Arginine for Cats

When it comes to the things that your cat needs in order to lead a happy and healthy life, arginine is a very important part of her diet.

Defining Arginine

Arginine is an amino acid; these are considered to be the building blocks of proteins. For cats, the only way to produce the important protein ornithine is to form it from arginine. Ornithine is important because it works to lock up ammonia that comes from the breakdown of proteins.

Arginine Deficiencies

When your cat has too little arginine in her system, it means that there is not enough for her to produce ornithine. This means that your cat cannot produce what is necessary to prevent the ammonia in her body from wreaking havoc. It is a very serious condition that could easily become life-threatening if it is not caught and treated soon enough.


When the arginine has reached unhealthy lows, it will create symptoms in your feline that can include:

  • Drooling. This is considered to be the first symptom. It is not normal salivating, but extreme and sudden drooling.
  • Vocalization. All cats make noises. Some cats make more noises than others. The vocalization in this instance is something that is not normal and should instantly be recognized as something wrong. It will sound like your cat is in a lot of pain. Many cats in pain will be sure to vocalize directly to their owners to try and give the hint something is wrong.
  • Ataxia. In serious cases, ataxia will form. This is when your cat starts to lose control of her body. She will not be able to coordinate her motor function, her speech control, her eye movements or her posture. You may notice her falling over or slipping and running into things.

Other Problems

There are other problems that an arginine deficiency can cause in your feline. The biggest one is hyperammonemia, which is a metabolic disturbance. This is when your cat has too much ammonia in her blood. It is very serious, as it can lead to several types of brain diseases. The symptoms for hyperammonemia include:

If your cat displays any symptoms of a deficiency, it is vital that you take her in to see a veterinarian as soon as possible, before the situation becomes life-threatening.


Now that you know how severe a lack of arginine for your feline can be, it's time to think about how to make certain that your cat is getting enough to keep her happy and healthy. There are many dry cat foods that contain the necessary arginine, but there are also other foods that can be considered if your cat is on a raw food diet, such as:

  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Milk
  • Dairy products
  • Peas
  • Seafood

As always, it is important to check with your veterinarian before you make any changes to your pet's diet and to make sure that you gradually make the change.