To determine the effectiveness of dietary lysine supplementation in cats with enzootic upper respiratory disease (URD), 50 cats were fed a ration containing 11 or 51 g lysine/kg diet for 52 days. Food intake, body weight, clinical signs, plasma amino acid concentrations and presence of Chlamydophila felis or feline herpesvirus (FHV)-1 DNA within the conjunctival fornix were assessed. Food and lysine intake of both dietary groups decreased between days 17 and 22, coinciding with peak disease and viral presence. Mean disease score for cats fed the supplemented ration (0.94) was higher than for those fed the basal diet (0.21); however, this could be attributed to a small subset of male cats which demonstrated fighting behavior that may have contributed to stress within that cage. FHV-1 DNA was detected on 12 occasions in six cats receiving the supplemented diet and on one occasion in one cat fed the basal diet. C felis DNA was never detected. Mean plasma arginine concentration was lower and plasma lysine concentration was higher in supplemented cats. Mean plasma arginine concentration declined throughout the study in both dietary groups. Data from the present study raise important questions but do not permit a definitive conclusion regarding the efficacy of dietary lysine supplementation in cats with enzootic URD.
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