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If you have noticed that your cat has digestion problems or is not interested in eating – it could be because it has a cobalamin deficiency. Cobalamin or Vitamin B12 is necessary for the body to process food and is ideally secreted by the pancreas. In most cats, B12 is a water soluble that is excreted in the urine but some cats tend to store it in their bodies under healthy circumstances. Animals that suffer from Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) and other gastrointestinal diseases often have this deficiency as the condition prevents them retaining nutrients from food.Causes of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) Deficiency
The most common cause of a Cobalamin deficiency is EPI. The condition is common in both cats and dogs and a majority of the animals with this condition have a cobalamin deficiency. Additionally, EPI also hinders the production of intrinsic factor (IF) by the pancreas. This substance is the one that allows for the absorption of nutrients from food. If deficiency is a big sign that the cat is suffering from other major pancreatic problems. B12 deficiency could also be the result of diabetes, hyperthyroidism and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). In cats, B12 deficiencies are also caused by kidney diseases, liver diseases and some forms of cancer treatments.Symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of the deficiency is weight loss and diarrhea. Pets that are diagnosed with EPI have a hard time gaining weight even after treatment. Additionally, cats with the condition are lethargic and confused as their body becomes weak. B12 also plays an important part in brain function and the lack of it will hinder the cat’s functionality. Cats that are not responding to typical EPI treatments are almost certain to have a B12 deficiency.Diagnosis and Treatment
B12 deficiencies are confirmed through blood tests. The vet looks at the count of red and white blood cells before diagnosis. If B12 deficiencies are not treated immediately, cats have a poor prognosis. Moreover, cats suffering from EPI cannot be cured through oral supplements as they cannot absorb the nutrients. In these cases, injections are the way to go. Otherwise, oral supplements will keep your cat healthy. Fresh meats and livers contain high amounts of B12 so a diet that consists of both is recommended for cats.In case of the injections, your cat will need weekly injections for weeks. The injections are administered long enough for the B12 levels to be adequate and until any secondary conditions to be cured. In cases of long term injections, your vet will teach you to administer them yourself. Signs of improvement like weight gain and normal eating will be observed once the treatment starts working.