10 Best (High Quality) Cat Foods with Taurine in 2020

Even if you don’t know much else about feline nutrition, you probably know that protein is an important part of a cat’s diet. Cats are obligate carnivores (versus dogs who are more akin to omnivores), so they have a biological need for protein in their diet.

Most Popular

Taste Of The Wild Rocky Mountain

  • Digestible & Grain-free
  • Natural sources of taurine

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Best Overall

NomNomNow Cat Food

  • Natural sources of taurine
  • High in protein

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Runner Up Dry

American Journey Turkey

  • Rich in real animal protein
  • Affordable

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As you may remember from middle school science class, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are twenty-two different amino acids cats can use, some of which a cat’s body can synthesize on its own and others it cannot. The proteins your cat can’t synthesize are referred to as essential amino acids and they need to come from your cat’s diet. Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats.

In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of taurine for cats and discuss taurine deficiency, including its symptoms and options for treatment. We’ll also give you a list of our top 10 picks for the best cat food with taurine.

Why is Taurine Important for Cats?


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As we’ve already mentioned, taurine is an essential amino acid for cats. This means that, unlike other amino acids, your cat’s body can’t synthesize taurine on its own and it needs to get it from food. Taurine is only found in animal-based proteins like meat, poultry, and fish. Animal-based proteins are also referred to as “complete” proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids your cat needs, including taurine.

To help you understand the importance of taurine in your cat’s diet, let’s take a moment to review what an amino acid is. As the building blocks of protein, amino acids are organic compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. When your cat consumes protein, its body breaks it down into amino acids which can then be used to support a variety of biological processes including building muscle and regulating immune system function.

In addition to taurine, the other essential amino acids for cats are:

  • Arginine
  • Methionine
  • Histidine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Isoleucine
  • Threonine
  • Leucine
  • Tryptophan
  • Lysine
  • Valine

Taurine is not the only essential amino acid that can only be found in animal proteins – arginine is another. In addition to supporting protein synthesis, taurine plays a role in heart health, vision, reproduction, and digestion. Arginine helps the body remove ammonia which is a waste product of protein digestion and breakdown. If you refer to AAFCO cat food nutrient profiles, you’ll be able to answer the question of what percentage of taurine should be in cat food. For dry food, both kittens and adult cats need at least 0.10% and, in wet food, it should be at least 0.20%.

best cat food with taurine

Addressing Taurine Deficiency in Cats

Because taurine is an essential amino acid for cats, a deficiency can cause serious health problems. Your cat requires plenty of taurine to maintain healthy heart wall muscles – it also plays a role in eye and brain health. Taurine deficiency can lead to a number of serious health issues including blindness, heart problems, and tooth decay.

The challenge with taurine deficiency is that symptoms tend to develop slowly over time. In many cases, the deficiency isn’t diagnosed until the cat starts showing symptoms of a related complication. If you or your veterinarian suspect that your cat has a taurine deficiency, it can be diagnosed with blood tests, chest x-rays, and eye examinations. Depending on the severity of the deficiency and the related health problems, a variety of treatment options are available.

Some of the other symptoms of taurine deficiency include:

  • Retinal degeneration
  • Weakened heart muscles
  • Sudden death from heart issues (like dilated cardiomyopathy)
  • Digestive problems
  • Fetal abnormalities in kittens
  • Small litter sizes and low birth weights
  • Delayed development in kittens

Treating a taurine deficiency in cats usually begins with treating the underlying symptoms. If caught early enough, dilated cardiomyopathy can be reversed with dietary supplementation. Retinal degeneration, on the other hand, can lead to irreversible blindness if left untreated for too long. Once the cat’s condition has stabilized, you can start supplementing with taurine to prevent the problems from coming back. Depending on the severity of the deficiency and related complications, your cat may require ongoing supplementation for life.

By now it should be obvious that taurine is an essential nutrient for cats. But how do you know if a cat food contains adequate taurine and which brands can you trust? Below you’ll find our picks for the top 10 foods highest in taurine for cats. Before we get there, however, read on to see how we make our product recommendations.

How Do We Make Our Recommendations?

Cat food brands are a dime a dozen, so it can be overwhelming for first-time cat owners to make a choice. Many people make the mistake of shopping by price alone which is something we strongly recommend against. Though more expensive cat foods are not guaranteed to be higher in quality, you can pretty much assume that a cheap cat food won’t be any good.

To help you make a smart and healthy choice for your cat, we’ve taken a look at the reviews and have put the top brands on the market through our own review process to bring you our top picks.

