Between October 1986 and September 1988, 37 cats with moderate to severe idiopathic myocardial failure (dilated cardiomyopathy) were evaluated prospectively. Low plasma taurine concentration and diet history including foods that can cause taurine deficiency were documented in most of the cats. Comparison with a retrospectively studied population of 33 cats with dilated cardiomyopathy diagnosed between 1980 and 1986 demonstrated that the clinical and historical findings in the 33 retrospectively studied cats were similar to those in the 37 cats studied prospectively. Clinical findings in the 2 groups were also similar to findings previously reported in the literature. Because clinical findings and diet history were similar in the prospective and retrospective groups, we believe that many cats in the latter group had diet-induced taurine deficiency. These findings support the conclusion that most cases of dilated cardiomyopathy in cats have a common etiopathogenesis related to diet and as such are preventable.