditions, occur in your cat as the result of their system over reacting to a foreign invasion.
Quality forms of fatty acids can not only lessen theses effects, they can in some cases, prevent them.
Arthritis has also recently been shown by research to be drastically reduced by fatty acids for cats, particularly EPA, which is part of the omega-3 grouping.
Other forms of inflammatory disease such as colitis, IBD or inflammatory bowel disease, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, can also be reduced by additional omega-3 in quality.
It is for these reasons that the ratio has been reformulated by the medical community and the major reason owners should pay more attention to omega 3.
Fatty acids in cats have also been linked to yeast infections and slowing down the growth process, as well as milinary dermatitis.
However, this is still not the complete list.
High quality fatty acids have now been linked to slowing and reducing atopy, as well as assisting with several eye conditions.
It has also shown to be very beneficial to your cat’s proper development of their retina and visual cortex.
There is also new evidence emerging that not only omega-9, but omega-3 as well, has several heart related benefits for your cat.
But there is one other factor that is still not fully documented, and that is with cancer.
Omega-3 has been linked to reducing or slowing the development of certain cancers, while omega-6 has been recently shown to stimulate this growth.
For this reason alone, you should make sure the ratio is correct and is another reason the ratio has gone from 15:1 to 5:1 for fatty acids for cats.
Fatty acids for cats have long been associated with bringing the life back to your pets skin and hair coats.
But in just the last few years, the additional benefits and some of the medical discoveries have literally leaped off of the charts for these critical nutrients.
If you are not providing them for your cat in quality, perhaps you should take a second look at them.
The key is not quantity, but the quality, and fish oil and sunflower oil lead the way.
Sources for Fatty Acids for Cats
Cat Vitamin Store
Vitamins for Cats