Here are some things we look for in a good cat food brand:

  • A source of high-quality animal protein as the first ingredient
  • At least 30% crude protein for kittens and at least 26% for adults
  • A minimum of 9% crude fat for kittens and adults
  • A balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, primarily from animal sources
  • A rich blend of nutrients from natural sources and supplements, as needed
  • Limited carbohydrate content from digestible sources (like whole grains and veggies)
  • No low-quality fillers, by-products, or artificial additives (preservatives, dyes, or flavors)
Remember, these are the general qualifications we look for in a recommended brand. If your cat suffers from a specific health problem (like taurine deficiency), you’ll need to do some research on your own or talk to your veterinarian for more personalized recommendations. Now read on to see our recommendations for the best taurine for cats in dry and wet food formulas.

The 10 Best Taurine Cat Foods

Now that you have a better understanding of what taurine is and why it is important for cats, you’re ready to start shopping! If you’re still not quite sure what you’re looking for, check out our picks for the top 10 foods highest in taurine for cats.

Here’s our top pick for the best taurine cat food:

NomNomNow Fresh Cat Food

Many pet parents who are concerned about their cat’s health consider switching to a raw cat food diet. Raw cat food is perhaps the closest to a cat’s natural evolutionary diet, but there are many challenges associated with this type of diet. On top of the issue of keeping the food fresh and the risk of transmitting food-borne illness, raw food diets for cats are very expensive. If you want your cat to enjoy a diet with similar quality to raw food, consider NomNomNow.

NomNomNow is a fresh pet food delivery service that sends pre-portioned packages of fresh pet food to your door. You simply fill out some basic information about your cat’s age, weight, and activity level and you’ll be sent packages of fresh cat food with specific feeding instructions to meet your cat’s individual calorie and nutrient needs. NomNomNow currently only offers two recipes for cats, but both list a taurine-rich source of animal protein as the first ingredient – chicken or fish. If you take a closer look at the ingredients lists, you also see a taurine supplement listed. The company doesn’t provide specific information about the taurine content of their foods, but both recipes are considered complete and balanced according to AAFCO cat food nutrient profiles for all life stages.

  • Pros: Rich in natural sources of taurine, high in protein, fresh food delivered to your door, customized to your cat’s nutrient/calorie needs, highly palatable and easy to digest
  • Cons: Significantly more expensive than dry food, only two recipes to choose from

Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food

Most Popular Cat Food with Taurine: There are a wide variety of options out there when it comes to cat food, so it may be difficult to choose just one. If you’re having a hard time making a choice, you might consider going with a popular brand that many other cat owners are quite happy with. Taste of the Wild uses premium roasted meats in their grain-free recipes and focuses on high-quality nutrition and maximum meat flavor. This Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Food is a great choice because it features real chicken as the first ingredient with roasted venison and smoked salmon for supplemental protein sources. This recipe also contains digestible grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes with plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, it is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and both prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion.

  • Pros: Made with real roasted meats, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in natural antioxidants, blend of omega fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics for digestion, added taurine
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea and potato proteins)

American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Food

Most Affordable Cat Food with Taurine: When shopping for cat food, you’ll notice that there is a great disparity in pricing. Bottom-shelf cat food is cheap because it uses low-quality ingredients and fillers. Top-shelf cat food uses high-quality ingredients like real animal protein and whole grains. If you want a quality diet for your cat but don’t want to spend a fortune, this American Journey Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Food is an excellent compromise. It is affordably priced but features real animal proteins like fresh turkey and chicken as well as both chicken and turkey meal. It contains digestible grain-free carbohydrates and natural sources for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This recipe also contains fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key nutrients but is still fortified to ensure complete and balanced nutrition. You’ll also be glad to know it contains added taurine and probiotics for digestion.

  • Pros: Affordable price tag, rich in real animal protein, natural sources of taurine, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated mineral supplements, added taurine
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe

Best Cat Food with Taurine for Sensitive Stomach: Adequate taurine levels play a role in your cat’s digestion, so if he’s not getting enough taurine it might be causing digestive issues. Even if your cat does get enough taurine, however, sensitive stomach is still a fairly common issue in cats. If you’re looking for a cat food formulated specifically with this issue in mind (in addition to adequate taurine content), consider Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Chicken Recipe Dry Food. This formula features fresh chicken as the main ingredient, followed by chicken meal. Chicken meal is simply fresh chicken cooked down to remove moisture which makes it a more concentrated source of protein – it is also a natural source of taurine. This recipe includes digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like brown rice, oatmeal, and barley as well as an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to supplemental taurine, this recipe also contains prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes to support your cat’s sensitive stomach.

