Probiotics are hot right now with kombuchas and kefirs a plenty. Substantial studies have and are currently being conducted on the impact for humans with evidence showing links to multiple conditions such as allergy, pancreatitis and obesity as well as brain health. To date relatively little research has been conducted on the benefits of probiotics for cats (and dogs) but the recent surge in interest for humans should see this change to benefit our pets and our own health. From our own experience with our pets, we strongly believe that good health begins in the gut for cats, dogs and humans alike, and probiotics can be helpful tools to keep the gut in check.
Read on to understand the benefits of adding probiotics for cats.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics, not to be confused with prebiotics, are live bacteria and yeasts which maintain the balance of microflora in the gut. Prebiotics feed probiotics promoting their growth or activity.
Benefits of probiotics for cats
When your cat suffers with an illness, or has medical treatment for a condition, the natural balance of their gut is disrupted. This can cause diarrhoea and sickness and could in certain instances permanently damage your cat’s digestive system. Probiotics will often be prescribed post problems like this to help restore your cat’s gut to its natural balance.
Daily use of probiotics helps to support a healthy gut microbiota which helps keep your kitty happy and healthy in a number of ways. Here are some of the benefits of probiotics for cats…
Management of acute and stress diarrhoea
Let’s face it in the pet world, sh*t matters! One of the most recent studies on the benefits of probiotics for cats and dogs pointed to improvements in stool quality, with firmer and fewer stools for both cats and dogs. In addition to improving stool quality, when added to the diets of dogs, there was a notable increase in the concentration of the IgA antibody, which functions to protect against intestinal pathogens. Clinical trials on cats with IBD have also shown improved stool quality.
Your cat’s immune system is the first line of defence when it comes to fighting off infections and bacteria – just like yours is for you. And most of your cat’s immune system lies in the gut. A study of 12 cats with the FHV-1 (Feline Herpevirus) infection were administered either a probiotic or a placebo with their food. Those that received the probiotic showed a statistically significant difference in reduced levels of conjunctivitis. Through boosting the immune system and fighting off pathogens, probiotics are thought to also help defend against allergies.
It all happens in the gut, and through keeping your gut healthy, probiotics aid digestion, helping to breakdown food and absorb nutrients. Probiotics can help to settle sensitive stomachs and regulate bowel movements, reducing transit time and improving stool consistency.
The gut microbiota differs among obese kitties versus their healthier counterparts. While probiotics won’t reduce your kitty’s weight alone, they can work wonders in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, to keep your cats gut healthy and ensure they absorb all essential nutrients from their food. Probiotics can also boost your kitty’s energy levels, encouraging them to get out and about more helping burn off some of those excessive calories.
Can I give my cat human probiotics?
We know human toothpaste is toxic for our pets and that cats cannot eat cheese, but a probiotic is a probiotic right? Not quite, not all probiotics are the same and will impact differently. Similarly, our digestive system is very different to a cat’s digestive system, which differs again to that of a dog. Most vets agree that giving your cat human probiotics is unlikely to cause any harm but it’s unlikely to do any good either, so stick to a probiotic that’s specifically designed for cats.
What are the best probiotics for cats?
Enteroccocus faecium is the probiotic strain that has been tested to demonstrate the above benefits in cats (and dogs). It’s important that probiotics are live so steer clear from any wet cat foods that claim to have probiotics as these will likely be killed during the cooking process. At Scrumbles all our complete dry cat food and kitten food recipes incorporate live probiotics, which are added once the food has been cooked and cooled. Beyond probiotics your cat needs a tailored food that delivers everything they need. For example, cats cannot synthesise all essential amino acids so need to get this via their diet through animal protein. That’s why our cat food is high in animal protein with up to 97% animal protein and why all the ingredients we use are human grade, high quality and highly digestible to deliver what your cat needs to thrive. Read our reviews and see the difference our probiotic food makes for your cat.
Any questions? If you want to learn more about what we put in our food (and what we don’t put in), don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].