You’re looking at the label on all of the cat food bags trying to decide which to buy. There are just so many numbers and ingredients. You spot that there’s taurine in the cat food but is that good or bad?
NOTE: this article is purely about dry cat food. Check out our own range of cat food.
All About Taurine In Cat Food
First of all. Taurine is an amino acid.
It comes from animal-based proteins.
Humans need taurine as well as cats. However, we are able to make taurine from other amino acids as well as getting it from the food we eat.
Cats are unable to make their own taurine and must get all of their supply from their food.
The other trouble with cats is that they are constantly excreting taurine. This means they constantly need to top up their taurine levels via their food.
Taurine is used for:
- Forming bile to aid digestion
- Maintenance of normal heart function
- Maintaining vision
What About Taurine Deficiency?
Taurine deficiency occurs when taurine levels drop below normal levels.
As taurine is essential for normal functions, a deficiency is going to cause problems for your cat.
There are three main problems associated with taurine deficiency.
The first is feline central retinal degeneration. This is where the retinal cells in your cat’s eyes can’t function properly. Eventually, these cells start to die. This causes your cat to have impaired vision and in the end, they will go blind.
The second problem is cardiomyopathy. This can be reversed if it’s caught early enough. Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. Without enough taurine, the heart muscle starts to weaken. It becomes unable to pump blood quite as efficiently as it used to. Over time this can lead to heart failure.
The third problem is reproductive failure in females: leading to stillbirth, reduced litter size, low birth weight, and poor kitten survival.
Taurine deficiencies tend to be long-term and are difficult to spot. Therefore, it’s important to feed cat food with enough taurine to prevent deficiencies.
How Much Taurine Should My Cat Have?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials requires a minimum of 0.1% taurine in dry cat food.
This is quite generic and I wanted a more specific answer. I found a scientific paper which went into more detail (you can read it here if you’re interested).
They stated that for a cat to have normal taurine levels, they would need to have > 60 mmol/L in their plasma.
They found that to keep these plasma levels normal, a cat would need:
at least 19 mg/kg of bodyweight every day
For a 4 kg cat, this works out as 76 mg of taurine each day.
Now we know how much taurine our 4 kg cat needs, let’s have a look at some popular cat foods and see which provide enough taurine.
Taurine Quantities In Popular Cat Food
I’ve researched popular cat foods and their taurine levels. You can see them in the table below. Serving sizes and subsequent taurine levels are based on our 4kg cat example from above.
The foods are ranked from most taurine to least taurine per day.
Red text indicates Taurine levels below the recommended 76 mg/day for our 4 kg cat.
|Cat Food||Serving Size Per Day||Taurine (mg per kg)|
Taurine Per Day
|Surrounded By Animals – Turkey||55||2000||110|
|Applaws – Chicken||45||2000||90|
|Wainwrights – Turkey||70||1280||89.6|
|Harringtons – Chicken||110||750||82.5|
|AVA – Fish||60||1200||72|
|Whiskers 1+ – Chicken||55||1300||71.5|
|Pets At Home Complete Nutrition – Salmon||70||1000||70|
|Go Cat – Chicken & Duck||70||870||60.9|
|James Wellbeloved – Turkey||50||1000||50|
|Purina One – Chicken||65||700||45.5|
As you can see, over half of popular cat foods have taurine levels below the recommended amounts.
Which food are you feeding your cat?
Are they getting enough taurine?