Many people are familiar with using probiotics to improve their digestive health. Probiotics are natural ingredients that can have positive effects on multiple types of stressors to overall health. Did you know cats also can benefit from probiotics to promote their health?
Probiotics for cats come in several forms, making administering them convenient for pet parents.
What Are Probiotics for Cats?
Probiotics are live microorganisms (typically bacteria and yeast) that have potential to restore or improve gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms naturally present in a healthy gut environment). Situations that are stressful for your cat can result in an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy gut bacteria or yeast, and this can negatively affect your cat’s digestive system in many ways (such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating).
It can also negatively affect your cat’s weight, hormones, mood, immunity, and risk for infections elsewhere in its body. Using probiotics helps restore the normal balance of healthy gut bacteria and yeast.
The Best Probiotics for Cats
Humans, dogs, and cats all have different types of bacteria and yeast in their gastrointestinal tracts. There are unique bacteria and yeast that are specific to a species and some that are common across species, so it is important when considering a probiotic to make sure it is designed specifically for cats.
The National Animal Supplement Council has a quality program in which member companies that make supplements commit to high standards of quality assurance. Productions containing multiple strains of bacteria and yeast are preferred, and many products are meant to be used long-term (6 months or more).
Here are some of the best probiotics for cats on the market:
Available in powder form in a packet
Safe for kittens and adult cats
Contains Enterococcus faecium strain SF 68
Available in paste as well as capsule, which can be taken directly or sprinkled over food
Contains seven strains of bacteria, including Enterococcus, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus
Contains added prebiotics (compounds that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms)
- Available in a treat form
- Natural duck flavor
- Contains Bacillus coagulans
Probiotics for Kittens
Kittens can experience several stresses during early development. These include being weaned from their mother, going to a new home, possibly having to adapt to other pets or dietary changes, and experiencing body growth at a rapid rate.
Some kittens are also stressed by attempting to clear parasite infections from the gastrointestinal tract. These parasites can be due to underlying issues during development in the womb or during nursing after birth. For these reasons, probiotics can be helpful for kittens as part of their growth process. However, pay close attention to dosing, and always check with your veterinarian before starting any new probiotic. Your veterinarian can guide you to find a brand that works best for your kitten.
Probiotic Cat Food
Some diets contain probiotics in the food for utmost convenience. A few examples include:
- Available in kitten, adult, and senior formulations
- Contains B. coagulans
- Chicken, turkey, salmon, egg, and lamb flavors
- Available in dry form, one formulation for all life stages
- Contains B. coagulans
- Turkey, chickpeas, and salmon flavors
What Issues Do Probiotics Help in Cats?
In certain studies, probiotics helped strengthen the immune system when fighting viral infections. Probiotics can help with diarrhea, gas, stomach rumbling, difficulty maintaining weight, stress, recurring infections, immune support, and restoring a healthy gut after taking medications.
Probiotics are generally considered safe for use but they can occasionally have some unwanted side effects (such as allergic reaction or intolerance). Before starting any new product for your cat, be sure to discuss your cat’s situation with your veterinarian.
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