Nutrition, Pet Care Basics

Lysine and Taurine for Cats

Lysine and taurine. What are they and why are they so important for cats? The short answer is they are both amino acids, protein building blocks, that are essential to a cat’s overall health.

Taurine for Cats

Taurine supports a cat’s heart health, digestive function and vision. Taurine deficiency in cats causes dilated cardiomyopathy, a rare condition that interferes with the heart’s ability to contract properly that often leads to congestive heart failure.

Wild cat species hunt for their food and get taurine from digesting the organs of their prey. However, house cats that have medical conditions or poor diets benefit from a taurine supplement such as Doc Roy’s Daily Care Feline that contains taurine.

Signs of a taurine deficiency may not appear right away, it might take a couple years in some cases. Symptoms of a taurine deficiency include vision problems, muscle weakness, digestive issues, low birth weights, small litter sizes, fetal abnormalities, dilated cardiomyopathy and potentially even death.

Lysine for Cats

Lysine helps cats produce antibodies and enzymes that support the immune system. It also promotes healthy skin. It aids in calcium absorption, which supports strong bones. Cats deficient in lysine benefit from an L-lysine supplement.

This L-Lysine amino acid is often used to help treat and prevent herpesvirus in cats. Rhinotracheitis, a herpesvirus, tends to attack the cornea of the eye and the upper respiratory system and can cause abortions in breeding queens. Once a cat has had herpes the cat will always be a carrier with flare-ups often occurring when the cat is stressed. Giving lysine can help manage these flare-ups and aid in treatment.

The most common use for L-Lysine supplements is preventing herpes in kittens until we can get their immune protection up with a vaccine. It’s also commonly used to treat upper respiratory infections in all cats. L-Lysine is thought to prevent the herpes virus from reproducing so the cat’s immune system can clear the URI. It is also useful in herpes-positive queens to prevent abortion and the passage of the virus to kittens while nursing.

Commercial diets have enough amino acids for cats to grow and be healthy but when there is added stress of fighting a respiratory infection or herpes, supplemental L-lysine will help you get a healthy cat or litter of kittens without respiratory issues.

Lysine is available in different forms. Viralys comes as a gel or a powder that can be sprinkled on the cat’s food. Meanwhile, Enisyl-F is an oral paste that has a cat-friendly taste. The paste can be placed on food or you can put it directly onto your cat’s nose or paw so they can easily lick it off.

If your kittens need to be bottle fed, look for a milk replacer such as Breeder’s Edge® Foster Care Feline or Breeder’s Edge Foster Care GM which contains both lysine and taurine. If you have any questions on taurine or lysine for cats, give our Pet Care Pros a call at 800.786.4751.

Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM

Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.