Just like people, cats need to eat a nutritionally balanced diet to stay healthy. That diet should include appropriate levels of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, as well as one seemingly minor element: fiber.
The amount of fiber in a cat’s diet can influence how often they go to the bathroom, the consistency of their stool, and how well their colon functions.
When a cat doesn’t get enough fiber in their diet, their intestinal health can be negatively impacted. That’s why it’s important to ensure your cat’s diet includes the right amount and type of fiber.
Do Cats Need Fiber in Their Diet?
Fiber is an important dietary component for cats. There are two types:
Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves within the intestine water to form a gel that can slow the emptying of the stomach and improve nutrient absorption. Inulin and psyllium husk are examples of soluble fiber sources.
Soluble fiber can help increase feelings of fullness with fewer calories, which is helpful for cats who need to lose weight. It can also firm up stools, which can be beneficial for cats experiencing diarrhea.
Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber does not dissolve, but helps increase stool volume and frequency. Cellulose and wheat bran are examples of insoluble fiber sources. Insoluble fiber can help cats with conditions like constipation and hairball issues.
Fiber can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and help cats with blood sugar issues, such as diabetes. It’s also beneficial for cats with high cholesterol and high triglycerides, which can be secondary effects of diabetes, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, adrenal disease, bile duct obstruction, pregnancy, or genetic disorders that affect levels of fats in the blood.
How Much Fiber Do Cats Need?
When selecting a cat food, look for foods from companies that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards for complete and balanced cat nutrition. A pet food company that follows these guidelines means that they adhere consistently to these standards through food trials and quality control testing.
A moderate level of fiber is classified as about 6%. A high-fiber diet has about 12% fiber, so most cat diets that are not specifically formulated for any health conditions include a moderate amount of fiber.
The label of most cat food packages will indicate the maximum amount of fiber present in that food. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, it may be helpful to reach out to the company directly.
Before selecting a food for your cat, talk with your veterinarian. The overall amount of fiber in your cat’s diet may need to be adjusted depending on their health and other factors.
High-Fiber Foods for Cats
One high-fiber food for cats is Royal Canin® Veterinary Diet Adult Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food. With 4.7% maximum crude fiber, this prescription food is often recommended for cats with constipation.
A few over-the-counter diet options include Hill’s® Science Diet Adult Indoor Dry Cat Food and Purina® Pro Plan Adult Indoor Hairball Management Dry Cat Food, both boasting a 6% maximum of fiber of each.
If you are concerned that your cat may need more fiber in their diet, consult with your primary veterinarian.
Fiber for Cats with Chronic Diarrhea
The best foods for cats with chronic diarrhea often contain probiotics to support normal gut bacteria and enough prebiotic fiber to keep stool consistency solid. An example of this type of diet is Hill’s® Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Biome with Chicken Dry Cat Food.
Fiber for Cats with Constipation
As mentioned, Royal Canin® Veterinary Diet Adult Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food is a prescription food frequently recommended by veterinarians for cats with constipation.
An over-the-counter diet that may help with constipation is Hill’s® Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food, which contains between 6.5% and 11% fiber to help move digestive contents like stool and hairball material through the colon.
Fiber Treats for Cats
Fiber treats are a great way to add fiber to your cat's diet in a form they will enjoy.
A high-quality fiber treat for consideration includes Hill’s® Prescription Diet Metabolic Crunchy Cat Treats, with 10% maximum fiber. Another option is Temptations® Indoor Cat Treats, with 6% maximum fiber. Temptations cat treats are a great option because the treats themselves are nutritionally balanced.
Fiber Supplements for Cats
Fiber supplements are another way to add fiber to your cat’s diet.
One of the best fiber supplements is Vetnique® Labs Glandex Probiotic Fiber Supplement, with pumpkin seed and apple cellulose as the fiber source. Pumpkin seeds and apple cellulose are sources of insoluble fiber that help increase stool volume and frequency in cats with constipation and hairball issues.
Another product, Vet’s Best® Hairball Control Supplement for Cats, contains apple fiber, papaya extract, psyllium seed, marshmallow root, and slippery elm. Pure psyllium powder is a fiber that contains soluble and insoluble components. This supplement contains both soluble and insoluble sources of fiber, so it can help cats who have such diverse issues as hairballs, diarrhea, constipation, and obesity by increasing the feeling of fullness.
Plain canned pumpkin and sweet potato can also be added to your cat’s diet as natural fiber sources. Remember to work with your veterinarian before starting any supplements for your cat.
Do Cats Need Fiber FAQs
How do you add fiber to a cat’s diet?
It is usually easiest to measure out a powder supplement, just follow the directions on the product label, and mix it with wet food.
For cats on all-dry-food diets, a bit of warm water or low-sodium, pet-safe chicken broth can be added to the kibble to soften it. Then you can top it with the powder and mix everything together to make it more appetizing for your cat. Always check with your veterinarian about how much to add and how often.
Will fiber help ease my cat’s diarrhea?
The right kind of fiber can be very helpful for cats with diarrhea. Soluble fiber sources like sweet potato, guar gum, and psyllium husk can help firm stools and slow the movement of intestinal contents through the digestive tract, relieving symptoms of diarrhea.
Always check with your veterinarian about how much fiber to add and how often to give it to your cat. If your cat’s diarrhea lasts more than two or three days, contact your vet for an immediate appointment.
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