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What is Taurine and Why It's Important For Your Cat

 by jaime on 14 Jul 2014 |
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What is Taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid that is essential for many cellular functions around the body. It is produced in the liver and then gets absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestines. It is most concentrated in the heart, central nervous system, eyes and skeletal muscles. Unlike other amino acids, taurine is a 'free amino acid,' meaning, it is found in body tissues rather than being incorporated into proteins.

Why is it important?
In cats, taurine is incredibly important for healthy heart muscle function, vision, reproduction and aids in forming bile salts that are critical to digestion. Most other mammals are able to manufacture healthy levels of taurine from other amino acids, and while cats are also able to do this, they cannot produce sufficient amounts of taurine to be considered healthy.

What can happen if your cat doesn't get enough taurine?
A cat deficient in taurine can suffer serious health complications. These include:
  • Blindness: A lack of taurine causes retina cells to stop functioning and die which leads to vision impairment and even blindness.
  • Heart disease: Insufficient amounts of taurine causes a weakening of the heart muscles, often leading to heart failure which can be fatal.
  • Reproductive issues: A lack of taurine can cause issues for reproductive and growth ability in mothers and kittens. It can cause many problems throughout pregnancy, lactation and the development of kittens.
How can your cat receive the taurine they require
While your cat is not able to naturally produce the right levels of taurine, you are easily able to compensate through diet. Taurine is found only through animal-based proteins so it's vital your cat is eating the necessary amount. There is little to no taurine found in vegetables so be aware of that if you feed your cat a diet with lots of greenery.

Selecting a good quality cat food that boasts a high amount of animal-based protein should be enough for your cat to acquire all the taurine they need. Taurine is found in both wet and dry food varieties, although the reason it's sometimes not listed as an ingredient on dry foods is because it occurs so highly in those types of food.

If you normally prepare home cooked food for your cat, be aware that the cooking process reduces the amount of taurine in meat to half or two-thirds of what was there when it was raw. As a guideline, your cat should be consuming 1000mg (1gm) of taurine per 2.2 lbs of food. However, if you are feeding your cat a regular diet of dried or canned cat food, you should have no cause for concern as to whether you're feeding your cat the correct amount.

And if you are ever worried that you might give your cat too much taurine, don't be - it's incredibly difficult for a cat to overdose on taurine.

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