Did you know that just like you, your cat's tummy can become upset due to an imbalance of gut bacteria? Here, our Gillette vets talk about how good bacteria can help your cat's digestive health and how probiotics can keep things moving well.
Probiotics and Cat Gut Health
Did you know that just like you, your cat has trillions of bacteria living in their gut, typically with a healthy balance of different types? This microbiota helps to regulate the processes of your cat's digestive system.
When this balance is disrupted, however, it can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms for your feline friend. This might lead you to wonder – Do cats need probiotics?
If you notice that your cat is frequently experiencing digestive upset or anxiety-related symptoms then it is possible that they are overloaded by unhealthy gut bacteria. There is an entire system of bacteria growing in your cat's stomach which, when kept at a healthy balance can allow your kitty to live comfortably. But when the bad bacteria begin to outweigh the good bacteria, it can cause havoc on their digestive system and entire well-being.
Are probiotics good for cats?
Probiotics for cats are filled with live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that are able to help restore the balance of healthy bacteria. There are a number of different factors that can contribute to this balance being thrown off.
Along with the effect on your cat's digestion, these bad bacteria can also cause trouble with your cat's weight, hormones, mood, immunity and increase their risk of infections. Some of the areas that probiotics can help include:
- Diarrhea: This can commonly be caused by viruses such as feline panleukopenia or parasitic diseases such as giardiasis.
- Antibiotics: The use of probiotics is common in humans taking antibiotics as the medication helps to rid the body of illness-causing bacteria, but also the good bacteria.
- Stress: Stress can be related to gastrointestinal issues, by giving your cat a probiotic, you can help them manage their gut health through stressful situations.
- Flatulence: When a cat (or any other creature) suffers from gastrointestinal issues, it can lead to an increase in flatulence.
- Constipation: Along with flatulence, gastrointestinal concerns can lead to constipation.
- Immune system booster: If you have a very young or very old kitty then they could use the immune-boosting benefits of probiotics.
- Overweight and obesity: Some vets believe that there is a direct link between the health of the cat's gut bacteria and obesity.
- Chronic diseases: Bad gut bacteria can contribute to inflammatory bowel disease or feline intestinal lymphoma.
- Other diseases: Hormonal diseases and allergies can both cause issues affecting the bacteria in your cat's stomach.
- Infections: As mentioned above, probiotics may be recommended if your cat is having treatment for infections using antibiotics.
What are the best probiotics for cats?
When it comes to probiotics for cats, the recommended types are lactic acid based such as:
- Lactobacillus spp
For cats in particular, the best types of probiotics are Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium.
Each type of probiotic focuses on a different area of gut health. Enterococcus generally lives in the colon of your cat, whereas Bifidobacterium can be found in the small intestine. Enterococcus has a focus on colonic health while aiding in the formation of healthy feces, whereas Bifidobacterium aims to keep up with digestive health.
One of the most important factors when choosing a probiotic is choosing one that contains at least two different strains of bacteria.
What probiotics do vets recommend?
One of the things that many pet parents consider when choosing probiotics for cats is how the probiotics are given to the cat. Probiotics are able to be found in a variety of options – from powders, capsules, chews, or formulated into food. The important thing about choosing probiotics for cats is that you choose one that contains the right combination for your cat's needs.
Probiotics are not something that you should create at home, leave the science behind gut bacteria to the experts.
Cat Probiotic Side Effects
Before starting your cat on probiotics you should keep in mind that you should on do so under the direction of a vet. Once your cat has started their new probiotic regimen there shouldn't be any concerning side effects. The most commonly noted, and typically the only usual side effect, is flatulence.
When should cats take probiotics?
While probiotics are a good idea in general to help manage your cat's gut health you may also choose to offer them to your feline friend if they are experiencing any of the following:
- Your Cat's Age
- Dietary changes
- Eating grass
If you notice any changes in your cat's digestive health during these situations you should speak with your vet about treatment with probiotics.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.