Taurine: an essential nutrient for cats

James Morris, Quinton Rogers, L. M. Pacioretty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The β‐sulphonic amino acid taurine is synthe‐sised in animals from dietary sulphur amino acids. Cats exclusively use taurine to conjugate cholic acid rather than being able to use the alternate glycine conjugation. Since total body synthesis of taurine in cats is limiting, metabolic deficiencies of taurine occur when the dietary intake of taurine is restricted. A deficiency of taurine in cats is expressed by aberrant functions of a wide range of organ systems. Pathological changes occur in the eye, feline central degeneration; reproductive abnormalities occur in the female, a high incidence of fetal resorptions and abortions, low birth weight and survival of live‐born young; growth rate in the new born kitten is depressed; heart induction of dilated cardiomyopathy and compromised immune function. All these conditions are prevented or reversed with adequate dietary taurine. While all tissues contain taurine, the concentration varies with the tissue. Generally plasma has been used to assess taurine status in cats, but the concentration of taurine in plasma varies widely. Food deprivation of cats given high taurine diets causes a marked fall in the concentration of taurine in plasma. Major changes in whole blood concentration do not occur as rapidly as plasma and therefore appear to be a superior diagnostic test for taurine status. An inadequate number of samples have been analysed to define a marginal taurine level from whole blood concentration to prevent clinical signs. The minimal dietary concentration of taurine to prevent clinical signs of efficiency is dependent on the type of diet. For commercial expanded (dry) cat foods a concentration of 1200 mg taurine/kg dry matter appears adequate. Higher concentrations are required in canned diets, 2000 to 2500 mg taurine/kg dry matter to supply adequate taurine. The reasons for the higher concentration of taurine required in canned foods is not due to availability of taurine in the classical context. Rather it appears that heating during the canning process produces products which increase enterohepatic loss of taurine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-509
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Small Animal Practice
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


Dive into the research topics of 'Taurine: an essential nutrient for cats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this