How To Recognise Taurine Deficiencies In Kittens

It goes without saying that sharing a home with a kitten is a lot fun because these little guys can be highly entertaining characters. However, you have to be prepared for a lot of training which includes teaching your new pet to use a litter tray and not to be “dirty” around the house. Taking on a new kitten is a massive responsibility and one that should never be taken too lightly.

Kittens learn so much during the first few weeks and months of their lives, and if all goes well, it stands them in good stead for when they are mature, adult cats helping them become more confident about most things they encounter in their environment. Sharing a home with a kitten means knowing what to feed them so they stay nice and healthy, so they build strong bones and develop normally.

Feeding Top Quality Food is a Must

You have to feed all cats top quality commercially produced cat food, but it's even more important when they are kittens when they still have a lot of growing to do. Most good quality commercial cat food contains acceptable levels of taurine, however, if you decide to feed your kitten a home-made diet, you have to make sure there is enough of this essential amino acid in it otherwise it could affect their overall health and well-being.

Why Do Kittens Need Taurine?

Kittens and cats need taurine in their diet because it is an essential amino acid that keeps them healthy and they cannot store it in their bodies for very long. As a result they need to be fed taurine on a daily basis. The good news is that taurine is contained in most meats but not in vegetables. A very good source of taurine can be found in heart and liver so if you are feeding your kitten a home-made diet, it's a good idea to include either of these in their food. In the wild, cats kill rodents and get all the taurine they need from eating them.

Commercially Produced Dry and Wet Cat Food

Over recent years pet food manufacturers have done a lot of research into the dietary needs of our feline friends and now most of the well-known brands contain acceptable levels of taurine. However, lower quality cat food often doesn't have enough of this essential amino acid in them which can cause all sorts of health issues to your kitty which could end up with an expensive trip to the vet. In short, feeding low quality food to your kitten could prove not only to be dangerous for their health, but it could work out to be a very costly false economy.


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Home-made Diets

It's perfectly okay to feed your kitty a home-made diet as long as you make sure it contains the right level of taurine in it. Raw meats contain more of this essential amino acid than cooked meat and as previously mentioned both liver and heart are very good sources with the good news being that cats tend to really like the taste of both these raw meats.

Recognising Taurine Deficiencies

The effects of not having enough taurine in the diet can be extremely dramatic and could include your kitten's sight being affected. In a worst case scenario, they may even go blind, the reason being that when kittens don't eat enough taurine it causes their retinas to degenerate which seriously impacts their vision. Other signs of deficiencies include:

  • Bones do not develop properly
  • A kitten's growth could be stunted
  • They might develop cardiomyopathy
  • Kittens might develop heart dis
  • A loss of hair
  • Loss of teeth

If symptoms are noticed in time, you can reverse the effects of a taurine deficiency by supplementing a kitten's diet with taurine and making sure they are fed a good quality cat food that contains acceptable levels of this essential amino acid. However, if you leave it for too long, things cannot be reversed and your kitten's development would have been seriously and negatively impacted.

If you are concerned and need any sort of advice, you should discuss your kitten’s dietary needs with the vet who vaccinates and treats them. They would be in the best position to examine your pet to assess their overall well-being and to offer advice on whether you should be supplementing their diet with any extra taurine or not.

Conclusion

Sharing a home with a kitten is lots of fun, but it’s a huge responsibility too. You need to take care of your new pet and offer them a safe, loving environment where they feel happy and secure. All cats need to be fed a good quality well-balanced diet which is especially true when they are kittens and still have a lot of growing to do. Kittens need to be fed a diet that’s rich in taurine, an essential amino acid they cannot store for long in the bodies. If they don’t get enough, it can seriously impact their overall health and well-being.

Maternal Taurine Levels

A pregnant cat that doesn't consume sufficient amounts of taurine might inadvertently abort her fetuses. If they survive, they're likely to suffer from deformities or die soon after birth. The taurine-deficient mother cat might have a small litter, one of only one or two kittens; such kittens are usually born quite small. If you're feeding a mother cat, ask your vet about special diets for pregnant felines containing additional taurin


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