CATS already have nine lives – but with the help of Edinburgh University scientists they may be getting more mileage out of them.
Researchers at the university have discovered a link between levels of vitamin D and cat survival, showing that higher levels of the vitamin improve the survival chances of hospitalised cats.
After examining blood samples from 99 pet cats admitted to the University’s Small Animal Hospital with life threatening conditions, scientists found that the cats with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to be alive 30 days after admission.
Vitamin D is found in oily fish, cheese and egg yolks, with most cat foods containing an appropriate amount of the supplement.
It is hoped that the discovery will allow vets to more accurately predict the likely outcome of illness in animals.
The researchers have also suggested that the study may be useful in identifying the link between vitamin D and health problems which affect humans, including infections, multiple sclerosis (MS) and cancer.
Scotland has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, and there is thought to be a link between the debilitating condition and the darker northern climate.
Humans can take vitamin D supplements and even produce it in their skin after exposure to sunshine, although cats are only capable of taking it in through food.
Scientists hope that the discovery will lay the foundation trials using vitamin D supplements to treat human illness.