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The Importance of Taurine for Cats

Posted by Matt Bonanno
on Jan 26, 2018

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Taurine is an amino acid which humans and dogs synthesize organically. However, for cats, taurine is an essential amino acid. This means that it cannot be naturally produced by the body and must be consumed on a daily basis. Taurine is critical in maintaining a healthy immune system, supporting digestion (conjugating bile acids into bile salts), retinal function and heart, brain and muscle development.

Taurine is naturally found in fish and meat, specifically muscle meat. There is a correlation between the harder the muscle works and the quantity of taurine found in that source. As such, the heart is one of the highest sources of taurine. This is one of the reasons why Iron Will Raw adds heart to our all our blends and why we ensure it's inclusion in our Ground Formulas, which are made specifically with feline nutrition in mind.

What Happens without Taurine?

The clinical signs of taurine deficiency can take months and even years to become apparent. As a result, oftentimes once diagnosed taurine deficiency can be too advanced to reverse. Taurine deficiency can cause retinal degeneration (blindness), compromised immune system, oral decay, hair loss, lethargy, enlarging of the heart leading to heart failure, and reproductive or fetus development impairment.

Taurine in Food

Taurine is water soluble and as a result makes it very vulnerable to processing. Extreme heat and procedures used to cook and process kibble and canned food often result in loss of natural taurine through the loss of organic moisture.

With natural raw pet food diets, it is suggested that taurine may be damaged in the freezing process. While freezing does not alter the potency of taurine, what can happen is that the taurine dissolves into the accumulated liquid when the frozen product thaws. So it is important when raw feeding to preserve the liquid produced by thawing.

Taurine Availability in Iron Will Raw

Iron Will Raw sends all our formulas out to a third-party laboratory to specifically have the taurine levels tested. You can view the taurine for each formula on our product labels and on our menu page. There is some variance when it comes to the exact feline taurine requirement on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this daily requirement can be skewed by the commercial food industry which refers mostly to synthetic taurine which has to be added to diets after processing and as an artificial supplement. This addition of taurine is not as bioavailable for cats to absorb.

While all cats are different and there are various influences on their ability to absorb taurine, we refer to 2 sources for the suggested taurine requirements which are the Journal of Small Animal Practice and the AAFCO. The Journal of Small Animal Practice states that a normal range is between 35 and 250 mg a day. The AAFCO states 0.2% as the minimum.

Keep in mind that this AAFCO standard is based on a dry matter percentage.

Considering the above, let’s look at our Original Turkey which has a taurine content of 0.118% on an "as fed" basis, not on a dry matter basis, so we have to convert. The moisture content is 71.21%, so dry matter is 28.79%. So, 0.118 divided by 28.79 = 0.004 or 0.4%

To get mg value: 1 oz = 28.35 grams, 28.35 x .4% = .1134gr or 113.4 mg. So there is about 113.4 mg of taurine per ounce of food using the Original Turkey example. Multiply that by how many ounces you feed a day to get your total. Chances are it is higher than the “normal range” of required taurine however since taurine is water soluble felines do not store it so there is no harm in having too much taurine.

If you have questions about your feline’s health and the transition to feeding raw, please contact us at Iron Will Raw.

Tags: Nutrition, Cats