Taurine is known to many, especially in connection with energy drinks. Here’s why taurine is so important for cats.
Taurine in the cats
Taurine is a breakdown product of an animal protein amino acid. The correct term is aminosulfonic acid. But many people, including us, speak of taurine as an amino acid. The cat’s system needs it for metabolism to function and for good digestion. As with dogs, taurine deficiency in cats can lead to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This is a rare disease in which the heart becomes quite enlarged. How taurine works in detail is not entirely clear, as many bodily functions influence each other. In any case, taurine helps regulate body temperature and promotes the absorption of important fats from food. It is also important for the proper brain development of growing animals and may influence the sense of smell.
The need for cats
Unlike many other animals, cats can hardly produce taurine on their own. They depend on their daily intake of food, which is why taurine is one of the essential amino acids for them. They need about 500 mg daily. Kittens, older cats and pregnant cats may require a little more. In general, feedstuffs meet that need completely. A taurine deficiency is not very common. Almost always, the causes in these cases are obvious. For example, because the kitten has been eating dog food or only food supplements for a long period of time. Moustached whiskers on a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet are also at risk.
Symptoms of taurine deficiency
At first, when a cat has a taurine deficiency, nothing is noticeable for a while. Symptoms do not appear for at least six months, and in some cases, two years. Among them are:
- irreversible retinal degeneration that can cause the cat to go blind.
- There is an increased risk of fetal mortality in pregnant females.
- The slow development of kittens
- cardiomyopathies manifested by listlessness or pale mucous membranes
- a weakened immune system
- nervousness and aggressiveness
Taurine for cats in nature
Fresh muscle meat (this includes the heart) has a high taurine content. Also, the brain and liver are rich in taurine. Cats that have access to the outdoors and hunt a lot of mice have their needs covered. Even rats as prey contain a lot of taurine. Plants do not have taurine, but there is one exception: prickly pear figs. It is unlikely that a cat would want to satisfy its needs with this exotic fruit full of thorns. However, the amino acid is very sensitive to heat, which means that those who roast, for example, chicken hearts, destroy most of the valuable nutrients.
Taurine for cats in feed and wet food
Whether it’s fresh meat, feed or wet food, everything contains taurine. But the cat’s system processes taurine differently depending on the type of dosage. In addition, the natural taurine content in prey or farm animals can vary. With the BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet, the cat usually receives sufficient taurine. However, the meat should not be cooked.
When it comes to feeding and wet food, it is advisable to choose products with a high meat content to ensure that the mustachioed cat receives sufficient taurine. But even here, the amount can vary due to the different taurine content of meat and different types of production. That is why many cat food manufacturers add taurine to their food, which is listed as an additive. An overdose is not possible in this context. We recommend that you choose a cat food with more than 1000 mg of taurine per kg.
Food supplements with taurine for cats
Numerous taurine food supplements are already available today. Some people with cats say that the extra taurine gives their cats a thicker and easier to care for coat. If you want to try this, you should buy a pure taurine product without additives or sugars. If you have a kitten with a chronic illness, you should first consult your veterinarian before mixing a food supplement into your kitten’s food.