Taurine: Why Cats Need It
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Who knew a little amino acid could be so critical in a cat’s diet? Taurine, or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, is an essential amino acid that’s necessary for a cat’s normal heart muscle function, vision and reproduction. Cats also use it to form the bile salts that aid in digestion. It’s essential for kittens so they grow up healthy and strong, and it’s essential for adult cats to maintain an active lifestyle.
Most mammals--humans included--manufacture taurine from other amino acids that naturally occur in their diets. But because cats can’t manufacture the amount that their bodies need, they need to obtain it exclusively from the food they eat. Feeding a diet rich in animal protein, like meat and fish, ensures cats take in enough taurine--and it’s something you should share with your cat-owning customers.
Taurine is so important that it’s required by the American Association of Feed Control Officials to be included in all cats’ diets. AAFCO says that any dry or wet food product should have a minimum of 0.1 percent taurine in dry food and 0.2 percent in wet food. Most commercial diets contain the prescribed amount of taurine AAFCO recommends either by formulating the food with quality proteins or adding to the blend.
What could happen if cats don’t get the recommended amount of taurine? Here are some common symptoms of taurine deficiency:
- Blindness: Taurine is essential to the proper development and function of the cells in the retina of the eye. If kittens and adults don’t get enough taurine, the retinal cells don’t function as they should and may die, which could cause impaired vision and even irreversible blindness. This process is referred to as feline central retinal degeneration.
- Heart disease: Cats also need taurine for proper heart function. A deficiency may lead to a weak heart muscle, which can then result in heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardimyopathy and can be fatal.
- Poor reproduction and growth: Taurine is necessary for optimal reproductive growth and performance. Both the queen and the kittens must maintain adequate taurine levels during pregnancy, lactation and growth to ensure proper structural development.
Encourage kitten and cat owners to feed their pets a diet rich in quality proteins. If a customer adopts a new kitten or comes in to purchase kitten products, talk to him about the importance of feeding his pet a high-quality diet that contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a growing kitten needs. It’s your chance to make a positive difference in his--and his pet’s--life. <HOME>
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Taurine: Why Cats Need It
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