Taurine For Cats - Should You Give Your Cat Taurine Supplements?

It’s hard to talk about cat nutrition without taurine making its way into the conversation. You’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering what taurine is and what exactly does it do for cats.

What is taurine? 

Taurine is an amino acid that cats need to stay healthy. Amino acids are needed by your cat’s cells in order to create proteins. 

Your cat’s body is able to synthesize some of the amino acids it needs, while other amino acids can only be obtained from their diets. Amino acids that can only be obtained through food are considered as ‘essential’ amino acids. 

Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats. Cats who do not get enough of it from their diets will suffer from taurine deficiency and this will lead to numerous health issues.  

Why do cats need taurine? 

Taurine is an essential nutrient for cats as it is required for a cat’s health in the following areas:

  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Eyes
  • Heart
  • Immune system
  • Growth and development of kittens

As cats are unable to synthesize taurine, they need it from food sources. It is important that your cat gets an adequate amount of taurine as your cat’s body will metabolize this amino acid quickly. 

Cats who do not get the taurine that they need will soon suffer from deficiencies. 

Taurine deficiency in cats 

Taurine deficiency in cats does not happen overnight. It is not easily recognizable as symptoms may worsen gradually without you noticing. Cats who have a taurine deficiency will eventually have health issues such as :

  • Blindness - Taurine is important for the development and function of the cells in a cat’s retina. A taurine deficiency will cause impaired vision and the degeneration of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Blindness can occur if the deficiency is not addressed. 
  • Heart disease (dilated cardiomyopathy) - A taurine deficiency will weaken a cat’s heart muscles which will affect the heart’s ability to pump blood and eventually lead to congestive heart failure.
  • Gastrointestinal issues - Taurine has a role in the production of bile and salts that are needed to digest fat. As such, one of the symptoms of a taurine deficiency is digestion issues and diarrhea. 
  • Reproductive issues - Cats with a taurine deficiency may not be able to have kittens
  • Developmental issues - Kittens to mothers with a taurine deficiency have a poorer survival rate and grow at a slower rate than kittens who belong to a healthy queen
  • Immune system disorders - Cats that are taurine deficient have a harder time fighting viruses and illness
  • Tooth decay - Taurine plays a role in keeping your cat’s teeth strong. Cavities are more likely in cats that do not have adequate taurine in their diet
  • Diabetes - Taurine is needed in blood sugar regulation. Without enough taurine, cats are more prone to develop this disease. 
  • Lethargy - Taurine deficient cats can come across as tired and listless. 

Natural sources of taurine for cats 

If you are looking for natural sources of taurine to add to your cat’s diet, here’s a list that you can refer to. The approximate amount of taurine per 100g in the list of food below is taken from a study on the potential protective effects of taurine on heart disease

Raw fish is a great source of taurine. You can also choose to give your cat freeze dried fish, fish flakes fish treats as well as dehydrated fish. The following are some amounts contained in several types of fish

  • Canned tuna - 41.5mh/100g
  • Chunk light tuna - 39mg/100g
  • Frozen codfish - 31mg/100g
  • Raw whitefish - 113.9mg/100g

Shellfish contain even more taurine than fish. However, not all cat food products contain shellfish. They may also be rather costly in certain areas. 

  • Raw scallops - 827.7mg/100g
  • Raw mussels - 39.4mg/100g
  • Raw clams - 240mg/100g
  • Canned clams - 152mg/100g
  • Fresh oysters - 70mg/100g
  • Raw squid - 356.7mg/100g

Meat and poultry also contain lots of taurine. Dark poultry meat has a higher taurine content compared to light meat. You should be able to get raw and freeze-dried meat for your cat quite easily. 

  • Raw turkey (dark meat) - 306mg/100g
  • Roasted turkey (dark meat) - 299.6mg/100g
  • Raw turkey (light meat) - 29.6mg/100g
  • Roasted turkey (light meat) - 11.1mg/100g
  • Raw chicken (dark meat) - 82.6mg/100g
  • Raw chicken (light meat) - 17.5mg/100g
  • Raw lamb - 43.8mg/100g
  • Raw beef - 43.1mg/100g
  • Broiled beef - 38.4mg/100g

If you are looking for a balanced, healthy meal that contains all the nutrients that your cat needs, Petcubes’ raw diets for cats are a delicious option that you cat will love.

Taurine supplements for cats

If you’re wondering if you should give your cat taurine supplements, here’s the good news. Almost all commercially available cat foods have adequate taurine for your cat. As such, taurine supplements for cats are usually only needed if your cat is not taking in a proper, balanced and nutritious diet. 

Cats who are fed a vegetarian or vegan diet may need taurine supplements as this amino acid mostly comes from meat, and fish sources. You may also want to give taurine supplements to your cat if it is displaying symptoms of taurine deficiency. 

While supplementing your cat’s diet with taurine is usually safe, do check with your vet before doing so. Your vet may be able to make recommendations on which taurine supplements are best for your cat. Additionally, some supplements do not just contain taurine but also other cat vitamins that are essential for your feline.  

Conclusion

Taurine is an essential amino acid that is important to your cat’s health. The lack of taurine will result in numerous health issues, some of which are irreversible. As such, it is important to ensure that your cat’s diet contains a good level of taurine. If you are planning on giving your cat taurine supplements, do check with your veterinarian before you do so to ensure that the supplement is safe for your cat.

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