Objective—To determine the effects of carnitine (Ca)
or taurine (Ta) supplementation on prevention of lipid
accumulation in the liver of cats.
Animals—24 adult cats.
Procedure—Cats were fed a weight-gaining diet sufficient
in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), low in
long-chain n-3 PUFAs (n-3 LPUFA), and containing corn
gluten for 20 weeks. Cats gained at least 30% in body
weight and were assigned to 4 weight-reduction diets
(6 cats/diet) for 7 to 10 weeks (control diet, control
plus Ca, control plus Ta, and control plus Ca and Ta).
Results—Hepatic lipids accumulated significantly
during weight gain and weight loss but were not
altered by Ca or Ta after weight loss. Carnitine significantly
increased n-3 and n-6 LPUFAs in hepatic triglycerides,
decreased incorporation of 13C palmitate into
very-low-density lipoprotein and hepatic triglycerides,
and increased plasma ketone bodies. Carnitine also
significantly increased weight loss but without altering
the fat to lean body mass ratio. Taurine did not
significantly affect any variables. Diets low in n-3
LPUFAs predisposed cats to hepatic lipidosis during
weight gain, which was further exacerbated during
weight loss. Mitochondrial numbers decreased during
weight gain and weight loss but were not affected by
treatment. Carnitine improved fatty acid oxidation and
glucose utilization during weight loss without correcting
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The primary
mechanism leading to hepatic lipidosis in cats
appears to be decreased fatty acid oxidation.
Carnitine may improve fatty acid oxidation but will not
ameliorate hepatic lipidosis in cats fed a diet low in
n-3 fatty acids. (Am J Vet Res 2003;64:1265–1277)