Just like with humans, the bacteria in your cat's gut can become disrupted which can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms and conditions. Here, our Sharpsburg vets share some information about your kitty's gut health, how it can be managed, and what the best probiotics are for cats.
Do cats need probiotics?
You are probably well aware of the direct correlation between probiotics and good digestion – which may lead you to wonder if probiotics are good for your cat.
If your cat frequently exhibits symptoms of digestive upset or anxiety, they may have an overabundance of unhealthy gut bacteria. Your cat's stomach contains a complex system of bacteria that, when balanced properly, can help your feline friend live comfortably. However, when bad bacteria outnumber good bacteria, the digestive system and overall health suffer.
How can probiotics help your cat's gut?
Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that are able to help restore the balance of healthy bacteria. There are a number of factors and situations that can lead to an unhealthy balance of bacteria.
These undesirable bacteria can affect your cat's weight, hormones, mood, immunity, and susceptibility to infections, in addition to causing digestive problems. Probiotics can help in a variety of ways, including:
- 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. Taking probiotics may be able to help restore the balance in cats as well.
- 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.
The Best Types of Probiotics for Cats
The most common types of probiotics are lactic acid based such as:
- Lactobacillus spp
For cats in particular, the best types of probiotics are Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium.
Each of these probiotics has a distinct habitat. The colon of your cat usually contains Enterococcus, while the small intestine usually contains Bifidobacterium. Bifidobacterium's goal is to maintain digestive health, whereas Enterococcus is concerned with colonic health and the production of healthy feces.
Probiotics come in a variety of forms, each with a unique function and potential for assistance. This highlights the significance of selecting a probiotic with a variety of strains (at least two).
What probiotics do vets recommend?
Consider the method of administration when selecting a probiotic for your cat. Probiotics come in a variety of forms, including powders, capsules, chews, and food formulations. The most important thing to remember when selecting probiotics for cats is to select one that contains the appropriate 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.
Are there any side effects with probiotics for cats?
While flatulence is the most noticeable side effect, our vets in Sharpsburg would like to remind you that these are live bacteria and should only be administered under the supervision of a vet.
When should cats take probiotics?
Aside from taking probiotics on a daily basis to help promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, you may want to consider giving your cat probiotics if you notice any of the following issues:
- 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.