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Investigation of the association between whole blood and tissue taurine levels and the development of thoracic deformities in neonatal Burmese kittens
  1. C. P. Sturgess, MA, VetMB, PhD, CertVR, MRCVS1,1,
  2. L. Waters, BVetMed,MRCVS1,2,
  3. T. J. Gruffydd-Jones, BVetMed, PhD, MRCVS1,
  4. H. M. R. Nott, BSc, PhD2 and
  5. K. E. Earle, BSc, PhD2
  1. 1 The Feline Centre, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS18 7DU
  2. 2 The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Freeby Lane, Waltham-on-the-Wolds, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE14 4RT


Flat chests, characterised by a dorsoventral flattening of the rib cage, affect 3 to 4 per cent of all Burmese kittens born in the United Kingdom. Similar deformities have been reported in kittens born to taurine-depleted queens. In an investigation of whether there might be a relationship between whole blood taurine levels and the appearance of flat chests it was found that Burmese kittens had significantly (P<0.05) higher whole blood taurine levels than Burmese queens. In addition, flatchested Burmese kittens had higher mean (sd) levels (789 [189] μmol/litre) than unaffected Burmese kittens (702 [166] μmol/litre) and non-Burmese kittens (597 [93] μmol/litre), although these differences were not statistically significant. Higher levels of taurine were found in the skeletal muscle and lower levels in the heart muscle of the flat-chested Burmese kittens than in normal non-Burmese kittens.

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  • Dr Sturgess' present address is Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA

  • Ms Waters' present address is The Animal Health Trust, Department of Clinical Studies, PO Box 5, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7DW

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