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What is Taurine and Why do Cats Need It?

If you have a cat, you must have noticed “taurine” on the pack of cat food and cat treats. But do you know what taurine really is and why it is a key ingredient in a healthy diet for kitten? Check it out below.

Here’s Why Taurine is so Important to Cats:

Taurine is one of the essential nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of the cat’s body. A cat’s organism cannot produce sufficient amounts of taurine alone, so its source should be healthy food of animal origin, such as poultry, beef, and fish. Humans and even dogs can synthesize taurine from other amino acids; cats do not have this ability. In fact, cats can synthesize taurine, but in a very small and limited amount.

The reason is the lack of enzymes that activate the amino acids methionine and cysteine ​​and convert them to taurine. What is especially important about the presence of taurine in a cat’s meal is the synthesis of bile salts, important for the digestion process. As there is no alternative for their synthesis in cats – taurine is needed.

Today, cats generally do not have the health problems caused by taurine deficiency. Cats whose diet is not balanced are suffering the health risk. Lately, vegetarian, even vegan, cat food has emerged as a result of mapping trends from the human relationship to food. Such foods may be deficient and taurine should be added as a standalone supplement or as a complex with other vitamins and amino acids. Also, taurine deficiency can develop when cats are fed with homemade diets. To avoid these problems, make sure taurine is always present in your pet’s diet.

Taurine is involved in many metabolic processes, but it plays the most important role in the metabolism of bile salts, therefore in the digestive process, then in the functioning of the eye, heart muscle, and in the reproduction process. Also regulates the circulation of calcium in the body. It is especially significant that cats that are on a weight loss regimen or have a health problem have a controlled, sufficient intake of taurine.

Consequences of Taurine Deficiency

Long-term insufficient intake of taurine by food at a certain point begins to manifest itself as a problem at the level of cardiac function, vision or reproductive function.

– Central retinal degeneration in cats is the first syndrome recognized as a consequence of taurine deficiency. The primary role of taurine in the functioning of the retina is in the function of the photo-receptor. As a consequence of the long-term deficiency of taurine in the diet, serious destruction of these structures and even irreversible vision loss can be registered.

– Extensions of the heart muscle are characterized by decreased contractility of the heart muscle and enlargement of all four cardiac chambers, and after a long time there is a permanent disruption of cardiac function. Nowadays, cats generally have enlargement of the heart muscle for other reasons, so taurine supplementation helps, but it does not have such a rapid recovery effect.

– Cats with low levels of taurine may have problems during pregnancy. The role of taurine in reproduction is related to intrauterine development of the kitten.  These mommy cats do not have enough taurine in their milk, so taurine deficiency has a negative effect on baby development.

Preferred Amount of Taurine

How much taurine should cats get? The answer lies in a wide range of values ​​because it depends on the level and type of protein and fiber that the cat brings in through the diet and in ways in which food can be produced and prepared. Some types of protein and fiber (rice bran) block the absorption of taurine, then high temperature and cooking reduce the concentration of taurine in the meal, and when it comes to raw foods, that part of taurine is decomposed by bacteria.

According to the recommendations of the NRC and AAFCO (Reference American Pet Food Institutions), industrial cat food should have a minimum of 1,000 mg / kg of taurine in dried foods and 2,000 mg / kg in canned foods.

Approximately, a cat should bring about 25 milligrams of taurine daily. She needs a regular daily source of taurine because it does not store it, and part of it is lost due to its involvement in the digestion process

High amounts of taurine can be found in the dark meat of turkey and chicken. Dark poultry meat is higher in taurine than light meat. Organ meats are also a good source of taurine.

Turkey (dark meat raw): 306 mg/100g
Turkey (dark meat roasted): 299.6mg/100g
Chicken liver (raw): 110mg/100g [1]
Chicken (dark meat raw): 82.6mg/100g
Beef liver (raw): 68.8mg/100g[2]
Beef heart (raw): 63.2mg/100g[3]
Lamb (dark meat raw): 43.8mg/100g
Beef (raw): 43.1mg/100g
Beef (broiled): 38.4mg/100g
Turkey (light meat raw): 29.6mg/100g
Chicken (light meat raw): 17.5mg/100g
Turkey (light meat roasted): 11.1mg/100g

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