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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Confused by the ingredient list on your kitten’s food? You’re not alone. Marketing pet foods that have “human-grade ingredients” is becoming commonplace. While appealing to many pet owners, it is important to be aware that the term “human grade” has no legal definition and is used primarily for marketing purposes.
Foods, typically meats, are labeled either as “edible” or “inedible, not for human consumption.” Once a food leaves the human food chain, even if it is of outstanding quality, it has to be labeled “inedible, not for human consumption.” Therefore, meats used in pet food must be labeled as “inedible,” regardless of the source or quality of the meat. The only way to make a pet food with ingredients deemed “edible” is to never let the meat leave the human food chain and actually manufacture the pet food in a human food facility and transport it using human food trucks. Therefore, advertising a product as containing “human-grade ingredients” is untrue if it is not manufactured in a human food facility. However, just because a pet food isn’t marketed as being “human grade” does not mean that the ingredients are poor quality.
Here are some tips to help understand ingredient labels:
- The ingredient list is not the only method you should use to select a pet food, because it doesn’t provide pet owners with enough information about the quality of the ingredients or the nutritional adequacy of the overall diet.
- Instead of concentrating on ingredients, pet owners and veterinarians should look at the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement and the quality control protocols of the manufacturer. For more information, see the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s brochure “Selecting the Best Food for your Pet,” available at
Opens a new windowwww.wsava.org/nutrition-toolkit.
- The ingredient list may be arranged to make foods as appealing as possible to consumers by the order of the ingredients (e.g., having lamb first on the ingredient list) or inclusion of seemingly desirable ingredients in the diet, but often in such small amounts that they have little or no nutritional benefits (e.g., artichokes and raspberries listed after the vitamin and mineral supplements).
- Having more ingredients does not make a diet more nutritious.
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