Domestic cats can only get their taurine through eating animal proteins. True or false?

My favourite author, Dr. Desmond Morris, in his book Catlore, states that cats cannot survive on a vegetarian diet and one reason for that statement is that cats “can only obtain [taurine] by eating animal proteins” i.e. flesh. And without taurine a domestic cat will become blind. Early disclaimer: I am not for or against any type of cat food. I am for trying to get things right. Please read the entire article before commenting if that is what want to do.

Taurine requirement for wet and dry cat food
Taurine requirement for wet and dry cat food. Image: PoC from AAFCO PDF file.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I researched the matter. This is because I don’t believe that the great man himself is correct. Although he did write his book many years ago and it was published in 1987. Things have changed. We know more these days.

In fact, you can buy vegetarian cat food. A lot of people are up in arms about that but they are wrong. That’s because you can supplement vegetarian foods with taurine and any other vital ingredient. I guess this is synthetic taurine but it is as good as the real thing.

Taurine. Symbolic representation of taurine.

And on the website, a member of that site states that commercially prepared cat food containing meats loses its taurine content during the manufacturing process. It has to be added back artificially. This is what he said:

Well, turns out that the way animal bodies are processed for petfood leads to taurine, among other things, being lost along the way, and petfood manufacturers generally have to add it back in at the end. That’s right: your meat-based cat food is based on supplemental nutrients, not nutrients inherent in the animal-derived product. A quick bit of googling throws up several resources that seem to confirm this.

He researched the matter. If this is true and I believe that it is, it totally undermines any argument about cats needing to eat meat to obtain the taurine that they require. These days, commercial enterprises can create synthetic taurine and it can be added to any product including cat food made from plant-based proteins.

Vegetarian cat food
Vegetarian cat food. The question is: can cat lovers find this acceptable? Most cat lovers think that a vegan cat diet is totally unacceptable even if it does contain the required nutrients. Photo: PoC.

The fact of the matter is that if you can buy commercially prepared cat food based on plants (and you can), it must be acceptable because there are so many regulations in the West about pet food. If this vegetarian petfood was not acceptable it wouldn’t be saleable. The manufacturer would be stamped on by the regulatory authorities and shutdown.

Conclusion: nowadays domestic cat can get their taurine in supplements. They don’t need to rely on animal flesh to obtain this critical ingredient so vital to their health and welfare. It can be added in.

RELATED: A vegetarian cat? No. But manufactured vegetarian cat food containing all the necessary nutrients. Yes.

Important caveat: I am NOT saying that cat owners can give their cat a vegetarian diet made up by themselves. That would harm their cat quite quickly. If you want to give your cat a vegetarian diet then it must be of the type pictured above with all the right ingredients and nutrients added. That’s essential. Don’t misinterpret this article please.

Vegan cat food
Photo: Fair use.

2 thoughts on “Domestic cats can only get their taurine through eating animal proteins. True or false?”

  1. Glad to see your are recognizing genuine vegetarian options for cats – I used Feringa fish cat biscuits and tinned tuna in spring water


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