Like people, disruptions in the bacteria in your cat's stomach can cause uncomfortable symptoms and conditions. Our Pittsboro 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 might already know that probiotics can help with digestion in people, and you might be curious if they can also benefit your cat. If you've noticed your cat often having stomach problems or feeling anxious, it's possible their gut has too many bad bacteria and not enough good ones.
Your cat's stomach contains a complex system of bacteria that can help your feline friend live comfortably when maintained in a healthy balance. However, when the bad bacteria start to outnumber the good bacteria, it can seriously damage a person's digestive system and general health.
How can probiotics help your cat's gut?
Probiotics are tiny living organisms like bacteria and yeast that can restore the healthy balance of bacteria in your cat's body. Many things can upset this balance. When it's disturbed, it can harm your cat's digestion, weight, hormones, mood, and immunity and make them more likely to get sick. There are a number of factors and situations that can lead to an unhealthy balance of bacteria.
Along with having an adverse impact on your cat's digestion, these undesirable bacteria can also affect your cat's weight, hormones, mood, immunity, and susceptibility to infections. Probiotics can be helpful in a number of 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. Giving your cat a probiotic 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 undergoing 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, the best probiotics are Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium.
These probiotics live in specific places in your cat's body. Enterococcus stays in the colon, and Bifidobacterium resides in the small intestine. The goal of Bifidobacterium is to maintain digestive health, whereas Enterococcus is focused on colonic health while assisting in the production of healthy feces.
Probiotics come in different forms, each with its own job and potential benefits. This shows why it's important to choose a probiotic with multiple strains, preferably at least two.
What probiotics do vets recommend?
Choosing the right probiotics for your cat is crucial. They come in different forms, like powders, capsules, chews, and food formulations. Make sure to pick one that matches your cat's needs. Don't try making probiotics at home; it's best to rely on experts for gut bacteria science.
Are there any side effects with probiotics for cats?
While the most notable side effect would be flatulence, our vets in Pittsboro 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?
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.