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3 Food Sources of Thiamine for Cats (Vitamin B1): Vet Reviewed Options

Vet approved

	Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We all want our cats to be healthy, happy, and with us for as long as possible. That’s why we take our cats to the vet for checkups, feed them high-quality, protein-filled food, and keep them indoors most of the time.

However, when cats are not fed enough vitamin B1, they can suffer from a thiamine deficiency (the lack of vitamin B1). There are a few foods that will help ensure your cat gets the thiamine it needs to be healthy and happy. We’ll discuss those and the signs of thiamine deficiency below.

|Important to Note:

“Vitamin B1 is an essential dietary nutrient, which means that cats must get enough of it in their diets to stay healthy. This vitamin is involved in many processes throughout your cat’s body. Cats require two to four times more thiamine per day than dogs. Feeding your cat a diet that is balanced and complete is key to their wellbeing.”

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Top 3 Food Sources of Thiamine for Cats

1. Whole Grains

Whole grains are a great source of thiamine for your feline pal. Of course, cats don’t require large portions of whole grains, but you can find them in many cat foods. Some of the most common grains you’ll see in pet food brands includes maize, brown rice, and oatmeal.

Although whole grains are a reliable source of thiamine, cats typically shouldn’t get more than 10% of their calories from carbohydrates.1 Therefore, it’s best to avoid carb-heavy cat treats and focus on meals and treats that are higher in meat-based proteins. Unless your veterinarian determines that your cat has a thiamine deficiency, your cat will likely get enough vitamin B1 from high-quality cat food.

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2. Pork/Beef/Fish

Pork, beef, and fish are excellent sources of thiamine for your kitty. Several cat food brands use these proteins in their formulations, and you should look for cat diets that list pork, beef, or fish as the first ingredient. Cats are obligate carnivores, so must eat a lot of protein to stay healthy.

If you feed beef, pork, or fish to your cat, make sure to cook it, especially fish. Raw and inadequately cooked fish-based diets pose a risk of thiamine deficiency for your cat. This happens because the raw flesh and viscera of certain fish and shellfish contain an enzyme (thiaminase) that destroys thiamine (Vitamin B1). As with anything else you cook and feed your cat, make sure to not put seasonings and spices such as salt, garlic, and onions in it. It’s best to feed your cat the cooked meat without any seasoning to prevent an upset stomach or toxic reaction to garlic and onions.

can cats eat pork
Image Credit: WiP-Studio, Shutterstock
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3. Legumes

There are a variety of legumes that can help with your cat’s thiamine levels as well. Legumes are often listed as ingredients in cat food, but if your cat consumes any of the legumes below, ensure they are cooked without seasonings. Your cat is unlikely to crave cooked beans, but if it takes a bite, ensure they’re prepared without garlic, salt, onions, or sugar. Thiamine levels are decreased when legumes are cooked, and it’s better to serve your pet cat food with thiamine because it’s formulated to include the proper amount.

  • Chickpeas
  • Green beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Peas
  • Soybeans
  • Pinto beans

The above are not the only sources of Vitamin B1. It can also be found in other foods like liver, eggs, brewer’s yeast, and asparagus.


Signs of Thiamine Deficiency in Cats

Now that you know which foods will ensure that your cat has enough thiamine to be healthy, we’ll list the signs of a thiamine deficiency below.

  • Ventroflexion: the cat’s neck is bending towards the floor or curling
  • Circling
  • Falling
  • Incoordination
  • Spastic or abnormal gait
  • Dilated pupils
  • Head is tilting
  • Opisthotonos: when the head, neck, and spine arch backward
  • Seizures
  • Stupor

If you see any of these signs in your cat, it’s imperative to get the cat to an emergency vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

How Is Thiamine Deficiency Treated?

Thiamine deficiency is treated with oral or injected medication if your cat is already showing neurological signs. However, providing adequate quantities of thiamine with a diet change is the treatment of choice for this condition. You can prevent the deficiency from happening by feeding your cat high-quality, protein-filled, balanced and complete cat food.

norwegian forest cat eating cat food from a bowl
Image Credit: Astrid Gast, Shutterstock

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Thiamine deficiency is a condition that affects cats and dogs. A lack of vitamin B1 causes severe health issues that could lead to death. If you see any signs of thiamine deficiency in your cat, rush your cat to the emergency clinic immediately. If caught in time, this deficiency can be treated, but it can be prevented by feeding your cat well-balanced cat food containing thiamine sources like the ones we discussed.

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Featured Image Credit: Twinsterphoto, Shutterstock