4 min read

Vitamin E for Cats


Save on pet insurance for your pet

You don't have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.


Vitamin E is an essential vitamin for people and cats alike. Just like us, our feline friends require this important nutrient in their diets for optimal health. It’s easy to find vitamin E supplements for humans in health food stores and online, but what about cats?

While cats usually get all their daily vitamins in their food, there are some cases where they may become deficient. In this guide, we'll cover everything from what vitamin E does for cats, how much they need, signs of a deficiency and more. Keep reading to learn all about vitamin E for cats!

multi-colored cat getting a pill from human hand


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. It supports the immune system and the body’s ability to form red blood cells. As a major antioxidant, it provides protection against oxidative stress, which can negatively affect cell membranes, neurological function, vision, and cardiovascular health, among others.  

What exactly do antioxidants do? Antioxidants are molecules that counter a substance called free radicals. While free radicals are a normal result of oxidation and metabolism, they can cause various health issues if not controlled. Antioxidants such as vitamin E stabilize free radicals and prevent oxidative damage, helping to keep your cat healthy.

Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin E for cats is also recommended as an additional treatment for different chronic inflammatory or immune-mediated disorders, particularly those of the skin and gastrointestinal tract. 

How much vitamin E does a cat need? The recommended allowance set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), National Research Council (NRC), and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is between 0.75 IU and 2 IU per 100 kcal ME. The average feline consumes 120 to 160 kcal ME in a day, so an adult cat will need 1 to 3 IU of vitamin E per day. Kittens, as well as pregnant and nursing cats, will require higher amounts.

For commercial pet food, AAFCO and NRC recommend that adult cat food provides 30 IU of vitamin E per kg of dry matter. Note that this refers to per kg of diet, not per kg of body weight.

spinach leaves in a bowl

Food sources

Since vitamin E is produced by plants, the most common food sources are dark leafy greens and vegetable oils. Vitamin E can be found in:

  • Spinach
  • Dandelion greens
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Butternut squash
  • Soybean oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Cold-pressed vegetable oils contain the most vitamin E as it is lost during the refinement process. In commercial cat foods, it is added in the form of alpha-tocopherol, which is the most effective type of vitamin E for cats to support cell health. 

Signs of Vitamin E deficiency in cats

Compared to dogs, cats are more prone to vitamin E deficiency due to the nature of their diets.  Fish and fish by-products are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are extremely susceptible to oxidation. Diets high in PUFAs can lead to vitamin E deficiency and yellow fat disease in cats. 

The more PUFAs a cat consumes, the higher their vitamin E requirement. As mentioned above, commercial adult cat food should contain 30 IU of vitamin E per kg of dry matter. AAFCO recommends that commercial cat foods containing fish oil be supplemented with 10 IU of vitamin E for every gram of fish oil per kg of diet. 

Signs that a cat is deficient in vitamin E include:

Yellow fat disease, also known as steatitis, refers to inflammation of the fatty tissue. Most known cases of the disease are seen in animals whose diets consist completely or partially of fish or fish by-products. It is also more likely to occur in young and obese cats. Signs of yellow fat disease in cats include:

  • Dull coat
  • Dry skin
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of agility
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever 
  • Lumpy fat deposits under the skin
  • Pain in the back or abdomen

Treatment of Vitamin E deficiency

Certain signs of vitamin E deficiency such as muscle weakness can be prevented with supplementation of vitamin E and other nutrients and antioxidants. 

To treat yellow fat disease, the excessive fat source must be removed from the diet. The cat must also be given at least 30 mg of vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol daily. Antibiotics are not prescribed even if there is a fever and the white blood cell count is elevated as the condition is not caused by bacteria. Yellow fat disease can be painful, so pain medications may also be given and handling should be minimized.

Signs of Vitamin E overdose in cats

Is vitamin E safe for pets? While vitamin E has no known acute toxicity in felines, there is currently no defined safe upper limit for vitamin E for cats and dosing should not exceed the recommended amounts. Too much vitamin E can interfere with vitamin K activity which could result in prolonged bleeding times. High doses of vitamin E have also been associated with an increased risk of mortality in humans, although this has not been studied in cats.

grey cat sniffing pill in veterinary professional's hand

Vitamin E supplements for cats

Vitamin E is given to cats to prevent symptoms of vitamin E deficiency, such as muscle weakness. It is also used to treat conditions caused by vitamin E deficiency like yellow fat disease. While vitamin E is not toxic to cats, it can be harmful if given in doses above the recommended amounts. 

Vitamin E supplements are available in powder and liquid forms, and in natural and synthetic versions. Natural vitamin E is more potent than synthetic vitamin E. To know if a vitamin is natural or synthetic, simply look at the prefix. Vitamins made in a laboratory start with “dl-” (e.g., dl-tocopheryl acetate), while vitamins extracted from natural sources start with “d-” (e.g., d-alpha-tocopherol).

If you think your feline friend might benefit from a supplement, talk to your vet for the best vitamin E for cats. However, cats who eat a complete and balanced diet likely do not need to take supplements.

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that plays a very important role in your cat’s health. Mostly found in plant-based food sources, it is a major antioxidant that protects against free radicals and oxidative stress. While vitamin E overdose in felines is not so common, cats can be prone to vitamin E deficiency if their diets consist of fish or fish by-products. A balanced diet can ensure your cat gets enough vitamin E. 

The symptoms of vitamin E deficiency can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today

Need Pet Insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews


© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.