The Need for a Calcium Balanced Diet in Cats

Posted on October 12th, 2012

By Alfred J. Plechner, D.V.M.

Whether large or small or domestic or wild, felines need a balanced diet including proper amounts of calcium to avoid developing thin bones with the possibility of pathological fractures.

My research over the years has proven to me that that ratio of calcium to phosphorus is vital in a feline and all animals including ourselves to maintain a healthy skeletal system and avoid unnecessary incidental fractures due to a calcium phosphorus imbalance causing thin bones.

It had been realized a number of years ago, that the Zoo fed felines given meat only without bones and skin developed thin bones that after jumping from a small height would fracture their front legs.

In the wilds this did not happen because the wild felines ate most of their prey including bones and skin which contained calcium and the meat only which contained one part calcium to 20 parts of phosphorus.

If only meat is given or eaten, the body of the feline tries to keep a 1 to1 or 1 to 2 ratios between calcium and phosphorus.

As the feline ingests the total meat diet, the body absorbs the abnormal ratio of calcium to phosphorus and in trying to keep the proper ratio, the body removes calcium from the bones causing the thinning of the bones and a weakening of the bones that lead to the incidental fractures referred to as pathological fractures.

This abnormal ratio causes the parathyroid gland to release its hormone in turn which causes this calcium bone depletion.

As many of you already know, I have spent almost 50 years studying the hormone effects on people and animals and loss of regulation of the immune system.

I would like to share with you my senior research project at the University of Davis school of Veterinary Medicine in early 1966.

My senior paper at UC Davis was to reveal what the veterinary academics called osteogenesis imperfecta was definitely a completely different disease in animals.

My senior project found me working with a young mountain lion in Oakland, California.

He was a 4 month old, male named, Tigger.

Whenever he jumped off, even a low chair or mattress, he would fracture the bones in his front legs referred to as pathological fractures.

This was due to the fact that the cortices of his long bones were tissue thin, along with all the other bones in his body.

It was the general opinion that he was suffering from, osteogenesis imperfecta which, in humans, is a genetic disorder that leads to the same kind of pathological fractures as seen in Tigger.

However, after analyzing Tigger's diet, I found he was being fed only meat which has 20 parts of phosphorus to 1 part calcium.

He definitely did not have osteogenesis imperfecta, but rather a serious nutritional imbalance.

Every day, as Tigger ingested his 'total meat diet', the 20 to 1 ration of phosphorus to calcium was his true nemesis.

His body needed to keep a 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 ratio between phosphorus and calcium.

To do so, his body was forced to remove calcium from his bones, because of the excess release of parathyroid hormone (PTH), to create this normal ratio. In doing so, his bones became very weak and fractured on their own.

Upon realizing this, I had the pet owner add calcium and bones to his diet and in the weeks that followed, the re-calcification of his skeletal system did occur.

As he felt better, upon my petting him he would purr and it sounded like a motor boat.

What a wonderful, lovely animal that definitely needed better.

Just to see the look in his eyes now, seemed to justify all his pain and suffering that was now over.

And you know what, he knew it.

My paper detailed how his disorder was not, in fact, ostoegenesis imperfecta but rather a nutritional hyperparathyroidism.

A few years later it was realized that all the big cats in the zoos and other captive sites also needed to be fed bones with their meat to avoid similar problems.

I am pleased with the fact that, after I created my first commercial non-meat, balanced food product for dogs and cats with calcium and phosphorus, it too was adopted for use in zoos and was called Zoopreme.

It is interesting from my prospective, that I was apparently impressed with hormones while I was still in school and outside of making a huge difference hormonally for my Mother with her breast cancer while I was at UC Davis, this was my first venture into the world of hormone misunderstanding.

These are only some of my thoughts.

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