Diabetes in Pets

Taurine is a beta-amino acid and is particularly important for cats. Cats are not able to synthesize this amino acid in sufficient quantities and are therefore required to take it up in their food. In healthy cats, a diet deficient in taurine leads to a number of serious clinical problems including retinal degeneration, dilated cardiomyopathy, platelet aggregation, reproductive failure and growth retardation, dysfunction of the central nervous system and impaired immune functioning. Prolonged deficiency over a period of several months or even years is required before clinical symptoms appear in most healthy cats.

Supplementing a diabetic cat's diet with taurine would seem to be beneficial, for reasons described in the articles referenced below.

Here the most important points:

  • Supporting kidney function with taurine: kidney cells do not require insulin to take up glucose. The high plasma glucose levels caused by diabetes result in high intracellular levels of glucose. Via a chain of events this leads to a decrease in the taurine quantity in kidney cells. Organic osmolytes - such as taurine - play an important role in the regulation of cell volume.
  • The clinical state of diabetes is often accompanied by elevated blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and free fatty acids. Taurine is important for the formation of bile acids. The formation of bile acids represents the most important route for the elimination of cholesterol. Too little bile acid can entail increased cholesterol values. In studies of diabetic rats, taurine also lowered plasma triglyceride values. As many diabetic cats have elevated cholesterol and triglyceride values, taurine may help to lower them. Additionally, according to the lipotoxicity hypothesis, chronic exposure to high concentrations of lipids contribute to deteriorating beta-cell function in diabetic patients.
  • Taurine has been found to affect blood sugar and insulin levels favorably.

A typical quantity of taurine that many people give their diabetic cats is 500 mg per day. No scientific studies were found to support this dosage in cats and the guidelines used by the pet food industry vary widely.

Further Reading