Taurine is an important component found in all IAMS™ kitten foods. This essential amino acid 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, kittens 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 also can be added separately.
Why Does IAMS Add Taurine to Kitten Diets?
IAMS kitten foods are formulated with high-quality animal-based proteins as their primary ingredient. In addition, they are supplemented with extra taurine.
We supplement taurine in IAMS dry and canned cat foods to ensure we provide optimal levels of this essential nutrient. IAMS wet kitten foods, such as IAMS™ Perfect Portions™ Healthy Kitten Paté with Chicken, 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 or kitten. Our wet cat foods are supplemented with taurine to meet these higher needs.
IAMS dry kitten foods, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Healthy Kitten, 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.
Effects of Taurine Deficiency
Kittens that eat a diet deficient in taurine can develop several serious health conditions.
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.
Taurine is also necessary for normal function of the heart muscle cells. Taurine deficiency leads to a weakening of the heart muscle, which, in turn, can lead to heart failure. This condition is known as dilated cardiomyopathy and can be fatal.
To help protect your kitten’s health, both now and when she is fully grown, make sure to feed a diet with sufficient taurine. Learn more about the nutritional needs of kittens.
Case L, et al. Canine and Feline Nutrition. 3rd ed. Maryland Heights, MO: Mosby Elsevier, 2011.