What Is Taurine and Why Is It Important to Cats?
Taurine is an essential amino acid that is critical for normal heart muscle function, vision, and reproduction in cats. Taurine is also needed to form the bile salts that aid in digestion. Unlike other amino acids, taurine is found as a free amino acid in body tissues such as the heart and eyes and is not incorporated into proteins.
Most mammals manufacture taurine from other amino acids. However, cats cannot manufacture a sufficient amount of taurine and, therefore, must acquire enough additional taurine through diet to meet their needs. Specifically, cats need meat to fulfill this requirement, as taurine is found exclusively in animal-based protein.
Why Isn't Taurine Always Listed As an Ingredient in Cat Foods?
Taurine is found naturally in animal-based proteins, including high-quality animal proteins. Selecting a cat food with high-quality animal protein, such as Eukanuba® Adult Chicken, that has meat as the primary ingredient is one way to ensure that your cat is getting sufficient taurine.
Dry cat foods that contain enough high-quality animal-based protein to supply adequate levels of taurine will not include taurine in the ingredient list. This is because the list contains only the ingredients that are added in the manufacturing of the diet.
When Is Taurine Listed As an Ingredient?
Taurine is listed when it is added to manufactured dry cat foods that are low in animal-based protein and, hence, un-supplemented taurine levels.
Wet cat foods also list taurine as an ingredient because they must contain as much as twice the amount of taurine found in dry food for cats to maintain adequate blood taurine. Scientists are just beginning to understand how the canning process affects the complex taurine balance in cats.
What Are Some Effects of Taurine Deficiency?
Cats eating a diet that is deficient in taurine can develop:
Taurine is essential to the proper development and function of cells in the retina of the eye. If insufficient taurine is present, the retinal cells don't function properly and may die, eventually causing impaired vision and even blindness. This process is referred to as feline central retinal degeneration.
Taurine is also necessary for normal function of the heart muscle cells. Taurine deficiency leads to weakening of the heart muscle, which in turn can lead to heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal.
Decreased Reproductive Performance and Growth
Taurine is necessary for optimal reproductive and growth performance. Both the mother and kittens must maintain adequate taurine levels during pregnancy, lactation, and growth to ensure proper structural development.
All cat foods must contain taurine, an amino acid found naturally only in animal-based proteins, because cats cannot manufacture sufficient amounts on their own.
All of our dry cat foods are formulated with high-quality, animal-based proteins as their primary ingredient to provide optimal levels of natural taurine.