Taurine deficiency is a condition that occurs in cats when they are not receiving sufficient amounts of taurine in their diet. As taurine is needed for digestion, cardiac, immune, and eye functions, a deficiency in this essential nutrient can cause numerous health conditions to occur in cats.
Causes of Taurine Deficiency
Unlike most other mammals, cats cannot produce the amount of taurine their body needs using building blocks from other dietary nutrients. Instead, cats must obtain this nutrient directly from their diet. As taurine has been added to commercial cat foods since the 1970's, taurine deficiency is now usually only diagnosed in cats which are fed diets consisting of home cooked meals or dog food.
Cats in the wild, or stray cats, usually do not develop taurine deficiency because they are able to obtain the nutrient from eating smaller mammals.
Symptoms of Taurine Deficiency in Cat
Symptoms of taurine deficiency in cats include effects on the eyes, heart, oral health, and hair. Most of the effects can be reversed with taurine supplementation, but in some severe cases irreversible blindness and heart damage may occur.
Diagnosing Taurine Deficiency
Taurine deficiency is usually diagnosed based on the pet's history, diagnostic tests which exclude other causes of the symptoms, and response to taurine supplementation.
Outlook for Cats with Taurine Deficiency
The outlook for taurine deficiency is usually excellent as long as the condition was treated in a timely manner. While irreversible blindness may occur from this condition, cats can still lead a long and healthy life after they have been successfully treated for taurine deficiency. Once cats are fed the proper diet, this condition will not return.