Saturday 23 February 2008

Bengal Cat and Taurine

Bengal cats need taurine more than other domestic cats - is this true? That is what some say. This posting is not meant to be factual. It is more anecdotal and it is meant to raise a query, some questions if you like to which answers can be sought. In a recent article posted on the internet doctors treated an Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) kept at a zoo. 

Glorious Bengal cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.

The cat had a serious heart condition (disease) called DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). DCM is different from HCM (another, similar heart disease). In DCM the heart muscles become stretched/dilated and in HCM they thicken. In both cases the heart becomes less efficient causing a range of conditions and symptoms. 

The treatment was to give the ALC a taurine supplement in the diet and drugs to help the heart beat stonger and to dilate the blood vessels. Taurine is an essential nutrient for domestic cats and an amino acid. The ALC's broken heart was mended - success. The ALC is the wild ancestor to the Bengal cat. The Bengal cat can suffer from HCM as mentioned above. It is argued that the ALC needs three times the normal dose of Taurine supplement of a domestic cat (1500 mg/kg daily) to maintain health (the domestic cat requiring 500 mg/kg?). 

However, it seems that commercial cat food has, in fact, 1000mg/kg of taurine in it (in dry products). The pet food manufacturers argue that is is better to put in too much (supporting the view that too much is not bad for the cat). The argument goes that as the ALC requires more than the usual amount of taurine and taurine helps maintain a healthy heart it may be the case that the number of Bengal cats suffering from heart disease, albeit HCM and not DCM, can be reduced by giving more Taurine supplement than is currently being given. 

The counter argument is that studies have not established a link between diet and HCM. Breeders often feed their cats raw food, hand prepared, with supplements. So the idea of adding more Taurine sounds useful. It is possible though to make a cat ill if given too much Taurine. So, what is the exact correct dose? It gets more complicated as sometimes breeders will give their cats manufactured food as well. 

This contains taurine usually, confusing the amount given. I said this article would raise questions :). In conclusion the question is, "can an increase in taurine supplement, or the correct amount of taurine supplement (whatever that is), reduce the incidence of HCM in Bengal cats?" Comments gratefully received. 

Here is another post on the subject of Bengal cats and Taurine and heart disease generally. 


  1. because so many bengal owners feed handmade diets, there's probably going to be an increase in the rate of DCM found in the breed. but too little taurine won't cause hcm. too little taurine can cause lots of other health problems, but not hcm.
    that picture of the marble bengal is beautiful. do you know who the cat is? helmi flick is a great photographer and that's a beautiful cat.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I'll ask Helmi if she can remember. I have seen a mass of cat photographs and Helmi is the best cat photographer worldwide for me.

  3. Message to the person who wanted to know the name of the cat illustrating this post, here is your answer:

    "The Bengal's name is Lucky Strike. Photographed at the big cat show in Germany in 2006." - the words of Helmi Flick....

  4. thanks for tracking down that cat. Helmi's pictures are always great and that's a gorgeous cat.


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