Just as you need healthy flora in your gut to remain healthy, choosing the best probiotics for cats 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 negatively impact your cat’s gut bacteria balance, and probiotics will help 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 bacteria imbalances 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?
As a responsible cat owner, you need 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
- 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
Some commonly seen symptoms of an imbalanced digestive system include:
- 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.
Veterinarians sometimes prescribe L. acidophilus 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 harmful organisms.
In fact, acidophilus is also beneficial for already-healthy cats since it improves their overall digestive efficiency and enhances their immune systems.
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 an 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 isn’t digested within the gut and does not exert systemic effects on your cat. Rather, these bacteria act in the lumen, or inside space, of the gut.
During its successful passage through your pet’s intestine, research has shown that S boulardii can mimic the effects of “good” digestive flora, reducing inflammation and stimulating a healthy immune system.
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 them 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 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.
What to Look for in Probiotics for Cats
Now that you have a lot of information to help you understand the beneficial impact probiotics can have on your cat’s health, let’s take a look at what you should consider when finding the best probiotics for cats.
The Delivery Method
Most probiotics for cats will come in a powdered form and are meant to be sprinkled over your cat’s food. Others are liquids that you can drop into your cat’s mouth. When finding the best probiotics for your cat for proper digestion, you need to determine which delivery method would be easier for you to accomplish.
You also want to research the effectiveness of any probiotics you consider, making sure they are species-specific. Not all animals will require the same types of beneficial bacteria, so you want to find probiotics that are specifically formulated for cats.
Some probiotics also contain prebiotics that are also known as synbiotics. These products may prove to be the most effective for your cat. Always read the label before giving your cat anything. When reading the label, you should see gum Arabic, fructooligosaccharides, and other prebiotics listed.
The Cat’s Age
If you have a smaller or younger cat, it may be hard for them to consume a large amount of probiotic, so how much you give your cat is a real consideration so you can ensure you are delivering the right number of probiotics and have chosen the right probiotic strain that will be most beneficial for their health. An elderly cat, for example, may not eat as much as a younger cat and may be better suited for a powder probiotic.
Possible Side Effects of Probiotics for Cats
The most common side effects your cat may experience with probiotic supplementation are flatulence and some abdominal discomfort because of the increased intestinal gas production the probiotic supplement may cause.
If you notice any vomiting or diarrhea, your cat may not tolerate the probiotic very well and could possibly even have an allergy to a certain ingredient it contains.
Before starting any kind of dietary supplement, always discuss it with your veterinarian to make sure you keep your furry friend purrrfectly safe while also learning how to boost their healthy bacteria and promote better digestive health.
Can You Give Human Probiotics to Your Cat?
Both humans and cats can definitely benefit from probiotics, but human probiotics should not be given to your cat. You will find that they do not benefit from them, and a species-specific probiotic product would benefit them.
While there are no current studies that show that giving human probiotics to your cat is definitively dangerous, veterinarians still encourage pet owners to choose a product specifically manufactured for cats. You can’t assume human probiotics will work.
The bacteria our cat needs is different from what we need as humans. The dominant healthy bacterium in humans is from the Bifidobacteria group, while the Lactobacillus group is most beneficial for cats.
Ready to Give it a Try?
If you are ready to give the best pet probiotics for cats a try, consider this Cat Liquid Probiotic for your furry friend. It supports your cat’s immune system and digestive system and contains raw, plant-based, and highly potent probiotic strains proven to be beneficial for your cat.
Still have questions you want to clear up before trying the best probiotics for cats? Read on for more valuable information.
When should you give your cat probiotics?
Before giving your cat a probiotic, consult with your veterinarian. In many cases, it is safe to give your cat a probiotic daily. Depending on the kind you get, you can give it to them via a dropper before a meal or sprinkle the powder probiotic supplement over their food.
Do probiotics help cats with hairballs?
Certain probiotics and enzymes can help cats with hairballs. They help maintain a healthy digestive system and can help prevent potential diseases of the digestive tract. Look for a cat probiotic with antioxidants and natural enzymes and one formulated without any mineral oils or herbals that can prove to be disruptive to your cat’s digestive system.
Can probiotics settle your cat’s sensitive tummy?
Many probiotics claim that they can help settle a sensitive tummy, but it really comes down to the probiotic quality. If you don’t find a positive response after giving your cat probiotics, then it may be time to try something new or move on.
Can cats overdose on probiotics?
It is possible for cats to overdose on synthetic vitamins and minerals but not probiotics. If your cat takes too many probiotics, it can be a shock to their system, however, but is not dangerous. Your cat would more than likely experience diarrhea as the microflora in the intestinal tract is being rebalanced.