Taurine for Cats

Some cat owners may wonder what the importance is of taurine for cats. Taurine is an essential feline amino acid that must be provided in their diets. Let’s look at the benefits of taurine for your cat and how you can provide it for her each day.

How Taurine Helps Maintain Your Cat’s Health

Taurine helps maintain your cat’s health in a variety of ways. Two of the most important functions of taurine are to protect against the deterioration of your cat’s retinas so she doesn’t go blind, and proper heart muscle function.

Cats without proper dietary taurine levels can suffer from a life-threatening heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle does not function properly because the ventricular chambers become enlarged and unable to efficiently pump blood. This condition was once considered incurable, but it can now be reversed with taurine supplementation if it is caught early.

Your cat also needs taurine to maintain normal body weight, blood sugar levels, and liver and muscle function. Taurine also helps your cat maintain her coat and teeth, and it is necessary during pregnancy to prevent health problems, such as abortion or birth defects, for both the mother cat and her unborn kittens.

Most growing cats require a maintenance level of 400 mg of taurine per kilogram of body weight daily, while mature animals require 500 mg per kilogram.

Symptoms of a Feline Taurine Deficiency

Taurine deficiency is a condition that develops over time, so some of its symptoms can be subtle. They can include shortness of breath, appetite loss, lethargy, poor vision, a rough-looking coat, dental problems, and poor growth.

As you might suspect, treatment for taurine deficiency requires the addition of supplemental taurine to your cat’s diet. In some cases, these supplements can be discontinued after several months when symptoms subside, but in other cases, supplementation is part of an long-term treatment plan.

How to Provide Taurine for Your Cat

The problem of inadequate taurine levels in cat food became a concern in the late 1980s when dilated cardiomyopathy was one of the most common feline cardiac conditions. At that time, the link between the disease and a need to add taurine to commercial cat food was identified, and most commercially manufactured cat foods provide adequate taurine levels for pet cats. If your cat needs supplemental taurine, your veterinarian can prescribe supplements for your pet.

If you make a homemade diet for your cat, you will need to provide an appropriate taurine level for her. When planning your cat’s diet, remember that raw meat contains taurine, but taurine levels decrease significantly after meat is cooked. Discuss your pet’s taurine needs with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist.

Please note that cats cannot thrive on a strictly vegetarian diet because they need the taurine provided by meat products to maintain good health. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they must eat meat daily to stay healthy.

The chances of your cat suffering from a taurine overdose are slim because her body does not store excess taurine in her body fat or other tissues. Instead, her body excretes any taurine it doesn’t need to maintain her health.