What are the Best Probiotics for Cats? 3 Purrfect Picks

best probiotics for cats

Just as you need healthy flora in your gut to remain healthy, choosing the best probiotics for cats will will aid in keeping your feline pal’s immune system functioning at its best.

Be sure first that your cat eats a healthy diet for her size and age. In addition, don’t give your cat antibiotics as a preventive measure for disease. Antibiotics have a negative impact on your cat’s gut bacteria balance, and probiotics will help to balance good and bad bacteria.

Cats have a short digestive tract, in proportion to the length of their bodies. Their guts are built to consume a non-fiber diet. So it’s more difficult to sustain a healthy population of bacteria in their digestive system.

Interestingly, wild cats may get probiotics every time they eat! How? They do this by ingesting the guts of the animals upon which they feed. So the big cats have a constant supply of bacteria in their GI tract.

The food you feed your cat, even if you feed fresh food, does not include probiotics unless they are supplemented.

How Do Probiotics Help Cats?

Probiotics, or “good” bacteria, help to keep “bad” (pathogenic) bacteria from creating an unhealthy imbalance in the cat’s digestive tract.

Most of your kitty’s immune system is within the digestive tract. Billions of bacteria call the gut home. The immune system only functions well with a balance of good and bad bacteria. When they are in balance, your cat’s body can fight off viral and bacterial infections more effectively.

If bad bacteria flourish to the point that they outnumber the good bacteria, they can simply take over your cat’s digestive tract. This leads to many health problems, including skin problems, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and more.

Emotional and physical stress on your cat also plays a role in causing imbalances of bacteria in her gut. Main factors include adding a new person or pet to your family, moving, or being on a poor nutritional diet.

Do Probiotics Really Work for Cats?

The benefits of giving your cat probiotics are not as extensive as those proven in human studies. In recent years, more veterinarians are recommending probiotics for cats (and dogs), especially if they have problems with their digestive tracts. It’s a natural approach that can lead to positive results.

Specific benefits of probiotics for cats include:

  • Enhancing the performance of cells that absorb harmful microorganisms and waste in the tissues and bloodstream
  • Enabling the cat’s gut to digest food better and to more easily absorb B-vitamins, which are vital to her brain, nerves, blood, heart and more
  • Helping with malabsorption and addressing pica (eating dirt, etc.)
  • Helping to restore the balance of bacteria after you use antibiotics for your cat.
  • Helping detoxify your cat’s body after having been on other prescription meds

What Conditions in Cats Can Be Treated with Probiotics?

It’s important for you, as a responsible cat owner, to understand how an imbalanced gut can cause health issues for your pet. What causes this imbalance? It can come from:

  • Poor quality cat food
  • Antibiotics and steroids
  • Sudden change in your cat’s diet
  • Inadequate diet
  • Surgery
  • Chemicals in your pet’s water supply
  • Compromising of the immune system
  • The natural process of aging
  • Pesticides, fertilizers and other polluting chemicals
  • Major changes in their life (new pet, new person, etc.)
  • Disorders like urinary tract problems, pancreatitis, renal failure or hyperthyroidism
  • Stress

Some commonly seen symptoms of an imbalanced digestive system include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Hairballs
  • Flatulence
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Food allergies
  • Skin allergies

What are the Best Probiotics Strains for Cats?

There are seemingly countless probiotics strains out there and whereas they are all beneficial, some are better than others when it comes to our feline friends.

Here are the best probiotics strains for cats to look out for if you want to choose your own brand of probiotics for your cats.

L. acidophilus

L. acidophilus is sometimes prescribed by veterinarians for cats who have upset stomachs. It is also helpful for cats with cancer, who suffer from chemotherapy side effects.

L. acidophilus powder or supplements duplicate the action of natural acidophilus bacteria, to protect your cat from harmful parasites and bacteria. It does this by its release of hydrogen peroxide, which is toxic to the harmful organisms.

In fact, acidophilus is also beneficial for already-healthy cats, since it improves their overall digestive efficiency and enhances their immune systems.

S. thermophilus

For cats with digestive upset, some veterinarians recommend yogurt to their owners. However, cats can be difficult to entice to eat something unusual to them. Vets can now recommend probiotics including S. thermophilus to clients who have cats with upset stomach.

This probiotic is especially useful after a course of antibiotics, which will otherwise overrun the gut with bad bacteria. S. thermophilus helps cats with diarrhea to feel better, as well.

S. boulardii

S boulardii isn’t digested within the gut, and does not exert systemic effects on your cat. Rather, this bacteria acts in the lumen, or inside space, of the gut.

During its successful passage through the intestine of your pet, research has shown that S boulardii is able to mimic the effects of “good” digestive flora, which reduces inflammation and stimulates a healthy immune system.

L. bulgaricus

Good bacteria like L. bulgaricus play a vital role in defending your cat’s body against illness and disease. These bacteria are known as “friendly”, since they actually defend your cat from organisms that could harm her.

What are the Proper Probiotic Doses for Cats?

How many probiotics are too much? There really isn’t one right answer to this question. It all depends on your cat. Much of the probiotic bacteria administered orally is lost through exclusion by complex “bad” bacteria.

The effective dose for probiotics in cats ranges from about 100 million CFU (which is very low) to about 450 BILLION (which is very high). Typical recommendations for cats are usually between 10 and 40 billion.

Use half of this dose for kittens. Since a lot depends on the individual cat being treated, probiotics can require some trial and error to ascertain the optimum dose.

What’s the Best Way to Administer Probiotics to Cats?

Administering probiotics to cats is nothing like giving it to dogs. You can hide dog supplements in anything from peanut butter to wet dog food, and he’ll probably eat it. Cats are usually finicky by nature, and your cat may turn up her nose when you try to give her probiotics.

If you feed dry food, you can get it a bit wet until probiotic powder sticks to it. You might also put the probiotics in baby food. Some cats love baby food. If you use tuna, mix your probiotic with just the water from the tuna can.

When is the Best time to Give your Cat Probiotics?

Cats may certainly need probiotics when they’re sick, but it’s essential to start probiotic supplementation when your cat is young and healthy. This will help her to grow healthier as she ages.

Give your cat her probiotics in her first spoonful of a meal, so she has an empty stomach. Therapeutic doses twice a day can help if she is on antibiotics. If your cat has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), she will need a higher dose.

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