Taurine is essential for cats

Cats Need TaurineTaurine is an amino acid (AA) talked about when referring to feline diets. For cats, unlike most other mammals, taurine is an essential amino acid, meaning that cats can not synthesize their own taurine from other building block amino acids as can dogs and even humans.  Thus it is essential that cats take in adequate taurine in their diet on a regular basis.

With prolonged deficiencies of taurine, cats can develop central retinal degeneration,resulting in blindness.  Dilated cardiomyopathy is another real risk.  In this condition, the heart dilates, its walls become thinner and weaker, making the heart less effective and resulting in a form of heart failure.

It is considered fact at this point that cats do require taurine.  It is even fairly widely agreed upon that cats should consume 1000mg (1 gm) or taurine per 2.2 lbs of food.  The discussion begins with the question – Is my cat getting enough with the diet that I am feeding??

It turns out that this question is more difficult to answer than might at first be thought.  We know that taurine is supplied almost exclusively by meat and seafood.  Vegetables contain little to no measurable taurine as a group. Taurine is broken down by heat, thus, cooking meat will destroy over half to maybe 2/3 of the taurine that was available raw.  It is difficult to calculate the amount of taurine actually supplied by a particular diet given the variables- baking vs boiling meat results in losing different amounts of taurine, meat from the chicken leg has much more taurine than that from the breast, and the list of variables goes on and on.

To give you an idea of the amount of taurine in foods, I will provide this list but please understand, these numbers are not concrete.

beef muscle 10 mg/oz raw 1.7mg/oz cooked

beef liver 5.5 mg/oz raw  

lamb13.5 mg/oz raw         3.6mg/oz cooked

chicken 9.5mg/oz raw      2.3mg/oz cooked

fish  36mg/oz raw

shrimp 48mg/oz raw

nutritional yeast 30mg/tablet or 1/2 teaspoon

Given the inexact science behind figuring these numbers  and the known dangers of under-feeding this essential amino acid to cats, I do recommend supplementing taurine in cats who are on a homemade diet.  For most cats, I find that 75-100 mg of taurine per day is about right, although for some cats, I have seen this number climb close to 300 mg per day.  Taurine is not stored by cats and would be very difficult to overdose.  Many times you will find that you are dosing a “pinch” given the capsule size you are able to find.  This approximating approach should work just fine.  With taurine and cats, a little excess is definitely preferable to not quite enough.

 Happy feeding.

59 Responses to “Taurine is essential for cats”

  1. Patrick Gamroth says:

    We have ten ferrets and have started fiving them a different vitamin supplement. we noticed that the supplement is fortified with taurine. Does taurine, in any way, help “boost” thier system against the adrenal problems ferrets are prone to? We have lost two ferrets to this disease and are looking for anything that will help deter this condition for any of the rest of our “little monsters”. Thank you in advance for your reply.

  2. Dr Lord says:

    I have never seen a reference to taurine helping with adrenal disease. It seems that the general consensus is that ferrets do not often have trouble with taurine deficiency. They are more like dogs than cats that way. If it was to help a condition, it would most likely be heart disease. There should be no problem, however, with a supplement containing some taurine.

  3. Richard N says:

    Hi Dr. Lord,
    I have a tiny feral kitten, just rescued. He had bad fleas and worms. He weighed less than a pound. Yes, a tech said I needed to slam him with raw ground beef (93/7), then work on getting him into a good diet. Something about low iron due to fleas. He’s well guesstimated at 7 weeks (has molars coming in). Four days later he has gained 1/2 pound, is flea-free and de-wormed. Also got the shots that he can handle at that weight. “Atilla” is doing great.
    I want to create my own kitten diet. I need suggestions…
    I do NOT TRUST imported cat food.
    Any help (or links) would be great.
    Thank You…

  4. Do you have an rss feed? I didn’t see it. Sorry, but I am not blonde.

  5. Erin says:

    Hi there!
    both of our cats are on a raw food diet, doing very well, and the only thing I’m concerned about is the amount of taurine they are getting. They eat primarily beef (muscle), chicken, lamb, and pork, as well as raw, bone-in patties (70% meat, 15% bone, 15% organ). 5 oz each per day, roughly 10mg/oz is only about 50mg of taurine each by your above calculations (and taking the mean of all the meats)–I’m thinking I should be supplementing? Maybe with nutritional yeast if I can’t find taurine supplements? Help!

  6. Barbara says:

    I buy 1000mg capsules of Taurine at Vitacost.com for my 6 cats and it is on sale right now.
    I am on this site trying to determine which one is best. I open a capsule and sprinkle it on top of their food. It seems to be a real appetite enhancement. I have been using the Jarrow Formulas TAURINE 1000.

  7. Jerry King says:

    NONESENSE! if a cat required 1000mg per 2.2lbs of food, and if a full sized whole chicken (approx 2 lbs) has 9.5 mg per oz, then the cat could NEVER consume enough taurine (9.5 x 32 oz =304mg per chicken!! Sooo, is there some magically enhanced concentration of taurine in something a domestic or feral cat would find in eating common prey, such as lizards and small birds?? I can find no substantiation for this. Where does the high taurine recommendation come from???

  8. Jane says:

    I’ve just found an interesting site devoted to feline nutrition: http://www.feline-nutrition.org

    Just what I need for feeding new cat: aged about 9, wonderful strong white teeth from raw diet since kitten. His tail is a little thin and I’m trying to find a nutrional connection.

  9. Richard Ssuna says:

    Hello Dr

    I have a serval cat that im handraising. Im feeding baby formular. It seems like the eye sight is poor. this could be due to age (not developed yet) but i fear that tuarine def might be the underlying reason. I was thinking of blending some meat and adding in the diet because i can not access tuarine supplements in Lilongwe malawi. What are your thoughts.


  10. Gwen says:

    My female cat *Shalom* is now eating her dinner= raw chicken with taurine in powder, 100mg+ a day, (Country Life 500mg caps) I could even increase the amount. I also add supplements daily to her diet. This female cat is 16,5 years old, has hyperthyroidism.
    Taurine is life saving for cats.

    I give her also a pouch terrine that has per 100g 375mg of taurine. It seems a lot; what do you think out there?
    It’s good to know that other animal lovers have the same concerns about feeding our beloved cats!

  11. Cat Mad says:

    Can you feed to much Taurine.

  12. Gwen says:

    You don’t want to feed too much taurine, although the excess of taurine will be eliminated automatically. I give my older cat a little bit more than I gave her when she was young because of her condition of hyperthyroidism. I cannot today say how much is adequate. But one has to monitor the amount for daily feeding.
    Older cats are more difficult; they are more finicky, and their appetite diminish. But with a lot of love and patience we get them through their lives gently. I luv my cat!

  13. Emily BH says:

    Don’t think that man is smarter than Nature. Mammals can NOT recognize;utilize OR eliminate isolate supplements made by man the way it can the same nutrients in whole food or herbs grown in Nature. Don’t kid yourself into thinking the excess Taurine that is supplemented will be easily eliminated.

    It may require a detox to get it out as so many people are finding they need to do after the medical profession fails them and their lymphatic/immune system system becomes clogged and they become inflamed as a result of the damage done from all the Rx drugs and poor diet.

    I would supplement with Taurine VERY SPARINGLY if at all. If you are feeding raw home prepared meat, poultry or fish, you have nothing to worry about. After all, how many taurine trees do you see growing in your back yard?


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