Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Building Immunity in Cats

Jul 30, 2021 12:22PM ● By Linda T. Stern

Everything presented to a cat’s body effects the immune system. It is the body’s defense to keep it protected and to help it detox from chemicals that do not belong in the body, including artificial coloring and preservatives in food. The nutrients in food are building blocks for the defense system, and some contribute more than others. Vitamin D and Omega-3 are some examples. Many foods either have deficiency of vitamin D or excess, and supplementation without testing these levels can be toxic. Many cancer patients have a deficiency of vitamin D.


Omega-3 helps support skin health, joints and is an antioxidant. Free radicals will challenge the immune system, whereas antioxidants help neutralize them, as well as other nutrients. Preservatives, artificial additives, poor-quality ingredients and over-processed foods are not contributing to cats’ nutrient needs and make their immune systems weaker, leading to many ailments.


Less processed food ingredients and nutrients from natural sources are best for extracting quality nourishment. If raw is a choice for some, then make to get it from quality sources and handle it appropriately, or the cat may become deathly ill from contamination and bacteria. Raw is the least processed, but can be the most dangerous if not done correctly. The next least processed is freeze dried raw, available commercially and home cooked. A balanced diet is the key, and if we do not have an understanding of how to do that properly when making homemade diets then it should be left for the experts.


Cats eat for taste and consistency, so this may influence the form of food chosen for them. Many highly processed foods with artificial flavoring and preservatives are addictive to our feline friends. It takes a lot of work to then convert them to a healthy food. “You are what you eat” is a true statement.


If the immune system is not healthy and challenged with infectious agents, then it increases the risk cats will not be able to fight off the challenge. Adding chemicals for flea and tick control, excessive vaccinations (especially at one time) will all weaken the cat’s defense system. Stress is also a major challenge to the immune system.


There are less-toxic approaches to fend off fleas and ticks. Amber collars will create a static charge and repel them. Diatomaceous earth desiccates them. Vaccine titers are available to avoid unnecessary vaccinations and fecal tests check for intestinal parasites which can add to the health challenges of the cat. Blood work makes sure no other organ system concerns are a factor that also can weaken the immune system. Reduce the stressors if possible. Natural, safe products are available to help with stress and boost the immune system.


If the cat does get sick, there are many natural ways to support the immune system with its defenses. Colloidal silver is a reliable source that helps as an antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agent. Both American and Chinese herbal combinations and homeopathy are available, preferably from a professional resource. Many over-the-counter products are not safe or not what they are purported to be because they are not regulated, and so definitely not recommended. The best option is to contact a veterinarian for recommendations, especially an integrative veterinarian that is knowledgeable in natural options and food.


In general, quality food/nutrition, minimal chemicals/vaccinations and minimal stress supports a healthy immune system. If there is a challenge, adding additional supplements herbal products and nutraceuticals are beneficial and hopefully can avoid using drugs that can alo harm the immune system.


Linda T. Stern, DVM, MS, CVA, is the owner of Healing Creatures Animal Hospital, located at 3300 Hartzdale Dr., Ste. 108, in Camp Hill. For more information, call 717-730-3755 or visit