Cats & Thiamine

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Cats Need Thiamine

cat imageDon't make your favorite feline mad like this beautiful blue-eyed persian by not feeding them right.

Yet, another pet food recall brings information about the dietary requirements of cats that anyone making their own cat food should consider.

Most pet food recalls seem to be due to too much of something or something like solmonella that shouldn't be there in the first place.

A recent recall of cat food has provided something of an educational opportunity for anyone who is making their own cat food. This time, the food recall was due to too little of a vital ingredient - thiamine, a B vitamin.

Thiamine Deficiency in Cats

Without enough thiamine, cats suffer from decreased appetite, excess salivation and vomiting which leads to weight loss. Advanced thiamine deficiency will lead to a variety of neurologic symptoms much like those experienced when a human suffers a stroke along with the inability to raise their head or ventroflexion of the neck. Left untreated, thiamine deficiency will lead to the death of your cat.

The good news is that with an improved diet and proper treatment thiamine deficiency in cats can be treated.

Thiamine Sources

Thiamine, according to Wikipedia can degrade. A chemical reaction occurs when thaimine comes into contact with sulfites which are often used as food preservatives. Chemicals present in raw fish and shellfish also degrade the benefits of thiamine. Diets high in sulfate can lead to the thiamine also degrading.

If you are making your own cat food from the recipes on No Cans, you will have to ensure that your favorite feline ingests enough thiamine to avoid having problems. The good news is that there are quite a few foods that contain thiamine. The bad news is that it would seem opinions differ somewhat on what the minimum daily requirement of thiamine truly is but most agree it is a vital part of a cat's dietary needs.

The foods with the most thiamine are yeast and pork. The article did not mention if the yeast, when baked loses any of the thiamine benefits. While raw yeast is a definite no-no for cats, pork, cereal grains, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, flax, sunflower seeds, brown rice, whole grain rye, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, liver (beef, port and chicken) and eggs are all foods rich in thiamine. Do keep in mind that cats should be not be fed more than 5g of liver daily and smoked pork (too salty) or fatty pork should be avoided. While I haven't found it mentioned specifically anywhere as something to avoid, I would also think twice about using kale as it is so similar to spinach which can lead to severe urinary tract problems.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, thiamine deficiency is rare and is most commonly linked to diets high in raw fish and shellfish.

Dogs Need Thiamine Too

Thiamine Deficiency in Dogs

Dogs also require thiamine to be present in their diet and will suffer very similar symptoms if they are deficient. Thiamine deficiency in dogs is caused by the over consumption of sulfites. Common culprets are raw fish and meats (in large quantities) and some dried fruits as well as preservatives in some commercial dog foods. A good way to ensure a dog does not suffer from thiamine deficiency is to add brewer's yeast, brown rice, whole wheat, peas, liver, potatoes, eggs and port to their diet.


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Cat picture provided by sxc.hu member ilco, more of his work can be found in his gallery - photos by ilco.

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