A recent study by the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine determined that 14 out of 90 canned cat foods were below the National Research Council’s recommend amount of Thiamine (Vitamin B1). The study looked at one fish and one non-fish flavor of 45 cat food brands. The results concluded that a significant amount of brands tested were below the daily recommended quantity. Pate foods (mixed meats in a smooth texture) tended to be more likely to have lower levels of vitamin B1 than non-pate brands. Additionally, smaller brand companies also contained lower amounts of vitamin B1 in cat foods tested. There was virtually no distinct difference in fish vs. non-fish flavors. The country of the manufacturer was also not a factor in thiamine levels.
What is Thiamine?
Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1, is a b complex water-soluble vitamin. It is considered an essential nutrient. B1 is found in a wide variety of foods, including liver, legumes, yeast and several vegetables and grains. Cats naturally obtain thiamine through red meats. For house cats, pet foods typically follow guidelines recommended by experts. The NRC recommends an allowance of 1.4 mg of thiamine/1,000 calories (kcal). Thiamine, like all B vitamins, helps the body convert carbohydrates into glucose. It also helps boost the immune system and lowers stress levels. Thiamine deficiency side effects include: digestive problems, loss of appetite and even has been linked to diabetes. Thiamine deficiency in cats is common in raw fish heavy diets. This makes the findings that there was no difference between fish and non-fish foods interesting.
Cat Foods with Thiamine
Despite the study, virtually all cat foods contain some thiamine. However, because grains and yeast are the most common ingredients that contain it, it typically must be added. One common way B1 is added is by adding thiamine mononitrate. Look on the label for this ingredient. It can also be added using liver as an ingredient. However, cooking meat tends to burn out the thiamine.