Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a progressive and usually fatal disease in which the heart muscle becomes weak, leading to an enlarged, poorly contracting heart. Recently, over 1100 dogs with diet-associated DCM have been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with most eating grain-free, high pulse (e.g., peas, lentils) diets. Unlike typical DCM, dogs with diet-associated DCM can improve with diet change, but the cause remains unknown. Most reported cases have been dogs, but some cats have been reported. Our recent retrospective study of 37 cats with DCM showed that 41% were eating high-pulse diets and that deficiency of the amino acid, taurine, was uncommon. More importantly, cats eating high-pulse diets that changed diets after diagnosis lived longer than cats eating high-pulse diets that did not change or cats eating low-pulse diets. This suggests that some cats may have diet-associated DCM that can improve with diet change even in the absence of taurine deficiency. This is a time-sensitive issue since many cat foods now contain pulses, potentially putting cats at risk for DCM or more subtle heart damage. The purpose of the proposed study is to evaluate heart size and function, blood biomarkers of heart injury, and taurine levels in healthy cats eating high- versus low-pulse diets. We hypothesize that cats eating high-pulse diets will have higher blood biomarkers, larger hearts, and lower heart contractility compared to cats eating low-pulse diets. This will help to determine whether cats are susceptible to diet-associated DCM.
(Sponsored in memory of “Bu”)