Taurine is a Sulphur amino acid that is one of the 11 essential amino acid for cats, this means they need to obtain from directly from their food as they cannot make them in the body themselves, dogs can produce their own Taurine when there is adequate cysteine and methionine in the diet. Taurine is key in maintaining a healthy feline heart and vision, deficiency can lead to dilated cardiomyopathy and retinal degeneration. Taurine is affected by cooking, processing such as mincing and rendering, freezing and through moisture loss as taurine is water soluble, losses can be up to 100% depending on the type and level of processing used.
In the 1970’s it was found that cats were developing Dilated cardiomyopathy from a lack of Taurine in processed commercial diets, thus it was decided that all commercial cat foods must be supplemented with Taurine as it is so easily lost through processing. Studies have also shown that minced/ground raw rabbit was also subject to Taurine loss, enough to cause deficiency.
When we are providing a raw diet to our cats we do need to consider how we are supplying Taurine, many foods have adequate to high levels of Taurine from muscle meats, organs and seafoods, but we must take steps in order to preserve that Taurine.
·Avoid the use of too many minced/ground meats, whole chunks of meat preserve nutrients better and reduce oxidation. Meat can be thawed in whole chunks and diced at the time of serving, encourage your cats to consume food in chunks that require chewing, not only does it better preserve nutrients it is very enriching too.
·Ensure to include the myoglobin, this is the bloody meat juices. Myoglobin is rich in nutrients and as Taurine is water soluble it can be lost in this nourishing fluid if not added back into the meal.
Try to use meats as quickly as possible, avoid storing frozen meats and organs for longer than three months, less if minced/ground.
According to NRC cats and kittens should be consuming 0.1 grams of Taurine per 1000kcal of food, for an average cat consuming 300kcal of food per day this would be 0.03g (30mg) of Taurine.
What fresh wholefoods are richest in Taurine?
·Turkey – Dark Meats: 3060mg/kg
·Chicken – Dark Meat: 1690mg/kg
·Beef Tongue muscle – 1760mg/kg
Pork Loin - 496mg/kg
Chicken Hearts and Liver – 1179mg/kg
Duck Leg Meat 1780mg/kg
Beef Lung 956mg/kg
Atlantic Salmon: 1300mg/kg
Mussels – 6550mg/kg
Providing we are aiming to preserve as much Taurine as possible it is not overly difficult to meet our cats Taurine needs with fresh wholefoods when we are selecting Taurine rich foods to be consumed on a daily basis, if however we are using mostly ground/mined meats and/or meals that are being frozen for longer periods of time then supplementation may be needed long term.
Taurine Concentrations in animal feed ingredients - Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California
Taurine deficiency syndrome in cats- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2658282/
Impact of processing on the taurine content in processed seafood and their corresponding unprocessed raw materials- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18608559/
Rabbit Carcasses for Use in Feline Diets: Amino Acid Concentrations in Fresh and Frozen Carcasses With and Without Gastrointestinal Tracts- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7859488/
National Research Council, Nutrient Requirements for Cats & Dogs 2006.