Thiamine is an essential nutrient. It is necessary for carbohydrate metabolism, muscle construction and the conduction of nervous impulses through the nervous system. As very little thiamine is stored in the body of a cat, it is essential that there is a steady stream of this vitamin in the food that the cat eats. On this page I cover the signs of thiamine deficiency.
Thiamine deficiency can be a result of improper cat food processing and storage. Also cats fed on a diet of raw fish will end up with thiamine deficiency. Ultimately, a cat diet deficient in thiamine will result in the death of the cat and in the intermediate time there will be many nasty symptoms such as loss of coordination and twitching. These are progressive neurological symptoms. Apparently, a rigid head is the most common clinical sign that veterinarians see for this condition.
The cure for thiamine deficiency is simple: provide the cat with a diet that contains an adequate amount of thiamine.
In the study referred to, 90 cans of a variety of cat foods were analysed and according to the requirements of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 12 of the cans were below the minimum recommended allowance (13.3%). With respect to a slightly higher standard as recommended by the National Research Council 15.6% of the foods did not meet the requirement.
Apparently, pâté type foods have significantly lower thiamine levels than other wet cat foods. It appears that the major culprits were the smaller pet food manufacturing companies as their food had significantly lower thiamine levels than the larger companies.
Fish flavoured food or cat food with real fishing in it was not a problem. It would seem that the smaller companies may lack adequate quality controls. The actual companies have not been listed in the study.
The scientist who did the study recommend that veterinarians, “should consider thiamine deficiency in cats presenting with acute neurologic dysfunction, especially with accompanying gastrointestinal signs”.
The conclusion that we have to take from this study is that we cannot be sure that all canned cat food contains even the most basic of essential nutrients and sadly we do not know which specific ones do not, in the American market.
Note: I am currently unsure when this study was concluded although this is at the base of the source page: Mar 17 – Posted 23 hours ago by Winn Feline Foundation