Why Your Cat Needs Probiotics

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With dizzying choices in cat food, supplements and nutritional options these days, what’s a pet parent to do? Vets are the key component in your cat’s health but more than ever non-veterinary specialists are needed from behaviorists to nutritionists to fill in the gaps.

At Cat Wisdom 101, our philosophy is a holistic one: a body/mind/spirit balance enhances your cat’s optimum well-being. We’re a happy to share a Holistic Nutrition 101 guest post by Jodi Ziskin. She is a Certified Pet Nutrition Consultant with a Masters in Science (Holistic Nutrition and Animal Studies).


Why Your Cat Needs Probiotics

by Jodi Ziskin

The benefits of adding a probiotic to a cat’s diet have been understood and utilized by holistic and integrative veterinarians and nutrition specialists for decades. In recent years, conventional veterinarians have begun recommending probiotics for pets, especially those with digestive problems. This more natural approach to care is very positive.
So, what exactly are probiotics and what do they do?
Probiotics – from a Greek word that means for life – are living microorganisms that keep pathogenic bacteria – the bad kind – from creating an imbalance inside the digestive tract.

The digestive tract is responsible for the majority of your cat’s immune system. It is also home to billions of bacteria. It is the proper ratio of good-to-bad bacteria that keeps the immune system functioning well. When gut flora is balanced, the body is able to fight bacterial and viral infections from taking root.

When bad bacteria are able to flourish, they can take over the digestive tract. This can lead to many digestive diseases and disorders including irritable bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, overgrowth of yeast causing digestive and skin problems and more.
Physical and emotional stressors cats face play a major role in causing bacterial imbalances in the gut. Leading factors are a poor diet, moving, adding a new pet or person to the household, etc.

Other benefits of probiotics:
· Enables the gut to better digest food, absorb minerals and assimilate B vitamins, which are essential to the heart, blood, nerves, brain and more.
· Enhance performance of phagocytes, the cells that absorb waste and harmful microorganisms in the bloodstream and tissues.
· Helps restore balance after use of antibiotics (it is very beneficial to use at the same time as antibiotics; just be sure to serve them at least three hours apart).
· Helps detoxify the body after a prescription drug is used.
· Helps with malabsorption and is important when addressing pica disorder.

Not all probiotic products are created equal.
Cats (and dogs) require probiotics that can survive the strong acids produced in their stomachs. That is why it is so important to use a product especially made for pets.
When choosing a probiotic, be sure it is a live product and contains at least 20 million beneficial bacteria from multiple strains (at least 5). The product should not contain sugars (like malt) or starches, as both provide a breeding ground for bad bacteria as they digest in the gut.

Many probiotics also contain a prebiotic – complex sugars that feed intestinal bacteria, including probiotics. Unfortunately, they also feed the bad bacteria, so for cats with inflammatory intestinal problems, it is a good idea to avoid them.

The probiotics I most often recommend to my clients include Total-Biotics by NWC Naturals Pet Products; Pet Dophilus by Jarrow; Plant Enzymes & Probiotics by Animal Essentials and eNZYmes Pro + by Great Life.

To learn more about Jodi and holistic nutrition, visit her at Holistic Healthy Pets

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  • Gia

    Very informative. I wasn’t aware of the issues with pre-biotics. I’ve done a lot of research on probiotics, because I needed to find a way to stop recurring yeast infections. There is growing research, and studies, that show they can help fight it.

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  • Caitlyn

    Thanks so much for writing this! You mention that there should be 5 strains in the probiotic, are there any specific strains that are most beneficial for cats? Thanks again for keeping such a helpful and informative blog!

  • Kathryn

    Fascinating and it makes perfect sense.

    I will try this!

    I just give the boys the vet food. I should probably get pet grass, too.

    I eat mostly fresh fruits and veggies for my probiotics.

  • Marg

    This is a great post. I was just wondering how I could add something to Mahoney’s diet to help her immune system. She seems to get all diseases. I have her on enzymes but don’t know if that is the same thing. I will go check it all out.

  • Tamago

    Ohhh thank you so much for this post! Once before, Goro had a loose stool and our vet gave him probiotics. I’ve been wanting to add it to my boys’ diet but haven’t been able to decide which product is the best. This post is very helpful!

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