light and dark brown striped cat eating cat food with sodium on kitchen counter out of silver bowl
light and dark brown striped cat eating cat food with sodium on kitchen counter out of silver bowl

How Sodium Is Used in Our Cat Foods

Why should cat food have sodium in it? Sodium content in cat food has an important nutritional and dietary function, just like it does in your food! But it’s important to understand just what it does and how much of it is healthy. That way you can make the best possible decisions about what to feed your cat.


What Is Sodium? Why Is Sodium Important for Cats?

Sodium is an essential mineral for life. Inside the body it is found in the blood and in the fluid that surrounds cells. Sodium itself helps ensure proper nerve and muscle cell functions, maintains a healthy cellular environment and prevents cells from swelling or dehydrating. The sodium levels in IAMS™ cat foods are balanced with other minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins and carbohydrates. That way you can be sure your cat is getting enough for their health.


Where Does Sodium Content in Cat Food Come from? 

Meat, poultry, fish and eggs are all good natural sources of sodium, and are the primary ingredients in all IAMS™ cat foods including IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Healthy Adult with Chicken and IAMS™ PROACTIVE HEALTH™ Healthy Adult with Salmon.


Sodium may also be included in commercial cat foods in the form of ordinary table salt. Salt is an important ingredient in making food more palatable for animals, as well as for people.


How Much Sodium Can Cats Have Per Day? 

The Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends that dry cat foods contain at least a minimum of 0.2%1 sodium — 0.2% of dry matter your cat eats, or 0.5 grams per 1,000 kcal — for maintenance and to support normal growth and development. While higher sodium intake may cause increased thirst, water consumption and urination, excess sodium is passed in the urine.


Why Would a Vet Recommend More or Less Sodium? 

A veterinarian may recommend changing your cat’s sodium intake to help decrease high blood pressure, eliminate excessive body fluid or as a precaution if kidney, liver or heart heath is a concern. You can keep track of your cat’s overall wellbeing at home if you regularly check their C.A.T.S. — Coat, Appetite, Temperament and Size — for any changes that might lead to questions for the vet.

Healthy cats of all ages don’t normally require a low- or reduced-sodium diet, so be sure to talk to your vet about any sodium concerns you may have before making a change.




Cats’ bodies work differently from our own, and learning to care for them is a process! What your cat eats impacts everything from their energy levels to their mood to the health of their skin and coat. By understanding what healthy cats and kittens need from their food, like sodium, antioxidants, fiber and more, you’re better able to give your cat a diet that helps them thrive.

  • gray and white kitten licking lips ready to eat healthy cat food containing taurine
    gray and white kitten licking lips ready to eat healthy cat food containing taurine

    The Importance of Taurine in Kitten and Cat Food

    Taurine is an important component found in all IAMS™ kitten and cat foods. This important amino acid is essential for cats of all ages, and critical for healthy development, normal heart muscle function, vision and reproduction. It even aids 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, but cats and kittens need more than their bodies can produce and rely on their food to make up the difference. Pet food’s animal-based protein ingredients are natural taurine sources, and the amino acid can also be added to pet food recipes on its own.


    Why Does IAMS™ Add Taurine to Kitten and Cat Food? 

    All IAMS™ kitten and cat foods are formulated with high-quality animal-based proteins that are naturally rich in taurine as their primary ingredient. So why supplement these foods with additional taurine? Two reasons: natural variability and the production process.


    IAMS™ Dry Cat Food: The Natural Variability 

    IAMS™ dry cat and kitten foods include taurine to supplement each food’s primary source of the amino acid — an animal-based protein like chicken, egg, lamb or fish. These natural sources naturally vary in their nutrient content, so adding supplemental taurine helps ensure your cat or kitten is getting enough in their diet every day.


    IAMS™ Wet Cat Food: The Production Process 

    For wet food, the canning process itself may affect the complex taurine balance of the food. That means IAMS™ wet cat foods must contain more taurine, as much as twice the taurine found in dry food, to ensure cats are getting enough.


    black kitten and white kitten laying on each other under a blanket, relaxed and full on healthy cat food containing taurine


    Symptoms of Taurine Deficiency in Cats and Kittens

    Cats and kittens need their taurine! Kittens need taurine for healthy growth and development, and adult cats that don’t get enough taurine can develop serious health conditions. Low levels of taurine put your pet at risk for preventable health conditions that can become serious over time.


    Impaired Vision and Blindness 

    Taurine is essential to the proper development and ongoing health of feline eyes, particularly the retinas. Without enough taurine, retinal cells can’t function properly and may die, which can cause impaired vision and even blindness (a process called feline central retinal degeneration).


    Heart Disease 

    Taurine plays a key role in supporting cardiovascular health, too. A lack of taurine weakens 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 

    Optimal reproductive health and growth also rely on taurine to complete a number of important health processes. Maintaining adequate levels during pregnancy, nursing and early growth helps ensure proper structural development for kittens and wellness for the mother.



    Feeding your pet well is an important part of taking care of them. Learning the importance of ingredients like taurine is one way you can ensure you’re giving them exactly what their body needs. By giving your kitten a healthy start and understanding  their nutritional needs, you’re giving them the best shot at a long, healthy and happy future. Your cat would thank you if they could!

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