Unlike dogs, cats cannot synthesize taurine and must obtain it through their diet. Taurine is an important part of a cat’s diet because it helps support healthy vision and heart function. It also plays a role in a cat’s nervous system, helping to keep them calm and relaxed.
What is Taurine in cat food?
In cat food, taurine is one of the ingredients listed as an essential nutrient that cats need and cat food manufacturers in the US are required to include this ingredient.
In 1980s, scholars such as Sturman and Hayes made the case that cats need taurine in their bodies and NRC found those research to be credible and taurine was listed as an essential nutrient for cats.
Taurine is referred to as β-aminosulfonic acid, meaning that it is an organic compound that contains sulfur. It is found in animal tissues and is most abundant in the brain, heart, and muscles. Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid for cats, which means that while they can synthesize small amounts of taurine, they still need to obtain it through their diet.
When you see taurine on cat food labels, it is usually in the form of taurine sulfate or taurine chloride. Taurine sulfate is a salt that is more stable and easier to store than taurine, so it is often used as a supplement in cat food. Taurine chloride is another form of taurine that is sometimes used in cat food.
Do Cats Need Taurine?
Cats need Taurine and since they cannot synthesize it on their own, they must obtain it through their diet. Cats rely on Taurine for many different things including healthy vision, heart function, and a calm nervous system.
Is Taurine Good or Safe for Cats?
In the 2006 NRC Report on Nutrient Requirements for Dogs and Cats, the committee concluded that taurine is a safe and essential nutrient for cats. Through AAFCO, cat food manufacturers here in the US are now required to include taurine in cat food recipes. AAFCO has not only mandated the inclusion of taurine in cats’ diets but has also set a minimum amount per kilogram of diet.
Benefits of Taurine for cats:
Taurine plays an important role in a cat’s diet and has many benefits. Some of the benefits of taurine for cats include:
1. Healthy Vision:
Taurine is essential for healthy vision in cats. It helps to form part of the visual cells in the retina and also helps to prevent retinal degeneration.
2. Heart Function:
Taurine is important for heart function in cats. It helps to keep the heart muscle healthy and also helps to prevent arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
3. Calm Nervous System:
Taurine helps to keep the nervous system functioning properly in cats. It has a calming effect and can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
4. Healthy Skin and Coat:
Taurine is also important for healthy skin and coat in cats. It helps to keep the skin hydrated and also aids in the production of keratin, which is a key component of the skin and coat.
5. Boosts Immune System:
Taurine has also been shown to boost the immune system in cats. It helps to increase the production of white blood cells, which are important for fighting infection.
In addition to all these benefits, taurine also plays a role in osmoregulation (the regulation of water balance in the body).
Taurine is also an important antioxidant and can help to protect cells and tissues from damage caused by free radicals.
Taurine also plays a role in detoxification, helping to remove toxins and waste products from the body.
Finally, taurine has also been shown to be important for fertility in cats. It helps to increase the number of viable eggs and also aids in the development of healthy embryos.
Symptoms of Taurine Deficiency:
Cats that are deficient in taurine may exhibit a variety of symptoms, including:
1. Eye problems (Feline Central Retinal Degeneration):
One of the most common symptoms of taurine deficiency is eye problems. Cats may develop feline central retinal degeneration, which is a progressive condition that leads to blindness.
As early as 1975, Hayes et al. published a seminal paper on taurine deficiency in cats fed purified diets that contained no taurine. Hayes found that “A taurine-free diet fed to cats will produce FCRD with a slight reduction in cone and rod electroretinogram (ERG) a-wave and b-wave amplitudes and delays in the temporal aspects of the cone system b-wave”
2. Heart problems:
Taurine deficiency can also lead to heart problems in cats. It has been linked to cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle), arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure.
In 1987, the first study to observe DCM in cats fed a taurine-free diet was done by Pion et al. (1987) who found DCM to be characterized by other conditions such as dehydration, lethargy, and hypothermia.
Cats with DCM have congestive heart failure, which is linked to abnormal cardiac sounds and rhythm. Cats with DCM have enlarged hearts that are weak because of their thin walls, preventing them from contracting properly.
3. Neurological defects:
Taurine deficiency can also lead to neurological defects in cats. It has been linked to seizures, ataxia (loss of coordination), and cognitive dysfunction.
4. Gastrointestinal problems:
Taurine deficiency can also cause gastrointestinal problems in cats, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and pancreatitis.
5. Skin problems:
Taurine deficiency can also lead to skin problems, such as alopecia (hair loss), dermatitis (skin inflammation), and seborrhea (excessive oiliness of the skin).
6. Reproductive problems:
Taurine deficiency can also lead to reproductive problems in cats, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth abnormalities.
How is taurine deficiency diagnosed?
What causes taurine deficiency:
- Degraded taurine during cooking: Taurine is degraded during the cooking process, so cooked foods contain less taurine than raw foods.
- 2. Poor absorption: Certain health conditions can lead to poor absorption of taurine from the gut, which can lead to deficiency. These conditions include celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatitis.
- 3. Limited intake: Some cats may not consume enough taurine-containing foods or may not be able to absorb taurine from their diet.
- 4. Genetics: Some breeds of cats, such as the Siamese, are more prone to taurine deficiency due to their genetic makeup.
- 5. Metabolic disorders: Metabolic disorders, such as liver disease and diabetes, can lead to taurine deficiency.
How is Taurine deficiency diagnosed?