  • Pros: Formulated for sensitive stomach, rich in animal protein and natural taurine, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, prebiotics and probiotics for digestion, supplemented with taurine
  • Cons: Some cats are sensitive to chicken ingredients, contains some plant protein (pea protein)

6 More Top-Rated Cat Foods with Taurine

If the four recipes above don’t seem like the right fit for your cat, don’t worry – there are many other options. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 foods highest in taurine for cats, so check out our remaining six choices reviewed below!

Fussie Cat Premium Tuna with Salmon Formula Canned Food

Because cats are obligate carnivores, they require a very meat-heavy diet. Wet cat food tends to be higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than dry food and this Fussie Cat Premium Tuna with Salmon Formula canned food is a good option. This recipe features fresh tuna as the first ingredient and contains fresh salmon as a supplemental source of protein. Both of these proteins are naturally rich in taurine and they provide plenty of omega-3 fatty acids as well. You’ll also find sunflower seed oil listed which is a source of omega-6 fatty acids, helping to balance out those omega-3s. Aside from the tuna, salmon, and sunflower seed oil this recipes contains little else than supplements – it contains no carbohydrate ingredients aside from locust bean gum and guar gum used as thickeners.

  • Pros: High in protein and low in carbohydrates, fresh tuna first ingredient, tuna and salmon rich in taurine, supplemented with chelated minerals and taurine
  • Cons: Contains some thickeners (guar gum), main source of fat is plant-based (sunflower seed oil)

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Food

Fresh cat food offers excellent nutritional quality, but it can be a hassle to deal with at times. If you’re looking for a slightly more convenient alternative, consider dehydrated food. The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Food comes in a box and all you have to do is scoop the desired amount then stir in water to rehydrate the food. This recipe contains 70% free-range chicken which is a natural source of taurine for cats. It also contains human-grade ingredients like fresh fruits and vegetables which provide a natural source for key vitamins and minerals. You’ll find that this recipe is made without by-products, grains, or low-quality fillers and it is complete and balanced for adult cats of all breeds and sizes. Because it is highly concentrated in its dehydrated form, this food delivers 39% protein, 28% fat, and 2.5% fiber.

  • Pros: Dehydrated not cooked at high temperatures, human-grade ingredients, protein- and taurine-rich chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables, supplemented with taurine
  • Cons: Significantly more expensive than average kibble, some cats dislike the texture

BFF OMG Rainbow-a-Gogo Variety Pack Wet Food

If you’re looking for a high-quality cat food that won’t break the bank, another great option is this BFF OMG Rainbow-a-Gogo Variety Pack. Affordably priced under $0.50/ounce, this variety pack includes six different flavors made with wild-caught tuna. Each recipe starts with tuna broth followed by fresh tuna. It isn’t a problem that broth is listed as the first ingredient because this is a wet food product and that is fairly common, considering ingredients are listed in order by weight. Fresh tuna is a rich source of animal-based protein and a natural source of taurine as well. You’ll be glad to know, however, that these recipes also contain supplemental taurine. On average, these wet foods contain 60% crude protein calculated as dry matter and 9% crude fat. These recipes are very high in protein and low in carbohydrates while also delivering the moisture and balanced nutrition your cat needs.

  • Pros: Variety pack with 6 flavors, protein-rich tuna as main ingredient, rich in omega fatty acids, supplemented with chelated minerals, contains supplemental taurine
  • Cons: Could be higher in fat, contains some thickeners (guar gum)

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Food

Protein is the most important of a cat’s diet and the Blue Buffalo Wilderness line of products is designed to be high in protein. This Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Food is a great option because it is healthy and holistic, featuring fresh deboned chicken as the first ingredient and chicken meal as the second. This grain-free recipe contains digestible carbohydrates like tapioca starch and peas, plus an assortment of fresh fruits and veggies which provide natural sources for key vitamins and minerals. This recipe is rich in healthy fats from menhaden fish meal, chicken fat, and ground flaxseed, providing a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. You’ll also find that it contains a number of beneficial supplements including vitamins, chelated minerals, probiotics and, of course, a healthy dose of supplemental taurine.

