You may have only heard of taurine as an ingredient in that energy drink you down to get the morning started, and you have no idea what it actually is. It’s time to learn a bit about this amino acid, which your cat needs to stay healthy.
Your cat’s body uses taurine to form proteins. Smokey needs taurine for vision, digestion and a healthy heart. Most mammals produce their own taurine from other amino acids in their diet, but Smokey isn't so good at creating taurine. He's an obligate carnivore. This means he eats meat and has to get a lot of the nutrients his body needs by consuming animal protein because he can't create it himself.
As an adult, Smokey needs 100 mg of taurine every day. As long as his diet includes enough protein, at least 28 percent, he should be able to get enough taurine. If he is on a special diet, perhaps of home-cooked foods, speak with his vet about whether he needs a taurine supplement. Smokey should never eat dog food over a long period, because dog food has 20 percent less protein than cat food and he won't get taurine and other nutrients.
Throughout different stages of your cat's life -- kittenhood, adulthood, old age or pregnancy -- she'll have slightly different nutritional needs. Feed the proper food for Kitty’s age. Kitten food has more calories for her higher energy needs; conversely, food for an aging feline has fewer calories. Opt for higher-quality foods. They may be pricier than cheaper brands, but they'll likely contain more protein and the nutrients Kitty needs.
Max’s body can’t store a lot of taurine, so he needs to get it every day. Check the ingredient list on Max's food to ensure you're giving him a well-balanced diet. If he doesn't get enough taurine for a long period, between five months to two years, he can develop central retinal degeneration, which can lead to blindness. His heart muscles weaken and may fail. Taurine is also needed for bile production, so he won't be able to digest his food properly without it. A pregnant cat who doesn't get enough taurine will likely have a small litter of kittens, who will be underweight and possibly have birth defects.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Taurine in Cats
- Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine: Feeding Your Cat
- ASPCA Complete Cat Care Manual; Andrew Edney, B.V.M.