Cats are also very similar to humans. We might think that dogs are the closest thing when it comes to the body’s immune system to humans, but cats are similar to us as well.
Just as in humans, the majority of the immunity of a cat resides in the digestive tract. That means that keeping your cat’s digestive tract healthy and balanced is the key to a healthy life. With that in mind, today, we will talk about probiotics for cats.
Are they different than human probiotics? How to supplement your cat’s diet with probiotics? What are probiotics? Stay tuned, and you will find out.
Benefits of probiotics for cats
Probiotics are friendly bacteria that regulate the digestive system and improve our overall health. The same applies to cats as well. They can prevent and treat a variety of illnesses and diseases.
Probiotics for cats help maintain normal gut health, which results in fewer signs and symptoms of digestive upset.
With that in mind, here are some of the benefits of supplementing your cat’s diet with probiotics.
- Promote a healthy immune system
- Preventing and reducing issues like vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and stool changes
- Prevent inflammatory bowel disease, a common condition among cats, especially during senior and adult years
- Reduce duration and slow recurrence of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
As mentioned previously, immunity for cats is closely linked with the health of the digestive tract. When your feline friend’s digestive tract is harmed, her immunity will suffer.
The most common digestive upset is inflammatory bowel disease and infections. Your cat can also start ingesting something she shouldn’t, simply because she is searching for “good bacteria and microorganisms that regulate her digestion”.
Cats that spend a huge amount of time grooming themselves are more prone to digestive problems. The reason is simple, they are at risk of ingesting too much hair or things from the environment.
Inflammatory bowel disease is another concern which can cost a lot of money to manage and treat.
Difference between cat and dog probiotics
If you think that you can feed your cat dog probiotics, think again. The digestive system of cats and dogs is quite different. For example, cats have shorter small intestine when compared to dogs.
As a result, the transit time for digesting food is quicker. Cats also have a smaller cecum, as well as different gastric mucosa.
Another huge difference is the nature of animals. For starters, cats are carnivorous in nature, while dogs are omnivores. Cats need protein and fat to survive, while dogs need meat, protein, vegetables, and fruits.
Dogs also have molars in their mouth, which are there for chopping up plant material. Cats lack these types of teeth.
With all of the differences in anatomy, physiology, and diet, we can only conclude that probiotics for dogs and cats are different. And one more thing, cats benefit from probiotics even more than dogs do.
Can you feed human probiotics to cats?
So far, there have been no studies that show that feeding cats with a human-designed probiotic supplement is dangerous. However, veterinarians still suggest that owners should give probiotics specifically designed for cats.
As with dogs, cat’s microflora in the intestines is different than the one of humans. We cannot assume that the probiotics we consume will benefit our feline friends as well.
What are some cat probiotics?
Cat probiotics can come in different forms, including pills, powders, or infused inside of treats. No matter which forms you opt for, veterinarians suggest you go for the probiotic that contains the highest colony forming units.
This way, your cat will benefit the most out of a probiotic supplement. Diversity is also important, as you want to make sure your cat consumes different probiotics, not just one type of bacteria.
Two strains you want in your cat’s probiotic are Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus families. The former live in the small intestine, while the latter in the large intestine (the colon). Bifidobacterium helps with digestion, while the Enterococcus strains help with maintaining colon health.
There can be up to five different types of each bacteria family in the probiotic. To make sure you are getting a quality product, find one with at least two different types.
How to supplement your cat’s diet with probiotics?
Some veterinarians prescribe probiotics only when your cat has diarrhea or any other digestive problem. However, it is better to make probiotics for cats part of their daily diet. This way, you prevent any digestive problems.
And if your cat has been on antibiotics treatment, it is essential to give some probiotics to counter the damage done by antibiotics.
We know that antibiotics can wipe out the entire healthy gut flora, so you need some probiotics to replenish the bacteria in your gut.
As for dosage, always follow the instructions on the package. If your cat refuses to swallow the capsule, you can hide it inside a treat, or go for powdered probiotics.
Risks and considerations
In most cases, there are no adverse side effects when you feed your cat with some probiotics. However, you should choose the brand and product wisely.
Another thing to note, probiotics cannot survive the canning process. Avoid any canned food claiming to contain probiotics. Unlike probiotics, pet food is packaged and formulated to have a long shelf life. Probiotics are living organisms, and they cannot survive as long as pet food on the shelf.
Natural probiotics for cats
Natural probiotics are naturally occurring good bacteria. These can be found in yogurt and other fermented vegetables. The problem with natural probiotics is that most cats do not like vegetables.
They are not touching them. Another issue is that most cats cannot stomach dairy products, including yogurt.
While natural probiotics are great, and welcomed addition to humans’ diet, they are not as good for your feline friend. It is nearly impossible to give natural probiotics to your cat.
Best Probiotics to try
We would like to give you some suggestions regarding which probiotics to buy on the market. While you can find others, these are some that have a high review rating, and usually, deliver what is promised.
- Hyperbiotics PRO-Pets – A Probiotic for Dogs & Cats
- Nusentia Probiotic Miracle for Dogs and Cats
- Fortiflora Nutritional Supplement for Cats
- Bene-bac Plus Probiotic Pet Gel
- Proviable DC for Cats and Dogs, 80 Capsules
- Pet Ultimates Probiotics for Cats – 20 Species – Stops Diarrhea & Vomiting, Cuts Litterbox Smell
- Purina Pro Plan FortiFlora Cat Probiotic Supplement