Taurine deficiency can be diagnosed with a blood test. The vet will check the level of taurine in the blood and compare it to the levels in healthy cats. If the level of taurine is low, then the cat is likely deficient.
Treatment of Taurine Deficiency:
1. Diet change: The most important treatment for taurine deficiency is a diet change. Cats should be fed a diet that is high in taurine or supplemented with taurine.
2. Taurine supplements: Taurine supplements are available for cats that cannot get enough taurine from their diet.
3. IV fluids: IV fluids may be necessary for cats with severe taurine deficiency.
4. Medications: Medications may be necessary for treating underlying conditions that lead to taurine deficiency, such as liver disease or pancreatitis.
5. Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to treat heart problems associated with taurine deficiency.
Side Effects of Taurine:
Taurine is generally safe and well-tolerated. However, there are some potential side effects that should be considered.
Some cats may be allergic to taurine. Symptoms of an allergy include itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. If you think your cat is having an allergic reaction to taurine, seek medical attention immediately.
Taurine can cause diarrhea in some cats. If your cat experiences diarrhea after starting a taurine supplement, discontinue use and consult your veterinarian.
3. Kidney problems:
Taurine can also cause kidney problems in some cats. If your cat has kidney disease, taurine supplements should be used with caution. Consult your veterinarian before giving taurine to a cat with kidney disease.
4. Excessive thirst and urination:
Taurine can also cause excessive thirst and urination in some cats. If your cat is drinking more water than usual or urinating more frequently, discontinue use of taurine and consult your veterinarian.
Taurine can also cause vomiting in some cats. If your cat vomits after taking taurine, discontinue use and consult your veterinarian.
Taurine is generally considered to be safe, even in large doses. However, there have been rare reports of taurine toxicity. Symptoms of taurine toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and seizures. If you think your cat has consumed too much taurine, seek medical attention immediately.
If you are considering giving your cat a taurine supplement, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Taurine is available in both capsules and liquids. Capsules may be easier to give, but liquids are more easily absorbed by the body.
2. Taurine supplements should be given with food to increase absorption.
3. Consult your veterinarian before giving taurine to a cat with kidney disease.
4. Discontinue use if your cat experiences any side effects and consult your veterinarian.
5. Never give more than the recommended dose of taurine.
Best Taurine supplements for Cats: PetAg Taurine Tablets for Cats
Looking for a supplement to support your cat’s development? PetAg Taurine Tablets provide essential taurine to cats during pregnancy, helping ensure healthy kittens. Taurine is an amino acid that helps with muscle development and overall health, making these tablets a great choice for expectant pet parents.
PetAg Taurine Tablets are a highly palatable chewable tablet that is perfect for cats of all ages. Made specifically for kittens and cats that may need more taurine in their diet, these tablets provide a convenient and easy way to ensure your cat is getting the nutrients they need.
Best Taurine supplements for Cats: PetAg Taurine Tablets for Cats
Taurine is an essential amino acid that helps maintain electrolyte balance. It is a conditionally essential amino acid for cats, as they cannot produce it in their bodies and must get it from food or supplements. Taurine is found naturally in animal tissues, but not in plants. Cats require taurine to maintain normal vision and heart function; without adequate amounts of taurine, they can go blind and develop congestive heart failure.
Taurine treats for cats:
While taurine is available in supplement form, there are also a variety of taurine-enriched treats available for cats. These treats are a great way to provide your cat with the taurine they need, while also giving them a delicious snack.
Nu Cat™ Multivitamin Chews are a delicious way to give your cat the vitamins and minerals they need for overall health and wellness. These chews contain taurine, as well as other essential nutrients, making them a great choice for cats of all ages.
Nu Cat™ Multivitamin Chews are available in a variety of flavors, including chicken, salmon, and tuna. They are also available in a grain-free formula for cats with sensitivities.
Pet Naturals Daily Multi is a daily supplement that provides cats with a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. This supplement contains taurine, as well as other essential nutrients, making it a great choice for cats of all ages.
Pet Naturals Daily Multi contains 20mg of taurine (1.6%) and other essential nutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, niacin, folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin C. This supplement is also available in a chicken flavor for picky eaters.
How much taurine to give my cat?
On Dry matter basis, AAFCO recommends a minimum of 0.1% to cats of all ages if the taurine is in an extruded diet. In a canned diet, AAFCO recommends a minimum of 0.2% for cats of all ages as shown in the AAFCO table below;
If you are giving a taurine supplement, always follow the directions on the package. If you are adding taurine to the diet, consult your veterinarian for guidance on how much to give.
Q: Is Taurine bad for cats?
A: No, taurine is not bad for cats. In fact, it is an essential nutrient that is necessary for the health of cats. Cats need them for various bodily functions, including the proper development of the heart, brain, and eyes. AAFCO has set minimum amounts that cat food manufacturers must include in cat food recipes being retailed here in the US.
Q: What is Taurine Cataracts?
A: Taurine is an amino acid that is found in the Whites of the Eyes. It helps to protect the eye from UV rays and other environmental toxins. Taurine Cataracts are a type of cataract that is caused by a deficiency of taurine in the diet. Cats who do not consume enough taurine are at risk for developing this type of cataract.
Q: What are the symptoms of Taurine Deficiency in cats?
A: The main symptom of taurine deficiency is dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a serious heart condition. Other symptoms include blindness, seizures, and death. Taurine deficiency can be deadly, so it is important to make sure that your cat is getting enough taurine in their diet. Read this study here on the taurine link with cataracts.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org