Why Antioxidants Are Good For Your Cat

Antioxidants are good for your cat because they play a key role in minimizing damage to cells, including cells of the immune system. These important, naturally occurring nutrients help maintain health by slowing the destructive oxidative process of cellular molecules. They also can be important in supporting immune responses and vaccine recognition in cats. This may be especially critical for kittens that are being vaccinated while their immune system is still developing.

Additionally, antioxidants can reverse decreases in immune-cell function for senior cats, increasing them back to healthy adult levels.

The face of a brown and black cat staring with a blurred background

Antioxidants in IAMS™ Cat Foods

Antioxidants are nutrients found naturally in the body and in plants such as fruits and vegetables. Common antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E and certain compounds called carotenoids (including lutein and beta-carotene). A blend of several antioxidants in moderate amounts may be more effective than high levels of one antioxidant.

 

How Antioxidants Work

As cells function normally in the body, they produce damaged molecules called free radicals. These free radicals are highly unstable and steal components from other cellular molecules, such as fat, protein or DNA, thereby spreading the damage.

This damage continues in a chain reaction, and entire cells soon become damaged and die in a process called peroxidation. Peroxidation is useful because it helps the body destroy cells that have outlived their usefulness and kills germs and parasites. However, when left unchecked, peroxidation also destroys or damages healthy cells.

Antioxidants help prevent widespread cellular destruction by willingly donating components to stabilize free radicals. More importantly, antioxidants return to the surface of the cell to stabilize rather than damage other cellular components.

When there are not enough antioxidants to hold peroxidation in check, free radicals begin damaging healthy cells, which can lead to problems. For example, free radical damage to immune cells can lead to an increased risk of infection.

 

Antioxidants and Your Cat’s Immune Response System

Because antioxidants play a key role in minimizing damage to cells, such as those that make up the immune system, recent research examined the benefits of certain antioxidants on the immune response of cats. The results of these studies indicated that antioxidants are important in helping cats maintain a healthy immune system.

The research also showed that each antioxidant benefits the immune system uniquely, so one antioxidant at high levels is not as effective as a group of antioxidants acting together.

Antioxidant Source Function
Vitamin E Plant oil extract, tocopherols Optimizes immune system’s T-cell activation
Beta-carotene Vitamin premix, corn meal, chicken by-product meal and chicken fat Optimizes types of cells present in the blood, increases antibody levels in the blood and optimizes vaccine recognition
Orange cat laying on its side while a hand scratches the top of its head.
 

Antioxidants and Aging in Cats

Recent research also examined the effect of aging on immune responses. The findings indicate that as cats age, immune cell responses may decline. Including antioxidants in your cat’s diet can help reverse the age-related decrease in immune cell function, returning it to healthy adult levels.