Have you ever wondered if your cat needs a probiotic supplement? We’ve all read the headlines about the benefits of probiotic yoghurt and supplements, and we know that they’re “good” for us.
But do we ever wonder if our cats need probiotics too? The answer is a resounding yes, and today we’ll be exploring the reasons why.
What are probiotics?
A cat's body (like ours) contains trillions of live bacteria, the majority of which live in the gut as part of their "microbiome."
During stress and illness, the bad bacteria in the microbiome balance may increase, throwing your cat's system off balance and potentially causing gut problems - which is when probiotics are typically required.
Probiotics, which are "life-promoting bacteria," are naturally occurring live microorganisms (bacteria and yeast). They are commonly referred to as "good bacteria." This is why probiotic supplements strongly advise refrigerating them after opening, and almost all advise storing them in a cool, dry place.
When given to a pet, either through food or as a supplement, probiotics work to populate and balance the gut's microbiome, resulting in positive health effects on both the digestive system and the cat's overall health.
Types of probiotics you can find
Cat probiotics are usually available in:
- Pills and;
- Pills that are infused with treats
To get the most out of a probiotic supplement, choose one with the highest CFU (colony forming units) count.
Cats respond best to probiotics with strains from the Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus families. Bifidobacterium prefers the small intestine and is more involved in digestion.
In contrast, Enterococcus prefers the large intestine and helps maintain colonic health by aiding in the formation of normal faeces.
The benefits of probiotics for cats
One of the most common reasons cats are offered probiotics is to help with digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhoea, but the health benefits of probiotics for cats go far beyond simple bowel health.
Some of the other benefits of probiotics for cats are:
- Strengthen a cat’s immune system
- Well-balanced gastrointestinal tract
- Fights off infections
- Improves skin and coat health
- Prevents allergies
Probiotics for cats with IBD
Probiotics are also used to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in cats. A typical Malaysian household will most likely include ingredients such as chillies, onions, and oil-rich foods, all of which are unsuitable for a cat's diet. These foods can cause IBD in cats, particularly felines with already sensitive digestive systems.
If your cat is very adventurous and frequently rummages through your kitchen or the trash, probiotics are an excellent way to maintain their gut health.
Are there side effects for cat probiotics?
There aren’t any concerning side effects to look out for when you give your feline probiotics. When used correctly, probiotics are considered “relatively safe to use”.
Due to probiotics, some cats may experience bloating, diarrhoea, gassiness, and nausea. This is most likely because the cat's digestive system needs time to adjust to the probiotic supplement. Besides that, certain probiotic brands (probiotic strains) may be intolerable to some cats.
As a result, we recommend consulting with a veterinarian before giving your cat any probiotic supplement.
Can I give my cat human probiotics?
While there haven't been any studies that show a negative correlation between human probiotics and cats, most veterinarians agree that giving your cat human probiotics is unlikely to be harmful.
Still, it's also unlikely to be beneficial. Therefore, it’s best to stick with a cat-specific probiotic.
Human foods such as yoghurt that contains probiotics should also be avoided as most cats are lactose intolerant and do not react well to dairy.
How to incorporate probiotics into your cat’s diet?
Finding the best probiotics for your cat can be difficult. Some cats dislike pills, while others dislike having powder sprinkled on their food. It may take trial and error to find the best supplement for your cat.
Probiotic-infused treats could be an excellent place to start. However, if you come across any wet food that claims to contain probiotics, avoid it because the bacteria will most likely be killed during the manufacturing process.
How long does it take for probiotics to work in cats?
The efficacy of probiotics in cats depends on the cat, the problem you are attempting to solve with the probiotic, and the type of probiotic. Probiotics should be effective in resolving digestive issues within a few days.
In terms of overall gut health, there should be an improvement in your cat in about four weeks. The use of probiotics regularly can be beneficial, but it is not always necessary.
There is no need to use probiotics regularly if your cat is healthy and eats a well-balanced diet. However, long-term probiotic supplementation may be beneficial if your cat suffers from IBD or chronic diarrhoea. Always consult your trusted veterinarian about how long to use probiotics.
Where to get probiotics in Malaysia?
Fortunately, the many different types of probiotics for your feline friends are widely available in Malaysian pet stores.
Veterinarians also sell them, but they are usually prescribed alongside antibiotics when your cat has severe digestive problems.
Best cat probiotics supplements in Malaysia (as recommended by vet)
This duck-flavoured chew is a sure bet if your cats aren't fans of pills or powders. This daily probiotic delivers 100 million CFUs to the gut and aids in the maintenance of digestive regularity in cats of all ages. The low cost of this option is undoubtedly a plus.
However, it is important to note that this product only contains one strain of healthy gut bacteria in its chews.
2. Borammy Probiotics (RM 0.10 / pill)
This product from China is popular among Malaysian cat owners. With this listing, you can get a few pills to try on your cat without purchasing an entire bottle.
These pills are an excellent choice because they contain several strains of bacteria and a slow-release agent. Borammy also sells a powdered version of this for RM 1 per packet.
3. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary FortiFlora (RM188 / 30 sachets)
This veterinarian-recommended option is more expensive, but it is well worth the extra money for the quality.
It's easier to give your cats the recommended dose of probiotics during mealtimes with the 30 pre-measured sachets. The powder's liver flavour also appeals to many cats.
4. NaturVet Digestive Enzyme Plus Pre & Probiotic Powder (RM 72 / 114g)
This powder is guaranteed to help if your cat has flatulence and a sensitive stomach. Your cat's daily probiotic intake should be met with 1g of powder at mealtimes.
Another benefit of this powder is that it contains prebiotics and probiotics, which are not found in many other products.
We hope this article has helped you understand the benefits of including probiotics in your cat's diet! As always, be sure to consult with your veterinarian before giving any probiotic supplements to your cats.
If your cat is constantly struggling with an upset stomach, getting pet insurance might be a good investment as the vet bills may rack up.
But do note that Oyen Pet Insurance do not cover supplement-related vet bills. This is because they are considered as preventive treatments which fall under the exclusion areas of the insurance policy.