Your faithful companion needs certain nutrients in her diet -- lysine being one of them. Lysine is an amino acid that is vital to her health. Quality cat foods should have all of the lysine your feline needs, giving you one less thing to worry about.
What is It?
Amino acids are building blocks of everything in your kitty’s body. They stack on top of each other to form tissues and organs and are also vital to her brain function. Some amino acids are essential, including lysine, taurine and leucine, while others are nonessential. Essential amino acids must be supplied by the food you feed Sheba because her body cannot make them. Nonessential amino acids, like glutamine and glycine, are sometimes included in food, but they don’t have to be. Her body can make these types of amino acids as needed.
Why It’s Important
Without adequate lysine in your purring pal’s food, she can have all kinds of health issues. This probably isn’t a concern for packaged food, but if you make her food at home, it may not have the lysine she needs. As a kitten she can have developmental issues and possibly stunted growth. If she continues get inadequate lysine as an adult, her brain and organs might not be able to function. She’ll be more prone to several health problems, such as kidney stones, extreme weight loss and infections, just to name a few.
Amount in Food
The nutrition facts on your companion’s favorite food sometimes clearly list exactly how much lysine is in the food, although it isn’t required to be on the label. Pet food manufacturers have certain nutritional guidelines they have to follow. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, kitten food and diets designed for nursing felines must have a minimum of 1.20 percent lysine, based on dry matter. Regular adult food needs to provide a minimum of 0.83 percent lysine, based on dry matter. Even if you don’t see lysine listed on the label, it should be in there in adequate amounts. If you’re concerned, call the customer service number on the bag and ask them to provide you with a complete nutritional breakdown of the food.
You can add lysine supplements to Sheba’s food to help her with certain infections, although you never want to give your kitty supplements without discussing with your vet first. In cases of conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye, lysine supplements can help treat the herpes infection, speeding up your companion’s recovery. Lysine supplements are also sometimes beneficial for helping furballs get over upper respiratory tract infections and kitty flu. Even though lysine is safe for cats, some supplements contain harmful preservatives. For example, one ingredient called propylene glycol, perfectly safe for humans, causes bad reactions and blood problems in felines. Check with your vet to make sure the supplement you choose is safe for your four-legged family member.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.