Cats have very different nutritional requirements to dogs. At Veterinary Nutrition Group, we have a particular interest in feline nutrition and in the formulation of palatable, therapeutic diets for cats. Here are some of the unique needs of cats, and some aspects of feline nutrition that we specialise in.
Cats require adequate taurine in their diet. Cats have been shown to conjugate bile acids into bile salts by the use of taurine, whereas many other species can use glycine for conjugation (when taurine concentrations are low). Cats also have a low rate of hepatic taurine synthesis. Taurine deficiency in cats can cause dilated cardiomyopathy and central retinal degeneration, so meeting the requirement for taurine is essential.
Arginine is an essential amino acid in the diet of cats, as they have a reduced ability to synthesize arginine precursors. Arginine provides a required intermediate in the urea cycle, and the lack of dietary arginine causes hyperammonaemia and hepatic encephalopathy.
Unlike dogs, cats cannot synthesise vitamin A (retinol) from beta-carotene, the plant-derived precursor of vitamin A. Thus, preformed retinol must be provided in the diet of cats.
Research has demonstrated that cats synthesise very limited amounts of arachidonic acid from the omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, because cats have low amounts of the hepatic enzyme delta-6 desaturase. It is therefore important that feline diets contain a source of arachidonic acid.
Cats cannot synthesise sufficient niacin
from tryptophan because the intermediate metabolite is readily degraded.
We specialise in formulation of the following:
Highly palatable renal diets for cats with kidney disease
Novel protein diets for cats with inflammatory bowel disease
Management of urolithiasis and feline idiopathic cystitis
Weight management plans for overweight or obese cats
Complete and balanced diets for healthy growing kittens
Critical care nutrition for cats with cancer or other chronic diseases
Appropriate maintenance or therapeutic diets for exotic pet cats or hybrids (for example, Bengals, Savannah cats, Servals, and Caracals)
Appropriate maintenance or therapeutic diets for large and small wild cats in captivity (accredited zoos and conservation facilities only)