Just like with humans, the bacteria in your cat's gut can become disrupted which can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms and conditions. Here, our Tucson 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 you notice that your cat frequently experiences digestive upset or anxiety-related symptoms, then they may be overloaded by unhealthy gut bacteria. There’s a system of bacteria growing in your cat's stomach. When kept at a healthy balance, it can allow your cat to live comfortably. But when the bad bacteria begin to overthrow the good bacteria, it can cause havoc on their digestive system.
How can probiotics help your cat's gut?
Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that can help restore the balance of healthy bacteria. Several factors and situations can lead to an unhealthy balance of bacteria.
Along with the effects on your cat's digestion, these bad bacteria also cause trouble with your cat's weight, hormones, mood, and immunity. The bad bacteria also increase your cat’s risk of infection. 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. 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.
Enterococcus generally lives in your cat’s colon. Bifidobacterium can be found in the small intestine. Enterococcus focuses on colonic health while helping form healthy feces. Bifidobacterium aims to keep up with digestive health.
The different types of probiotics have different purposes and can provide different types of aid. This makes choosing a probiotic with several different strains (at least two) very important.
What probiotics do vets recommend?
When choosing a probiotic for your cat, you might want to focus on the delivery method. Probiotics come in various options– powders, capsules, chews, or formulated into food. The important thing about choosing good 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.
Are there any side effects with probiotics for cats?
While the most notable side effect would be flatulence, our vets in Tucson also would like to remind you again that these are live bacteria. They should only be administered under the direction of a vet.
When should cats take probiotics?
Aside from taking them daily to help promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, you may also want to consider giving your cat probiotics if you begin to notice any of the following symptoms:
- 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.