How much Taurine Should I add to a Raw Meat Diet?

By Margaret Gates

Question: How much taurine should there be in the raw frozen diets? The brand I have says each patty contains 0.06%. Another brand I have says their chicken variety has 0.064% and the rabbit only 0.04%. Both companies claim to be providing complete and balanced diets in their raw formulas. It’s so hard to know. I would really rather avoid adding supplements if I can help it.
 
There is no “precise” feline requirement for taurine, as many factors influence requirement levels. These include protein source, dietary fiber levels, food processing, sulfur-containing amino acid content and the metabolic needs of the individual cat.¹ Recommended ranges for an average cat fall between 35 and 250 mg a day.² The AAFCO lists .2% as the minimum for canned/wet foods (dry matter percentage), so here are some calculations: ³
 
The first brand you mentioned lists the taurine content of .06% on an “as fed” basis, not on a dry matter basis, so we have to convert. The moisture content is 70%, so dry matter is 30%. So, .06 divided by 30 = .002 or .2%, exactly the required minimum.
 
To measure in ounces, we convert again: 1 oz = 28.35 grams, 28.35 x .2% = .0567gr or 56.7 mg. So there is about 56.7 mg of taurine per ounce of food. Multiply that by how many ounces you feed a day to get your total. An average cat would probably eat about four ounces of food a day, so the daily taurine intake would be over 200 mg.

Both grinding and freezing reduce available taurine, but by how much is not clear. That is why I add supplemental taurine when making homemade or supplementing pre-ground meat/bone/organ mixes. Taurine is not toxic in cats and is water-soluble, so any extra the cat can’t use just gets flushed out in their urine.⁴ I would rather add some extra taurine to the food and have a cat with expensive pee than risk a taurine deficiency which could lead to serious heart problems or death.
 
  1. Claudia A. Kirk, Jacques Debraekeleer and P. Jane Armstrong, “Normal Cats,” Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th ed. Walsworth Publishing Company, 2000, 301-302.
  James G. Morris, “Idiosyncratic Nutrient Requirements of Cats Appear to be Diet-induced Evolutionary Adaptations,” Nutrition Research Reviews 15, 2002, 153-168.
  2. I. H. Burger, K. C. Barnett, “The Taurine Requirement of the Adult Cat,” Journal of Small Animal Practice 23, no. 9, April 10, 2008, 533-537.
  3. AAFCO Nutrient Requirements for Cats Table 47, The Merck Veterinary Manual, 2008.
  4. U.S. National Research Council Ad Hoc Committee on Dog and Cat Nutrition, Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, 2006, 137.

Margaret Gates is the founder of the Feline Nutrition Foundation. If you would like to learn more about feline diet and health, please visit FelineNutritionFoundation.org. We have a wealth of information on how to feed your cat a healthy, bio-appropriate diet. We especially welcome raw diet beginners!