Similar to humans, the bacteria in your cat's digestive system can become imbalanced, resulting in various uncomfortable symptoms and health issues. Our New Iberia vets provide helpful insights on managing your kitty's gut health and recommend the top probiotics 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 you observe that your cat often suffers from digestive issues or anxiety-related symptoms, it may be due to an overgrowth of unhealthy gut bacteria. Your cat's stomach houses a complex system of bacteria, which, when balanced, helps your furry friend live a comfortable life. However, when the harmful bacteria outnumber the beneficial ones, it can disrupt your cat's digestive system and overall health.
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.
In addition to affecting your cat's digestion, harmful bacteria can also impact your cat's weight, hormones, mood, immunity and increase the likelihood of infections. Probiotics can assist in various areas, such as:
- 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, they could use probiotics' immune-boosting benefits.
- 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
There are several common types of probiotics, with lactic acid-based probiotics being the most prevalent.
- Lactobacillus spp
When it comes to cats, the most effective probiotics are Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium. These probiotics are found in separate areas of the cat's body - Enterococcus in the colon and Bifidobacterium in the small intestine.
Enterococcus promotes colon health and helps in the formation of healthy feces, while Bifidobacterium aids in digestive health. It's important to choose a probiotic with at least two different strains to receive the full benefits of each type.
What probiotics do vets recommend?
When selecting a probiotic for your cat, it's essential to consider the delivery method. Probiotics are available in various forms, including powders, capsules, chews, or incorporated into food. The crucial aspect of picking probiotics for cats is to ensure that you choose the correct combination that meets your cat's specific requirements.
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 the most notable side effect would be flatulence, our vets in New Iberia also would like to remind you again that these are live bacteria, so they should only be administered under the direction of a vet.
When should cats take probiotics?
If you want to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, it's a good idea to take probiotics regularly. Additionally, if you observe any of the following issues in your cat, you might want to think about giving them probiotics:
- 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.