Taurine For Cats It's Benefits, Sources & Requirements
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Taurine for cats is important as they are unable to produce it on their own. Learn more about benefits & sources of taurine required for cats in their diets.
Taurine is an important component to all IAMS™ cat foods, such as IAMS ProActive Health™ Adult Original with Chicken.
Taurine is an essential amino acid that is critical for normal heart muscle function, vision, and reproduction in kittens. It is also needed to form the bile salts that aid in digestion. Unlike other amino acids, taurine is found as a free amino acid in body tissues such as the heart and eyes, and is not incorporated into proteins.
Most mammals manufacture taurine from other amino acids. However, cats cannot manufacture a sufficient amount and, therefore, must acquire enough additional taurine through diet to meet their needs. In pet food, taurine is naturally found in animal-based protein ingredients and can also be added separately.
Why Does IAMS Add Taurine to Cat Diets?
Taurine is supplemented in IAMS dry and canned cat foods to ensure that we provide optimal levels of this essential nutrient. IAMS wet cat foods are supplemented with taurine because they must contain as much as twice the amount of taurine found in dry food for cats to maintain adequate blood taurine levels. The canning process may affect the complex taurine balance in your cat. Our wet cat foods are supplemented with taurine to meet these higher needs.
IAMS dry cat foods also include taurine as an ingredient to supplement the primary source of this amino acid, which is animal-based protein from sources such as chicken, egg, lamb, and fish. However, these sources can vary in their taurine content, and adding more taurine is a sound approach to ensure optimal taurine levels.
What Are Some Effects of Taurine Deficiency?
Taurine is essential to the proper development and function of cells in the retina of the eye. If insufficient taurine is present, the retinal cells don’t function properly and may die, eventually causing impaired vision and even blindness. This process is referred to as feline central retinal degeneration.
- Heart Disease
Taurine is also necessary for normal function of the heart muscle cells. Taurine deficiency leads to weakening of the heart muscle, which, in turn, can lead to heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal.
Decreased Reproductive Performance and Growth
Taurine is necessary for optimal reproductive and growth performance. Both the queen and kittens must maintain adequate taurine levels during pregnancy, lactation, and growth to ensure proper structural development.
Taurine in IAMS Cat Foods
IAMS cat foods are formulated with high-quality, animal-based proteins as their primary ingredient. In addition, they are supplemented with extra taurine to ensure balanced levels of essential amino acids.
Case L, et al. Canine and Feline Nutrition. 3rd ed. Maryland Heights, MO: Mosby Elsevier, 2011.
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- adp_description_block248Why Antioxidants Are Good For Your Cat
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Antioxidants are good for your cat because they play a key role in minimizing damage to cells, including cells of the immune system.
These important, naturally occurring nutrients help maintain health by slowing the destructive oxidative process of cellular molecules. They also can be important in supporting immune responses and vaccine recognition in cats. This may be especially critical for kittens that are being vaccinated while their immune system is still developing.
Additionally, antioxidants can reverse decreases in immune-cell function for senior cats, increasing them back to healthy adult levels.
Antioxidants in IAMS™ Cat Foods
Antioxidants are nutrients found naturally in the body and in plants such as fruits and vegetables. Common antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E and certain compounds called carotenoids (including lutein and beta-carotene). A blend of several antioxidants in moderate amounts may be more effective than high levels of one antioxidant.
How Antioxidants Work
As cells function normally in the body, they produce damaged molecules called free radicals. These free radicals are highly unstable and steal components from other cellular molecules, such as fat, protein or DNA, thereby spreading the damage.
This damage continues in a chain reaction, and entire cells soon become damaged and die in a process called peroxidation. Peroxidation is useful because it helps the body destroy cells that have outlived their usefulness and kills germs and parasites. However, when left unchecked, peroxidation also destroys or damages healthy cells.
Antioxidants help prevent widespread cellular destruction by willingly donating components to stabilize free radicals. More importantly, antioxidants return to the surface of the cell to stabilize rather than damage other cellular components.
When there are not enough antioxidants to hold peroxidation in check, free radicals begin damaging healthy cells, which can lead to problems. For example, free radical damage to immune cells can lead to an increased risk of infection.
Antioxidants and Your Cat’s Immune Response System
Because antioxidants play a key role in minimizing damage to cells, such as those that make up the immune system, recent research examined the benefits of certain antioxidants on the immune response of cats. The results of these studies indicated that antioxidants are important in helping cats maintain a healthy immune system.
The research also showed that each antioxidant benefits the immune system uniquely, so one antioxidant at high levels is not as effective as a group of antioxidants acting together.
Antioxidant Source Function Vitamin E Plant oil extract, tocopherols Optimizes immune system’s T-cell activation Beta-carotene Vitamin premix, corn meal, chicken by-product meal and chicken fat Optimizes types of cells present in the blood, increases antibody levels
in the blood and optimizes vaccine recognition
Antioxidants and Aging in Cats
Recent research also examined the effect of aging on immune responses. The findings indicate that as cats age, immune cell responses may decline. Including antioxidants in your cat’s diet can help reverse the age-related decrease in immune cell function, returning it to healthy adult levels.
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