The amino acid composition of cat hair was determined by conventional 24-h acid hydrolysis and non-linear least-squares extrapolation to time zero of the amino acid composition data from a series of hydrolysis intervals. Twenty-five individual samples of cat hair, consisting of four colours, were also analysed (24-h hydrolysis) to determine if there was an effect of hair colour on amino acid composition. Amino acids were determined following HCl hydrolysis (6 mol/l) with cysteine and methionine determined by performic acid oxidation of the sample prior to hydrolysis.
There was no significant (P > 0·05) effect of hair colour on the amino acid composition of cat hair. The non-linear compartmental model used to determine the amino acid composition of cat hair took into account the simultaneously occurring processes of hydrolysis and degradation of amino acids over time. The amino acids cysteic acid, methionine-sulphone, threonine and serine exhibited high loss rates during 6 molll HCl hydrolysis while the peptide bonds involving valine and leucine were slowly hydrolysed. Amino acid nitrogen accounted for 0·94 of the total nitrogen in cat hair when determined by conventional 24-h hydrolysis and 0·99 of the total nitrogen when the compartmental model was applied. The average nitrogen proportion in cat hair protein was found to be 0·175. The amino acid composition of cat hair protein is comparable with that of dog, horse, sheep and human hair although the proline content of cat hair protein appears to be lower than that in the other species.
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