Taurine is an amino acid which is an essential element in the feline diet. Unlike most other animals, cats cannot make taurine on their own within their bodies. Adequate amounts of taurine need to be present in his diet to keep your cat from becoming ill.
What Are the Symptoms of Taurine Deficiency in the Feline?
Taurine is required for a healthy heart, for good vision and for normal reproduction and growth. It is also necessary for proper digestion because it is needed to form the bile salts that are part of the digestive process.
Cats suffering from taurine deficiency may suffer several different types of symptoms.
- Blindness can occur because the retina of the eye will degenerate without adequate amounts of taurine.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy is a specific type of heart disease. In this disease, the muscle of the heart is weakened and the heart is unable to function properly as a result. Taurine deficiency is a potential cause of dilated cardiomyopathy.
- Inadequate amounts of taurine in the diet can also cause a loss of reproductive ability for adult cats and/or slow growth for kittens.
Where Does Taurine Come From?
Taurine is present in animal proteins. In most cases, cat food should contain a high quality source of animal protein. In cases where this is not possible, it may necessary to supplement taurine in your cat’s diet.
How Can A Cat Owner Tell Whether Their Cat Needs a Taurine Supplement?
If your cat is receiving a high quality food that is complete and well-balanced, it is unlikely that a taurine supplement is necessary.
Commercially available cat food diets on the market today typically contain adequate levels of taurine. In the past, this was a problem. However, as scientists learned more about the individual nutritional needs of cats as a species, cat food manufacturers began to realize that their foods were deficient in taurine and added higher levels to provide an adequate amount. Therefore, if your cat is eating a commercial diet, it is unlikely he needs additional taurine supplementation.
However, if you are feeding a home-made diet for your cat, it is possible that the taurine levels could be inadequate. In this case, it may necessary to supplement your cat’s food.
Taurine levels in your cat’s blood can be measured. Though this is not a routine test in most cases, if there is concern that your cat’s diet does not contain adequate taurine, your veterinarian may recommend performing this test.
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