Like humans, a cat’s immunity is in the digestive tract; it must be kept in balance through good bacteria so the cat stays healthy and strong. Introducing probiotics into the diet of your cat is one way you can do that since friendly bacteria will regulate its digestive health. The best thing about these living microorganisms is that they are known for preventing and treating various diseases and illnesses, particularly the ones that affect the gastrointestinal system.
However, should you really be giving your probiotics to your cat? What type of probiotics should you purchase? How often should your cat be given probiotics? If you’ve got questions about cat probiotics, and want to learn more about them, you have come to the right place.
Advantages of Cat Probiotics
Cat probiotics are advocated by many veterinarians, as they allow the feline to maintain normal gut health, and avoid digestive problems like stool changes, diarrhea, vomiting or decreased appetite. The best part about these probiotics is that they also improve immune system health, and the immunity of a cat is connected to its digestive health. If the digestive tract of a cat is not in great health, the digestive system can suffer from ailments such as infections, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and cats ingesting things they shouldn’t.
Cats can ingest things when they’re grooming themselves since hair can be ingested and cat probiotics help ensure that the cat doesn’t suffer from poor gut health. One of the most common conditions that affect cats is inflammatory bowel disease, especially when they get older. It’s hard to tell what causes cats to suffer from IBD but commercial pet foods are believed to play a role.
For example, Kibble doesn’t exist in nature and cats shouldn’t be eating it. This means they could develop serious problems if they’re eating something, which doesn’t agree with their digestive system. It could give the cat diarrhea, or it may start vomiting or not eating food.
Apart from helping treat IBD, probiotics have been known to help with diarrhea, boost the overall immune system, improve digestion, and allow good bacteria in the gut.
What’s the Difference between Cat & Dog Probiotics?
Dogs and cats have wildly contrasting digestive systems. For example, the small intestine of a cat is shorter than a dog’s, which allows for quicker digestion time. The WALTHAM Center for Pet Nutrition found that cats have a smaller cecum than dogs; they also have different gastric mucosa. Another difference is that dogs are omnivores, while cats are carnivorous. This means that cats need to survive off fat and protein, while dogs can eat anything including fruits, vegetables, protein, and meat.
Digestion begins in the mouth, and if you compare the teeth of cats and dogs, the dog has molars that help chop plant material, while cats don’t have these teeth. The differences in diet, physiology, and anatomy are the reason why most veterinarians believe that probiotics benefit cats more than they benefit dogs.
Can Human Probiotics be Given to Cats?
There aren’t any studies that highlight the dangers of giving human probiotic supplements to cats. However, it is recommended by veterinarians that you should only give your cats products that are designed for it. The large and small intestine of a cat has microflora, which is vastly different from humans. This is why you shouldn’t think that cats will benefit from human probiotics.
The Types of Cat Probiotics
Various types of cat probiotics are available in pill and powder form so they can be mixed into treats. If you want to achieve the biggest benefits out of cat probiotic supplements, you should choose the highest CFU that is available. You should also get different types, so that you have an extensive range of probiotics, and aren’t relying on only one bacteria type.
The probiotic strains that are most beneficial to cats are those that come from the Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium families. The Bifidobacterium lives inside the small intestine, while enterococcus tends to live in the colon. So, every strain tends to have a different function for promoting health. Enterococcus helps in maintaining colonic health and normal feces formation, while Bifidobacterium helps with digestion.
You’ll benefit a lot by buying products that have additional bacterial strains, but there can be about five different types of Enterococcus or Bifidobacterium around.
Risks Associated with Cat Probiotics
There are rarely any adverse effects in cats that have consumed probiotics. However, cat owners should still select probiotic brands carefully. There are hardly any regulations in the supplement industry, and since there isn’t any governing agency, which demands that a company prove its label claims for strains and amounts, you must be careful about what you buy for your cat.
More oversight is required for manufacturers of human supplements obviously when compared to veterinary supplements. However, oversight is provided by one veterinary organization, National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). If you’re buying cat probiotics, you should buy one that comes with the NASC label or buy from an organization that is already producing human foods and supplements, to ensure higher quality.
At the end of the day, it’s mostly about what gives your pet the greatest benefit, because there are a lot of things that are still unknown about normal flora population and probiotics in animals. Every animal will react differently to a product which is why you should try out different kinds of probiotics and watch for the results to take full advantage.
Picking Probiotics for Your Cat
When it comes to picking cat probiotics, there is no magic formula that will help you make the right choice. However, it’s also not about trial and error since you can seriously endanger the life of your pet by giving them the wrong kind of supplement. Therefore, it is important that you read up about cat flora and learn about probiotics for cats. To help you make the right choice, here are some of the things you must keep in mind when picking probiotics for your cat:
• Buy human-grade probiotics
• Search for various bacterial strains
• Choose an enteric-coated capsule probiotic
• Choose an alternative approach if your pet is suffering from chronic digestive issues