What is Taurine?
Taurine is a type of amino acid that is a component of all proteins. Taurine is found only in animal proteins. It is important for maintaining normal vision, digestion, myocardial function, normal pregnancy and fetal development, and maintaining a healthy immune system. Taurine is an essential amino acid in cats.
What is an essential amino acid?
When humans and animals eat protein, it is broken down into individual amino acid components before it is ingested. Of the 20 common amino acids, some can be made in the body from other amino acids, but others are essential. That is, the body cannot make them and must include them as part of the diet. Different animal species have different requirements for essential amino acids.
Most mammals can meet their needs by synthesizing sufficient taurine from other amino acids. However, cats have limited ability to make taurine. Therefore, taurine is classified as an essential nutrient for cats. Fortunately for cats, taurine is easily absorbed from the diet as long as the diet contains animal protein. Unfortunately, it is not stored in large quantities in the body and should be taken on a regular basis.
What happens if taurine levels are deficient?
The clinical manifestations of taurine deficiency progress slowly. Depending on the life stage of the cat, it may take several months before symptoms appear.
If taurine levels are too low, the retinal cells of the eye will eventually degenerate and impair vision. This condition is called taurine retinopathy in cats or, more commonly, central retinal degeneration (FCRD) in cats. Taurine deficiency also leads to weakening of the muscle cells of the heart, causing a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). For more information, see our guide to dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs and cardiomyopathy in cats. Taurine is a component of bile salts, and its deficiency can cause indigestion.
Why recommend administration of taurine to my pet?
Processing can affect dietary taurine levels, but increased fiber intake can reduce absorption. Cat food with high quality animal protein provides a sufficient amount of taurine for normal and healthy cats. Dog food does not contain enough taurine to meet the normal needs of cats.
Additional taurine may be added to certain cat foods and treats, especially diets prescribed for specific needs such as growth and development or heart disease. The supplement is relatively safe, and no problems related to cat excess diet taurine have been reported. Taurine was first recognized as a nutritional ingredient in cats in the late 1980s. Since then, all diets formulated for cats have been supplemented with enough taurine to meet the normal needs of cats. Supplement Taurine is used to treat dilated cardiomyopathy in cats.
Fish for a Cat
Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid in fish nutrition, fish are often used in many cat foods because they are high in taurine. It also provides your cat with other nutritional benefits. Cold water fish such as sardines, anchovies or salmon are excellent, natural sources of Taurine that cat’s love.
Other Foods That Contain Taurine
All types of shellfish have an insane amount of taurine. Of the different types of shellfish, shrimp and clams have the highest amount of taurine. Krill and scallops also have a decent taurine content, but it isn’t as high as the other mentioned shellfish varieties.
Chicken is the good source for taurine, which is why many cat food has a chicken flavor and ingredients. Dark meat chicken is especially the best. In contrast, the fat and skin of chicken does not have any taurine. So, feed your cat chicken meat from the legs or liver but avoid the fat and skin.
Turkey is much like chicken in terms of its taurine content. Turkey legs and thighs will have the most amount of taurine because that is where the dark meat is located. The organs of the turkey also provide a lot of taurine and nutrition for your cat. Once again, avoid the turkey skin and fat, though there isn’t much fat to avoid.
Eggs are controversial. There are mixed studies – some of them found very low taurine levels and some found very high ones. Taurine levels seems to be affected by the feed and supplementation of the hen. Regardless, eggs are a good source of nutrition to your cat; however, we recommend only feeding boiled eggs to your cat to avoid any potential Salmonella
Almost all meat contains a certain amount of taurine. For taurine content, additional health benefits, and convenience, it is advisable to feed cat chicken, turkey, or fish. All three options are readily available, do not break the bank and provide cats with plenty of taurine.
If you can't handle the idea of feeding cat meat, take taurine supplements instead. Supplements don't offer as many nutritional benefits as raw meat, but they can ensure that your cat gets the taurine it needs without disturbing your stomach.