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Thiamine Deficiency in Cats

Following a product recall by retailers recently, there has been a lot of talk about Thiamine deficiency on social media and in other press. We appreciate that this can be a worrying time for owners and want to make sure you have access to all the facts to ensure your feline friends are happy and healthy.

What is Thiamine deficiency?

Thiamine is also known as Vitamin B1. This water-soluble vitamin is necessary for normal carbohydrate metabolism in cats, and is present in all high quality, well balanced diets. Thiamine deficiency is, therefore, often closely linked to diet, and can occur as a results of prolonged loss of appetite, or from feeding a diet which has inadequate levels of the vitamin present (commonly due to preservation, storage or production methods). Thiamine deficiency can also be seen in cats fed on raw fish diets.



What are the symptoms?

Early signs of Thiamine deficiency are generally non-specific, and can include anorexia, lethargy, excess salivation or vomiting. Further development can include neurological signs (including incoordination, circling, head tilt or abnormal gait), rapid onset of impaired vision, dilated pupils, vestibular signs, and even tremors or seizure activity.

Diagnosis and treatment for cats

Diagnosis is based mainly on the presence of clinical signs, specific changes in the brain seen on MRI scans, rapid clinical improvement once Thiamine supplementation has been administered, or evidence that cats have been fed a Thiamine deficient diet. Prognosis for cats with suspected deficiency is excellent if the disease is treated early. Treatment of suspected Thiamine deficiency is with administration of injectable Thiamine, followed by transition to oral supplements for one month, alongside changing the diet to a different high quality commercial food.

What to do if you think your cat might have thiamine deficiency

If you have been feeding your cat the recalled diet and your cat is not showing any clinical signs, stop feeding the diet and switch to another good well balanced food. If your cat is showing clinical signs contact your vet immediately as early treatment is key.

It’s our policy not to comment on food recalls, but you can find more information on the RVC website here

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Andre Cilliers

Andre Cilliers

Andre Cilliers BVSc (Pretoria) GPCert(SAM) MRCVS I joined the practice in 2002 after qualifying for the University of Pretoria and became a partner in 2012. I hold a ESPV General Practice Medicine Certificate and have a keen interest in Feline Medicine. I work mostly between the Walnut Tree hospital and our Stoke Road branch, where I hold Cat Only Clinics on Tuesdays. I have three cats Bobbi, Marco and Ludi - possibly the best cats in the world.
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