Optimizing the pattern of essential amino acids as the sole source of dietary nitrogen supports near-maximal growth in kittens

Timothy P. Taylor, James Morris, Neil H. Willits, Quinton Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Most experiments conducted to determine the optimal essential amino acid (EAA) nitrogen to total nitrogen (E:T) ratio in rats, chicks and other species have shown that weight gain and nitrogen retention are optimal when the ratio is between 0.5 and 0.65. Two experiments were conducted to determine if weight gains of kittens fed EAA as a sole source of dietary nitrogen were equivalent to those of kittens fed a control diet that contained equal amounts of EAA and dispensable amino acids (DAA). In the first experiment, kittens fed diets that contained only EAA lost weight. Amino acid analysis of plasma showed that the concentration of methionine was 9.1 times that of controls, supporting the premise that the weight loss that occurred was the result of an adverse effect of excess methionine. Also, plasma threonine and arginine were elevated whereas proline and asparagine were very low. In the second experiment, feeding lower concentrations of methionine and arginine in a diet containing only EAA resulted in weight gains and nitrogen retention that were not significantly different from results for kittens fed the control diet (E:T ratio = 0.5). The addition of proline and asparagine to this EAA diet or their removal from the control diet did not improve or reduce weight gain or nitrogen retention. It is concluded that the decreased weight gain found in kittens (and probably other species) fed only EAA is the result of an adverse effect of excesses of methionine and possibly other EAA, and not the inability to synthesize DAA. If excesses of certain EAA are avoided, near-maximal weight gain can be achieved without any DAA in the diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2243-2252
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996


  • dispensable amino acids
  • essential amino acids
  • feline
  • kittens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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