Do you read food labels for your cats? Then you must have noticed that some of them contain an ingredient that is fashionable in human diets ...
Probiotic and prebiotic for cats. Is this a marketing gimmick, or do these substances actually have a beneficial effect on the health of our pets?
Probiotics (from the gr. pro bios- for life) are selected and useful live bacterial cultures (probiotic bacteria are: Lactobacillus casei ssp. Rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus) and one strain of yeast (Saccharomii) in disease and increasing immunity.
Probiotics are sometimes given to cats on the recommendation of veterinarians. It is about the immediate reconstruction of the intestinal bacterial flora after treatment with antibiotics or the administration of specially selected strains of bacteria in chronic renal failure (Azodyl). Probiotics also prevent the recurrence of fungal and bacterial infections. They help in digestive ailments and light poisoning. In addition, they minimize the occurrence of food and skin allergies and have a positive effect on the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Everything worth knowing about cats
What about administering probiotics in regular maintenance foods to healthy cats? Is it worth it? Is it over-zealous? In the intestines of carnivores (dogs and cats), there is a relatively poor bacterial flora. The culprit is a very low pH - around 1. In nature, felines and dogs enrich their intestinal bacterial flora by eating hunted animals along with their stomachs and their contents, and in the case of dogs - also by eating herbivores' faeces. Therefore, it is worth supporting the functioning of our pets' organism when they cannot eat naturally.
Yeast is also added to many cat and dog foods because they are a rich source of B vitamins. Moreover, they inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms, help fight infections, bind bacterial toxins, prevent diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease.
Prebiotics are nutrients that stimulate the development of the intestinal microflora. Their source is plant products. Bacteria like sugars best, so meat will never be the prebiotic. One of the most important prebiotics in dog and cat food are fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and mannano-oligosaccharides (MOS).
It is certainly worth using them during and after antibiotic therapy. They recreate the natural microflora living in the intestines, inhibit the development of pathogenic, drug-resistant microorganisms (including fungi - e.g. yeasts from the Candida family). Additionally, the probiotic flora produces short-chain fatty acids that nourish the intestinal mucosa, stimulating it to regenerate and repair the resulting damage. That is why they help with diarrhea, constipation and intestinal congestion. Some of the bacteria (Lactobacillus rhamnosus) shorten the course of rotavirus diarrhea and reduce the risk of their occurrence.
It is also worth using them prophylactically in healthy cats or in debilitated animals, with weakened immunity and condition, in stressed animals, elderly animals, or after digestive system procedures. Probiotics increase the absorption of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
What probiotic should I give my cat? Best dedicated to cats. It is important that it is intended for carnivores, and not, for example, for rabbits or guinea pigs. The most effective probiotic activity is shown by bacteria selected within a given species. This is due to the host specificity of the microbes. Do not give your cat preparations for humans or dogs - although there are no studies confirming that they are harmful, the bacterial flora of herbivores is completely different from what is typical of carnivores and you should not risk complications. Vets especially recommend synbiotics, i.e. specifics containing both probiotics and prebiotics.
Probiotics for cats come in various forms - powder, tablets, treats. To get the most benefit from a probiotic supplement, it is recommended that you choose the highest CFU (colony forming units) that you can find in a product.
Useful bacteria can be found, for example, in natural yoghurts, kefirs, buttermilk. We can serve them as a variety to the diet of our pets and a source of probiotics, but in symbolic amounts, because they contain lactose. You should also remember to introduce these products gradually so that our pet's body accepts them.
And here we come back to the key question - is it worth giving healthy cats a prophylactic feed with pro or prebiotics contained in it? It is true that they have a beneficial effect on the health of the cat's organism, but they should not decide what food we choose for our pet. Still the most important is the content of meat and animal protein - cats are obligatory carnivores. Probiotics and prebiotics are a nice addition, but not a necessary one.
It is better to buy a good food (high-meat) without strains of beneficial bacteria and supplement the diet with appropriate preparations, than to feed the animal with a poor-quality product (4% animal protein, a lot of beet pulp, cereals) enriched with probiotics. Lots of prebiotics are found in foods high in plant products. And yet it is from animal protein that the cat draws energy and building blocks for its body.
These live microorganisms, i.e. the probiotic and the cat's prebiotic, are believed to help in the treatment or prevention of various diseases, especially those related to the gastrointestinal system. They also have a preventive effect, so they are also suitable for healthy cats. However, remember to consult your doctor or animal nutritionist when using them. Unconscious use can do more harm than good.