Many readers have reported being disturbed by news reports about cats that suffered will effects from a deficiency of the chemical compound taurine in their food.
Taurine insufficiency has been proved to cause blindness in felines and, according to a study at the University of California at Davis, a serious heart ailment, dilated cardiomyopathy. Scientists at UC now are testing to see whether taurine deficiency could cause reproductive difficulties.
When major cat-food producers were informed of the life-threatening ailments caused by low taurine levels, many increased the amount of the substance in their formulas. The problem was that the U.S. government standard for this component in feline diets had been too low. Major companies corrected the deficiency as early as March, said veterinarian John L. Mara of Hill’s Pet Products.
It should be noted, however, that some generic and off-brand cat foods may continue to lack sufficient taurine and that the dates on which companies began to comply with the new requirements may have varied.
I was shocked to find that some news reports advised readers to correct the deficiency by feeding tuna to their cats. Animal-nutrition experts have warned for some years that it can be dangerous to feed tuna to felines. I asked veterinarian Susan McDonough of the Cat Hospital of Philadelphia, an authority on cats, to comment on the matter.