For hundreds of thousands of years, the feline has been a top carnivorous predator in the food chain. The domestication of the house cat has given way to unnatural, grain-rich diets and, as a consequence, digestive problems.
Like most mammals, much of a cat's immune system is housed in it's digestive tract. As such, it is important to their health to ensure that your cat has all of the good bacteria it can get.
These good bacteria, known as probiotics, are often the difference between a healthy, regular kitty and a hissing fur-ball aching to find relief. While many understand the benefits of probiotics for humans, they still find themselves asking the question: "Can I give my cat probiotics?"
Can Cats Take Probiotics?
To put it simply, yes, your cat can take probiotics, and should be taking them.
When making your own decision on whether your cat should be taking probiotics, remember that even the healthiest of cats can have problems digesting certain foods and can suffer from an array of ailments related to poor gut health. If your focus is on maintaining healthy and normal gut health, than consider putting your cat on a probiotic regiment.
When your cat's gut is unhealthy, many problems can arise, including:
- bathroom irregularity
- irritable bowel disease
- urinary tract infections
- skin allergies
- food allergies
Probiotics aid in dealing with much of these unhealthy gut issues and has been found to be effective in providing resistance to disease.
While probiotic supplements have historically been for human consumption, animal advocates are leading the movement to ensure better microbial health for cats and dogs.
This movement for cat wellness by way of probiotics has been aided by an enormity of peer reviewed research.
According to Dr. R. Fuller in Probiotics in Man and Animals,
"There is good evidence that the complex microbial flora present in the gastrointestinal tract of all warm-blooded animals is effective in providing resistance to disease. However, the composition of this protective flora can be altered by dietary and environmental influences, making the host animal susceptible to disease and/or reducing its efficiency of food utilization."
Dr. Fuller's insistence that the gut can be altered through dietary and environmental influences has been reaffirmed throughout the probiotic and animal supplement community.
Fuller goes on to state why giving cats probiotics is crucial to their natural health,
"What we are doing with the probiotic treatments is re-establishing the natural condition which exists in the wild animal."
Research into the benefits of probiotics for cats extends beyond Dr. Fuller, as Hiruta Yurga explains that, "The major outcomes from using probiotics include improvement in growth, reduction in mortality, and improvement in feed conversion efficiency."
Yurga's observation that probiotics can have a reduction in mortality has been a call to action for all who hold their cats in similar esteem to any other member of the family.
Yurga goes on to insist that probiotics should be given regularly, “Increased short-term supplementation of probiotics may be useful under certain conditions but should be followed by continuous supplementation thereafter”.
What To Look For When Purchasing Probiotics For Your Cat
When buying probiotic powder for cats, one of the most important things to look for is a CFU count and an NASC seal of approval.
A CFU count is a measure, in billions, of the probiotics present in the formula. It is a great way to measure if your cat is getting enough microorganisms into its system. If there is no CFU count listed, it is hard to trust that your kitty is getting the probiotics they have been promised.
The NASC does great work to verify that the companies making these claims are producing quality products that live up to the packaging.
The Quality Seal of Approval is a way for consumers to know that when they buy a product, they buy from a reputable company that has successfully completed a facility audit and adhere to the implementation of specific standards outlined by the NASC.
Prebiotics For Cats
While probiotics have certainly taken off in the lives of health advocates, and dog and cat lovers alike, prebiotics are a lesser known, but important part of the health equation.
Prebiotics act as a fiber that promotes probiotic growth and ensures safe delivery to the gut before the hot environment of the cat's system damages, and potentially kills, the probiotic.
It is important to remember that probiotics are powerful but are vulnerable to temperature and moisture, so make sure to follow the instructions on keeping your good bacteria alive and ready for action.
Cat and dog supplements unfortunately do not get the same kind of regulatory pressure that human supplements receive. This sometimes lax system of checks and balances can promote practices that lead to less than optimal supplements. We at Fidobiotics ensure that all of our products meet the highest standards that both humans and animals need and deserve.
Probiotics are extremely valuable microorganisms, and, as such, their components can vary widely based upon how they are manufactured and how their ingredients are sourced. Look for probiotic products that do not contain GMOs and are grain free.