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J Nutr Sci. 2014 Dec 30;3:e62. doi: 10.1017/jns.2014.59. eCollection 2014.

Fat digestibility is reduced in old cats with subnormal cobalamin concentrations.

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R&D Department , Affinity Petcare , 08174 , Sant Cugat del Vallès , Barcelona , Spain.
Doc's Veterinary Clinic , 08338 Premià , Barcelona , Spain.
Animal Medicine and Surgery Department , Veterinary School, Campus of Excelence Mare Nostrum, University of Murcia , 30100 Espinardo , Murcia , Spain.


Fat digestibility is decreased in old cats for unknown reasons. Subclinical gastrointestinal diseases and pancreatic dysfunction, both related to ageing, can affect food digestibility. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the prevalence of subnormal cobalamin concentration and pancreatic disease in old cats and study the relationship between both markers and fat digestibility. A total of sixty-four cats without evident signs of gastrointestinal disease were included and grouped according to age: (1) fifteen middle-aged (MA), aged 3-7 years; and (2) forty-nine old, aged 10-17 years. All cats were tested for serum cobalamin, specific feline pancreatic lipase (fPL) and feline trypsin-like immunoreactivity. Then, sixteen of the old cats were selected and grouped according to cobalamin and fPL concentrations: control (normal cobalamin and fPL); low vitamin B12 (cobalamin <290 ng/l; normal fPL); and high fPL (normal cobalamin; fPL >4 µg/ml). A food digestibility trial with a high-fat diet (21·6 %) was performed. In the old group, cobalamin was lower and fPL higher than in MA cats. Of the old cats (n 49), 14 % had subnormal cobalamin, 8 % had a severe increase in fPL, 2 % had both alterations and 14 % had a slight increase in fPL. By contrast, MA cats did not have cobalamin deficiency or an increase in fPL concentrations. Fat digestibility was lower in low vitamin B12 cats than control cats. Decreased fat digestibility is not present in all old cats but could be a characteristic of subclinical chronic gastrointestinal disease. Cobalamin concentration, as a marker of gastrointestinal disease, could be useful for the routine evaluation of old cats.


Ageing; Cobalamin; Digestibility; Feline nutrition; IBD, inflammatory bowel disease; MA, middle-aged; fPL, feline pancreatic lipase

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