Teratogenic effects of chronic ingestion of high levels of vitamin A in cats

T. L. Freytag, S. M. Liu, Quinton Rogers, James Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


High concentrations of retinoids occur in some commercial cat food formulations as a result of the use of animal liver as an ingredient. Our objective was to study the teratogenic potential of dietary vitamin A in cats. We investigated the incidence of birth defects in kittens of queens given diets with retinyl acetate concentrations of 6000, 306000, or 606000 retinol equivalents (RE)/kg diet (control, 306K, or 606K groups, respectively) for approximately 3 years [1 RE = 1 μg retinol = 3.3 International Units (IU)]. Each group comprised 12-15 age-matched, nulliparous domestic short-haired queens that were exposed to toms. There were a total of 396 kittens born in 97 litters. Pregnancy rate, number of kittens per gestation and gestations per year were not significantly different among treatment groups. A total of 2, 5 and 11 malformed kittens occurred in the control, 306K and 606K groups, respectively. Malformations included cleft palate, cranioschisis, foreshortened mandible, stenotic colon, enlarged heart and agenesis of the spinal cord and small intestine, which are typical foetal defects consistent with ingestion of excess retinoids in other species. This study demonstrated that a concentration of 306000 RE/kg diet has a potential for causing birth defects in the kittens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-51
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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