Feline taurine retinopathy, also called “feline central retinal degeneration”, is a disorder in cats caused by taurine deficiency. With this disorder, the eyes of retina in the eyes of a cat deteriorate, leading to impaired vision and blindness.
What Is Feline Taurine Retinopathy?
Feline taurine retinopathy is a disorder that affects the eyes of a cat. In particular, the retina of the eyes break down and are sometimes completely destroyed. At first, the cat’s vision becomes worse as they lose the ability to detect color and brightness. Over time the receptors responsible for dim-light vision are affected. The progressive result is the cat’s vision becoming worse and worse.
If left unattended long enough, the cat will go completely blind. Both eyes are affected in the same amount at the same time throughout the process.
What Causes Feline Taurine Retinopathy?
Feline taurine retinopathy is caused very specifically by taurine deficiency. Taurine is an amino acid that is essential in cats. This means cats cannot make taurine on their own, they must get it from their diet.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Taurine, in particular, plays a lot of important roles in the health of a cat. It’s critical for normal vision, digestion, heart muscle function, to maintain normal pregnancy and fetal development, and to maintain a healthy immune system.
A taurine deficiency can cause feline taurine retinopathy after only 10 weeks. At about 20 weeks of deficiency the cat will have completely lost its vision.
Treatment for Feline Taurine Retinopathy
The best way to prevent and treat feline taurine retinopathy is to treat the taurine deficiency in the cat. Without treating this deficiency, the deterioration of the eyes will continue until blindness.
Most cat dry and wet foods on the market have taurine added to them because of how important it is to a cat’s health. Feeding your cat commercial cat food should be sufficient. However, if you’re making your own cat food at home, you’re cat may not be getting enough taurine.
Some owners choose to give their cat taurine supplements. These come in liquid or pill form, and will have the daily recommended amount of taurine available for your cat. Luckily, it’s hard for cat’s to overdose on taurine, so you don’t have to worry if you gave them too much.
Symptoms of Feline Taurine Retinopathy
Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell initially if your cat is developing feline taurine retinopathy. It’s only after this disease progresses to later stages that the cat will start showing signs of vision impairment. Bumping into things, missing the mark when jumping, and not seeing moving objects are all signs of feline taurine retinopathy.
At the end of the day, it’s best to catch this disorder early. Visiting your vet at least once per year is recommended. Your vet will be able to conduct eye exams and take blood tests that are early indicators of feline taurine retinopathy.