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Taurine And Its Importance In Cat Foods

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 digestion. Unlike other amino acids, taurine is found as a free amino acid in body tissues such as the heart and eyes.

Most mammals manufacture taurine from other amino acids. However, cats cannot manufacture a sufficient amount 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 proteins.

Why Isn't Taurine Always Listed As An Ingredient?

Because taurine is found naturally in animal-based proteins, including high-quality animal protein from chicken, lamb or fish as the primary ingredient in a dry cat food is a great way to ensure the cat receives 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 added to manufactured dry cat foods that are low in animal-based protein and, hence, taurine levels.

Canned 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.

All Iams canned cat foods are supplemented with taurine to meet these higher needs.

How Is Taurine Adequacy Checked?

To evaluate the taurine adequacy of a diet, blood taurine levels can be measured in cats fed that diet over time.

Iams cat nutrition undergoes tests in which whole blood and plasma taurine are measured at the beginning and end of the test period, as well as at two-week intervals. These data allow our nutritionists to monitor trends, ensuring that optimal taurine levels are sustained.

What Are The Benefits Of Taurine?

Cats eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes taurine can enjoy:

Healthy, Clear Eyes
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 atrophy degeneration.
Strong Heart
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 dilatedcardiomyopathy and can be fatal. 
Optimal Growth and Reproductive Performance
Taurine is necessary for optimal reproductive and growth performance. Both the queen and kittens must maintain adequate taurine levels during pregnancy, lactation and growth to ensure proper structural development.

How can we help you and your cat?

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