Omega-3: What Is It and What Benefits Does It Have for Cats?

An orange cat eating from an orange food bowl

Omega-3 has long been said to have many benefits for humans, including improving joint mobility, decreasing depression and improving the appearance of hair, skin and nails. But did you know it can also be good for your cat? Feeding your cat a complete and balanced diet with omega-3 is easy and can make a significant difference in their overall health. Learn more about what omega-3 is and how it can help your cat.

What is omega-3?

Omega-3 is a classification of fatty acids. There are 11 types of omega-3 fatty acids, but the most commonly discussed when it comes to benefits for pets are DHA (docahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), both of which can be found in marine sources.

What benefits does it have for your cat?

Omega-3 supplements have many of the same benefits for cats as they do for their human owners, including:

  • Healthy skin. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, making them a great choice for cats who have allergies or suffer from dry skin or hotspots.
  • A shiny coat and less shedding. Because fatty acids are just that — fat — they help give your cat a fuller, shinier coat. Omega-3s also improve the overall health of the hair follicles, which can decrease the amount of hair that is shed. This has an extra benefit for cats because less shed hair during self-grooming means fewer hairballs.
  • Joint health. Omega-3s decrease inflammation in the joints, which may be an issue for older cats who are suffering from arthritis. One study in particular found that cats that received daily doses of fish oil were better able to get around, including jumping and navigating stairs, than those that received a corn oil without omega-3s.

How can you get more omega-3 in your cat's diet?

Giving your cat omega-3s is as easy choosing a food that contains omega-rich ingredients, like salmon, mackerel or trout. You can also check your pet food label and look to see if fish oil or fishmeal is listed as an ingredient, or if the label states that the product has been enriched with DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). At Purina, our nutritionists have incorporated the appropriate level of these fatty acids into the ingredients of our formulas. 

Are omega-3 supplements safe for cats?

If you’re considering supplementing your cat’s diet with fish oil, check with your veterinarian. It’s important to check with your veterinarian before giving your pet any type of supplement as they will be able to tell you what dosage is appropriate for your pet.

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