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Nutrients. 2013 Jul 19;5(7):2811-35. doi: 10.3390/nu5072811.

Peculiarities of one-carbon metabolism in the strict carnivorous cat and the role in feline hepatic lipidosis.

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Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.


Research in various species has indicated that diets deficient in labile methyl groups (methionine, choline, betaine, folate) produce fatty liver and links to steatosis and metabolic syndrome, but also provides evidence of the importance of labile methyl group balance to maintain normal liver function. Cats, being obligate carnivores, rely on nutrients in animal tissues and have, due to evolutionary pressure, developed several physiological and metabolic adaptations, including a number of peculiarities in protein and fat metabolism. This has led to specific and unique nutritional requirements. Adult cats require more dietary protein than omnivorous species, maintain a consistently high rate of protein oxidation and gluconeogenesis and are unable to adapt to reduced protein intake. Furthermore, cats have a higher requirement for essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. Hastened use coupled with an inability to conserve certain amino acids, including methionine, cysteine, taurine and arginine, necessitates a higher dietary intake for cats compared to most other species. Cats also seemingly require higher amounts of several B-vitamins compared to other species and are predisposed to depletion during prolonged inappetance. This carnivorous uniqueness makes cats more susceptible to hepatic lipidosis.

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