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Metabolic basis for the essential nature of fatty acids and the unique dietary fatty acid requirements of cats

John E. Bauer DMV, PhD, DACVN1
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  • 1 Comparative Nutrition Laboratory, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474.

Cats are unique among mammals with respect to metabolism of fatty acids. Except for some ruminants, all other mammals, including cats, are able to synthesize nonessential saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids de novo from glucose or amino acids via a common precursor, acetyl CoA. The products of this synthesis are 16- and 18-carbon saturated fatty acids that can subsequently be desaturated to monounsaturated fatty acids of the n-7 and n-9 fatty acid families (eg, 16:1n-7 and 18:1n-9). These acids are the result of the introduction of a single double bond between carbons Δ-9 and Δ-10 of the respective saturated acids.