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Thiamine Deficiency in Cats

Published: Friday, March 3, 2017

A recently launched cat food belonging to a nationwide retailer has had to be recalled because it is lacking in thiamine which is part of the Vitamin B complex.  Several cats have suffered from fits, sudden collapse, general twitching and unsteadiness, which according to the manufacturer are “not classic symptoms of thiamine deficiency”.  Not so according to my textbook which lists symptoms of thiamine deficiency in cats as muscle weakness, ataxia (unsteadiness), convulsions and heart damage. 

One of the best natural sources of thiamine and other B vitamins for cats is whole grains which as you may be aware is the mainstay of Burns foods.  B vitamins are de-natured by cooking so most pet foods are supplemented with B vitamins to overcome this. One website I looked at mentioned feeding meat-only diets as a possible cause of thiamine deficiency but I suspect that was cooked meat.

It’s also worth noting that thiamine can be destroyed by thiaminase, an enzyme found in raw fish and shellfish but which is itself destroyed by cooking.

All of this brings to mind the tale (tail?) of Pottenger’s cats.  Pottenger ran a feeding trial in the 1930s in which he fed two groups of cats, one on raw meat only and the other exclusively on cooked meat.  The ones on cooked meat became ill and failed to reproduce after three generations.  This study is often cited by raw food supporters as evidence that cooked food is damaging to the health of cats and therefore dogs.  Taurine had not been discovered at the time of the trial and it is thought that the cats suffered from taurine deficiency.  Perhaps they were deficient in thiamine too.

Unsure whether your cat is getting all the nutrients it needs? Give our team of expert nutritionists a call on Freephone number 0800 018 18 90 for complimentary advice.


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