Thiamine deficiency in cats can cause a loss of appetite, severe aggression, as well as a loss of your cat’s reflexes.
If it is severe enough, it can also cause the loss of nerve control that can very easily take their life if it is not identified and correctly very rapidly.
It is a problem worldwide and can affect your cat if you feed them commercial cat food as well as if you feed them raw diets without the proper precautions and making sure this diet is well balanced.
In fully understanding thiamine deficiency in cats, it is very helpful for an owner to fully understand what thiamine is, how it reacts, as well as what can destroy it.
Thiamine, also referred to as Thiamin or Vitamin B1, is a water soluble vitamin that has several natural sources.
They include brewer’s yeast, beef, pork, milk, nuts, whole grains, as well as enriched flour and cereals.
The major function of this vitamin in your cat is with the metabolism of their carbohydrates.
It also helps to maintain normal growth as well as transmitting nerve impulses throughout your cat’s body.
However, it also has another extremely important function in your cat; acetylcholine synthesis.
Acetylcholine is a chemical compound found in your cat that is a neurotransmitter in both their peripheral as well as central nervous systems,.
If it is disrupted because of a lack of thiamine, it can lead to an extremely dangerous set of conditions.
Thiamine, like any type of water soluble vitamin, is not stored in your cats body.
Because of this, it can easily be depleted in several ways as well as what does exist can be destroyed by what you are feeding your cat.
As a result of these combined factors, it is critical that your cat receives the adequate supply of this critical vitamin.
The first way that thiamine can be destroyed is if you cook anything that has this vitamin in water, as water will almost totally eliminate any of this nutrient.
For this reason, if you do feed your cat a raw diet and cook using water, use as little as you possibly can. Heat also destroys this vitamin, and can and does lead to thiamine deficiency in cats.
Pet manufactures are not always as detailed as they should be when controlling processed food, especially the cheaper brands.
In fact, as recently as a year ago, the FDA released information that two very popular cat foods were voluntarily recalled because of a widespread outbreak of thiamine deficiency in cats in the United States.
The brands involved included Diamond Pet Foods Premium Edge Finicky Adult Cat Food and Premium Edge Hairball Cat Food.
However, there are still other dangers that can produce this deficiency, and perhaps the largest deals with raw diets.
Cats by their very nature love raw fish, but if you feed your cat large amounts of raw fish without balancing properly with thiamine, you are placing them in severe danger.
Herring, smelt, and catfish are especially dangerous as they contain an excessive amount of thiaminase, which is an enzyme that virtually destroys thiamine very rapidly.
However, if you cook these fish, it will destroy the thiaminase, and as a result, it protects the thiamine in their body.
This is by no means an indictment against raw diets as they have several wonderful benefits for cats, but too much raw fish can and is extremely dangerous.
The other major killer of thiamine is from Sulfur Dioxide, which is a preservative found in some brands of commercial cat food.
This preservative also inactivates and destroys thiamine, and if you feed your cat commercial food you will need to look for this ingredient.
If the ingredient is used, you may need to supplement thiamine in your cat’s diet just to be one the safe side.
Thiamine deficiency in cats will show you some very distinctive symptoms and the very first one to watch for is your cats head bending down toward the ground.
This is the early warning sign that your cat is developing a ventroflexion of their neck, and it will lead to several other symptoms that will surface very rapidly.
The first of these signs will a very sudden rigid neck as well as the inability of your cat to fully raise their head.
If your cat out of now where is starting to rest their chin on or very near their chest, they have thiamine deficiency.
However, this is just the beginning of the symptoms of thiamine deficiency in cats.
You may also see dilated or fixed pupils in your cat as well as a condition referred to as ataxia, which is a wobbling by your cat when they try to walk.
If you do see dilated pupils, test your cat’s eyes very quickly.
If they cannot move their eyes, what is happening is that the muscles around the eyes are starting to become paralyzed as their nervous system is malfunctioning because of the lack of thiamine.
Your cat may also start to salivate, but this will be much more than a minor salivation they may show when they smell something.
This will be excessive to the point that they are drooling, and it is now an emergency situation.
If the thiamine deficiency in cats is not treated very quickly at this point, your cat can become extremely aggressive as they know something is wrong as they are losing control of all of their nerves.
It is in this stage that you will see the last of the major symptoms; seizures.
If your cat does go into a seizure and they have lost total control of both of their major nervous systems, your cat may pass right before your eyes.
Thiamine deficiency in cats has one very simple and extremely effective treatment; thiamine.
However, there is one factor that is very important with this condition; have your cat examined as quickly as possible and then follow your professional’s directions on the amounts that should be given.
Thiamine is a water soluble vitamin and as such, it is virtually impossible for it to ever reach overdose conditions as your cat’s body does not store it like fat soluble vitamins.
However, there have been reported cases where some cats are hypersensitive to it, but this is extremely rare and there is very little documentation that supports any kind of serious reaction.
Thiamine is available in 20, 50, 100, as well as 250 mg tablets. It is also available in an oral power as well as an injectable form.
If the deficiency is considered to be extreme, your veterinarian may have to use the injectable form to stabilize your cat.
Thiamine is also readily available in several different B-complex vitamin supplements.
The normal dosage of thiamine for a cat is 1 to 2 mg/kg for every pound of body weight which is very safe to give any cat under any normal circumstances.
This is especially true if you do feed them a raw diet that contains fish.
However, if your cat does develop a deficiency and you have not given them preventative and daily thiamine supplements; do not do anything on your own.
You will need to let a professional guide the treatments until your cat has been stabilized.
Thiamine deficiency in cats is a real and growing threat worldwide with the popularity of raw diets.
The problem is not with raw diets unless too much raw fish is given.
It can very easily be controlled by limiting the amount of fish and giving you cats the basic amounts of recommended thiamine supplements on a daily basis.
Commercial food is also a concern, but the daily supplements should also control any problems in this diet.