Enhancing feline immunity through nutrition

Rutherfurd-Markwick KJ, Hendriks WH, Morel PCH and Thomas DG. The potential for enhancement of immunity in cats by dietary supplementation. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2013; 152: 333-40.

This study was undertaken to evaluate the use of dietary supplements on the immune system of cats. Forty-three cats (8 or 9 per group) were fed a low protein control diet (22.7% dry matter basis), the same diet supplemented with yeast-derived nucleotides, salmon oil, or l-arginine or a commercial moist high protein diet (53.0% dry matter basis) for a period of five weeks.

Results showed that supplementation with arginine enhanced the function of T lymphocytes, an important component of cell-mediated immunity. Supplementation with salmon oil or yeast-derived nucleotides also produced enhanced T cell activity. All three components also led to increased phagocytic ability (the ability to ingest and destroy pathogens) of white blood cells.

The authors concluded, “This indicates that a number of dietary ingredients have the ability to modulate the immune system of healthy cats possibly resulting in a greater ability to fight infection and disease.” All supplementation should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian, as some supplements may be harmful to cats. [MK]

See also:
Park HJ, Park JS, Hayek MG, Reinhart GA and Chew BP. Dietary fish oil and flaxseed oil suppress inflammation and immunity in cats. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2011; 141: 301-6.