Let’s Talk B12: Is Your Cat Missing It?

Welcome, dear readers.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How could my cat possibly be missing a silly 1980s pop band? I know, I thought the same thing, until I realized B12 is not actually a band but an essential vitamin. How essential? Let’s say it’s basically necessary for life as we know it.


What is it: A water-soluble vitamin, also called cobalamin, that is stored in the liver.

Where does it come from: It is released from food by hydrochloric acid in the stomach and then combined with Intrinsic Factor, a substance secreted from the lining of the stomach, to enable its absorption in the digestive tract. Excellent sources of B12 are liver, tuna, yogurt, eggs, and cottage cheese, mostly animal-based foods. People with pernicious anemia (an inability to create intrinsic factor) are B12 deficient because they cannot absorb it from their food, and vegans can also be at risk unless they make efforts to supplement.

What it does: It is REQUIRED for normal nerve cell activity; works alongside vitamin B9 to regulate iron function in the body; is essential for the production of DNA and RNA (our genetic material); helps in the formation of red blood cells; helps metabolize fatty acids, which helps avoid nerve degeneration, and more. Deficiencies can cause nausea, vomiting, malabsorption of food, gas, vomiting, constipation, weight loss, lethargy, fatigue, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. All things that can stop a conversation in its tracks, if you know what I mean.

Who might benefit from B12 supplementation? Cats with Exocrine Pancreative Insufficiency may need B12 because of their inability to properly digest their food. Cats with IBD and other intestinal disruptions, as well as older cats, may also benefit from this therapy.

Are we getting the point here that B12 is a VERY important vitamin? Now, why am I discussing it today?

You see, Mrs. Peabody, my nemesis sister has been having a lot of digestive troubles lately. The doctor prescribed that, along with a course of anti-biotics and careful food regulation, MomFOD should give her a B12 injection once a week for the next six weeks with follow-up injections every few weeks after that. The B12 will help repair her intestinal issues, as well as increase her appetite and even give her a boost of energy.

Mrs P, completely unaware of the tiny inject-able vitamin resting peacefully on her side.

Mrs P, completely unaware of the tiny inject-able vitamin resting peacefully on her side.

Is it safe to give at home? It is! Vitamin B12 is non-toxic and generally considered safe, even in large doses, in most people and animals. Consult your veterinarian for proper dosage and administration instructions.

Since Peabody is having trouble with food digestion, she is receiving injections that go directly into her blood stream, bypassing her intestines entirely. Rocky also received B12 injections for the last year of his life and helped him maintain his appetite and energy levels.

If you’re interested in B12 and think it might benefit your kitty, talk to your vet! S/he can train you how to give the subcutaneous injection (where to insert, how to check if you’ve hit an vessel, how to make sure you haven’t gone out the other side, etc.) to your cat. Scared of giving injections at home? Your vet can do it for you for a fee.



PS  Here’s a short video on how to administer the injections to your cat, not from us:

SOURCES and Further Reading:

PetMD.Com – Vitamin B12 Supplementation in Pets with EPI

Vitamins-Supplements.org – B12

IBDkitties.net – The Importance of B12