  • Pros: Fresh chicken first ingredient, digestible carbohydrates, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals and probiotic supplements, added taurine
  • Cons: Plant protein as a main ingredient (pea protein), may be too high in fiber for some cats

Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Recipe Dry Food

A holistic cat food is designed to nourish your cat’s body with premium-quality ingredients to support whole-body health and wellness. This Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Recipe Dry Food does just that. It features fresh salmon and whitefish as the top two ingredients with digestible whole-grain carbohydrates like oatmeal and barley. This recipe is rich in healthy fats from chicken fat and flaxseed, providing a rich blend of omega-3s and omega-6s. You’ll also find that this recipe contains dried fruits and vegetables which provide natural sources of key vitamins and minerals, though there are also vitamin supplements and chelated minerals included. This recipe also contains added taurine to supplement the numerous animal proteins that add natural sources of this amino acid.

  • Pros: High-protein fish ingredients, digestible whole-grain carbohydrates, healthy blend of omega fatty acids, dried fruits and vegetables, chelated mineral supplements, added taurine
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (peas and soy protein concentrate) , may be too high in fiber for some cats

Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entrée Canned Food

Balanced nutrition is essential for keeping your cat healthy and happy for many years to come. We recommend this Wellness Complete Health Pate Chicken Entrée Canned Food because it is formulated to nourish your cat’s whole body from the inside out. This recipe delivers protein-rich nutrition to support strong muscles and healthy energy with plenty of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat. It is 100% grain-free for digestibility and features fresh chicken as the first ingredient. This recipe also contains a variety of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables which act as natural sources for key vitamins and minerals. You’ll also be glad to know that this recipe is supplemented with chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and does contain supplemental taurine.

  • Pros: Real chicken first ingredient, formulated for complete health, highly palatable and digestible, fresh fruits and vegetables, antioxidant-rich cranberries, blend of omega fatty acids, supplemental taurine
  • Cons: Contains some thickeners (guar gum), main source of fat is plant-based (flaxseed)

Frequently Asked Questions

How much taurine do cats need? – It is difficult to say how much taurine cats actually need because even a small amount may be enough to prevent a deficiency. Another problem is that most cat food brands don’t list taurine content in their guaranteed analyses. It is generally safe to assume, however, that if a cat food meets the requirements set by AAFCO cat food nutrient profiles, the taurine content will be sufficient to avoid a deficiency.

What foods are high in taurine for cats? – Taurine is an amino acid which means that it can only be found in protein sources. More specifically, taurine is only found in animal-based proteins such as meat, poultry, and fish. The foods with the highest levels of taurine are dark meat, organ meats, and seafood.

Can you give a cat too much taurine? – Taurine is a natural compound found in animal-based sources of protein. Low levels of taurine have been linked to severe health problems but there are no known causes of toxicity from a cat consuming too much taurine. You might even give your cat a taurine supplement if he is deficient. In short, the answer is no – commercial cat foods are unlikely to have to much taurine for cats.

Do all cat foods have taurine? – Because taurine is an essential amino acid (one your cat’s body can’t synthesize on its own), it is considered a requirement for balanced nutrition. AAFCO food nutrient profiles were developed based on a cat’s nutritional requirements, so it is safe to assume that any cat food considered complete and balanced by AAFCO probably contains taurine. Taurine levels do vary, however, and foods made with a higher concentration of animal protein are likely to have higher taurine levels than a product made with plant-based proteins. If you’re wondering what percentage of taurine should be in cat food, AAFCO recommends 0.10% for dry cat food and 0.20% for wet cat food.

What are the symptoms of taurine deficiency in cats? – Taurine deficiency tends to develop slowly over time, so you may not notice any symptoms until the underlying conditions become severe enough to manifest. Here are some of the symptoms to look for:

  • Retinal degeneration
  • Weakened heart muscles
  • Sudden death from heart issues (like dilated cardiomyopathy)
  • Digestive problems
  • Fetal abnormalities in kittens
  • Small litter sizes and low birth weights
  • Delayed development in kittens

The severity of your cat’s symptoms is related to the severity of the deficiency and how long it has gone untreated. Dilated cardiomyopathy is treatable with dietary intervention if caught early, but retinal degeneration may lead to permanent blindness without prompt treatment.

How do you treat taurine deficiency in cats? – Treating a taurine deficiency in cats can be a long-term process. It starts with addressing the underlying symptoms caused by low taurine levels. Heart problems, eye problems, and digestive issues are common complications of taurine deficiency, so your vet will want to treat the related symptoms for these issues first. Once your cat’s condition has stabilized, taurine supplementation is the next step. This usually involves switching to a new cat food with higher taurine levels or supplementing your cat’s diet with meat as a natural source of taurine.

Now that you understand the importance of taurine in your cat’s diet, you may be thinking about switching his cat food. Take what you’ve learned here to make an educated decision for your cat or simply try one of our top 10 recommendations above. Good luck!

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