The Cat that Lost Its Bark

By December 1, 2015 Cool Cases

Felix lived with dogs. He played like a dog, he would come when called, and he would fetch. The owners thought he thought he was a dog. As a kitten they offered bowls full of various cat foods, but Felix would eat the dog’s food instead. Eventually they gave up trying.

Felix came to the Bracebridge Animal Hospital as an emergency over the Christmas holidays. He was having breathing difficulty. A complete physical examination, and work-up including blood testing, urine testing, and xrays revealed that he suffered from a rare form of feline heart failure called dilated cardiomyopathy.

Dilated cardiomyopathy can be caused by an improperly balanced diet, specifically, a deficiency of the amino acid Taurine. Inadequate dietary Taurine intake can cause enlargement and weakening of the heart muscle, as well as blindness, poor growth and decreased reproductive performance. Taurine insufficiency has become an uncommon finding in cats since the development of high quality commercial based cat foods. Taurine is found naturally in foods containing high quality animal-based protein, and is commonly added to foods that are low in animal-based proteins. Ingredient labels will list Taurine if it has been added as a supplement during the manufacturing process, not in diets where it is found naturally. The best way to ensure your cat is receiving a nutritionally balanced diet is to ask your veterinarian to recommend a food suitable for your pet, taking into account age, breed, activity level and any illnesses.

Felix’s diet of dog food did not provide adequate levels of Taurine for sustenance of a cat. Although the condition can be gradually corrected with Taurine supplementation, unfortunately Felix’s heart disease had progressed too far. The owners had to have him euthanized.

Please come talk to us regarding your pet’s nutrition.

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