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Probiotics for Cats

Shelly Adrian, DVM

Sad Calico Cat being Pet.


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Some beneficial live microorganisms or, probiotics for cats, when dosed adequately may help maintain a cat’s GI system. Probiotic research suggests that supplementing the feline microbiota with specific products is promising for symptom relief.


Probiotics for cats are beneficial microorganisms which can assist the healthy gut bacteria in serving an essential biological role. The word probiotic stems from the Latin word “pro,” meaning ‘promoting’ and “biotic,” which means ‘life.’


In the early 20th century, Eli Metchinoff discovered healthy gut microorganisms. The Nobel Prize-winning Russian scientist observed Bulgarians who daily drank fermented milk lived longer than others. He theorized the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus improves health and increases longevity.


How are Probiotics for Cats helpful:
– Probiotics modulate the immune system.
– Probiotics stimulates the release of a variety of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
– Restore the functions of a leaky mucous membrane.
– Reduces abnormal intestinal permeability.
– Protects healthy microbiota from pathogenic bacteria because of the production of antimicrobial substances called bacteriocins.
– Upholds an exclusion of pathogens by preventing adhesion, occupying binding sites, or consuming vital nutrients.
– Helps to halt diarrhea, to reseed the gut with beneficial bacteria, improving digestion, and boosting immunity.


Successful probiotic treatment of diarrhea in humans suggests the use of probiotics in other animals such as cats. Probiotics have been proposed to aid in the treatment of cats with flatulence, persistent E. Coli Urinary Tract Infections, acute diarrhea, acute pancreatitis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic inflammatory enteropathies.


What are Probiotics for Cats?


Probiotics work in protecting a cat’s intestinal microbiota, which maintains the health of the GI tract.


Probiotics are typically lactic acid bacteria, including strains like:

  • Enterococcus
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Streptococcus
  • Lactobacillus spp

The strains which cats tend to do best with are typically in the genus Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus families. It is essential to note that each species and strain of bacteria can have a particular effect on the gut, and not always beneficial. While Bifidobacterium can be involved with digestion, the Enterococcus genus in general assists with the formation of excrement, and some species and strains appear to help maintain colonic health.


The idea is that adding “good bacteria” stimulates the production of more of the cat’s native beneficial bacteria. In doing so, the entire balance of intestinal flora shifts towards producing and maintaining more beneficial bacteria.


To understand the role of intestinal microbiota in a cat’s gastrointestinal tract, and how probiotics regulate the interactions between microbiota and a cat’s internal system is challenging. Mostly because of the many interactions and variabilities in cats.


Although the evidence of efficacy is at a minimum and conflicting, much peer-reviewed literature regarding probiotics is positive. For example, some strains of probiotics for cats helps not only GI tract health, but also, the immune system, which is exceptionally intriguing.


Why are Probiotics for Cats helpful?


Several studies of single-strain probiotics have shown decreased diarrhea during stressful situations. Including antibiotic administration and have suggested an impact of the immune health of cats with upper respiratory conditions. A recent open-label study of a multi-strain probiotic showed that 70% of pet parents reported improvements in their pet’s clinical condition with supplementation of a multispecies probiotic.


How are Probiotics for Cats Beneficial?
  • By helping cats maintain homeostasis or balance, probiotics keep a cat’s health in check.
  • Certain probiotics for cats can help with acute diarrhea and stress-related diarrhea.
  • Plus, it may work as a solution for at-risk cats that develop antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
  • Fortunately, probiotic administration with specific species and strains seems to have minimal adverse side effects.
  • Young cats with viral diarrhea or who undergo stress can potentially benefit from certain strains of probiotics. A pet parent can administer probiotics to their cat a few weeks ahead of a stressful event.
  • In chronic diseases, long-term administration may beneficially stimulate the immune system.
  • Certain probiotics may help minimize a variety of illnesses and diseases primarily related to the GI tract.
  • May help maintain good gut health. So, there are less clinical signs of digestive upset like decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or stool changes. One probiotic has been shown to aid in helping to promote immunity.



Top Probiotics for Cats Trivia


QUESTION: Does every strain of probiotics do the same thing?

ANSWER: Health effects are strain-specific, and for this reason, not all strains of bacterial species have the same functional characteristics. Therefore, knowing the probiotic strain designation and dosage is critical. Also, to compare products to clinical studies published in the literature.


QUESTION: Does the US Food and Drug Administration not regulate probiotics?

ANSWER: Currently, no governing agency oversees quality control, product content, or label claims. Also, commercial products over the counter have a considerable variation in quality control.

While probiotics for cat research is promising, currently limited data makes recommendations challenging. Moreover, talk further in detail about probiotic recommendations with your cat’s Veterinarian.


QUESTION: Does it matter which probiotic I buy for my cat?

ANSWER: Every bacterial strain, even from the same bacterial species, can be entirely different in its properties and benefits. Research shows that only a few commercially available products are available for cats. Most importantly, it is essential to follow the recommendations of your Veterinarian.


QUESTION: In essence, am I responsible in upkeeping the health of microbiota and the gastrointestinal tract in my cat?

ANSWER: To clarify, microbiota composes 90% of the total cells in the mammalian body. Furthermore, intestinal microbiota research found a highly complex intestinal ecosystem which not only differs from patient to patient, but also, is vital in maintaining optimal health. Additionally, help support your cat’s microbiota by feeding a nutritionally complete and balanced diet containing prebiotic fiber sources. Also, always discuss your pet’s GI disturbances with your Veterinarian.


How do I add Probiotics to my Cat’s diet?


  1. Consult with a Veterinarian: Before using any probiotic or other supplements on your cat, ask your Veterinarian’s opinion.
  2. Assess the Probiotics Product Label: With this intention, evaluate the label. In the hope that you can see if a guaranteed analysis offers the number of live bacteria, a list of the specific genus, species, strain, and expiration date.
  3. Select the Most Appropriate Probiotics: All things considered, probiotics are available in powders, pills, and infused treats. In the long run, it’s important to realize the significance of using a product that has published research in cats.
  4. Use the Correct Dose of Probiotics: As has been noted, studies have shown that different strains are at varying levels of CFU (colony forming units). In fact, pet parents must understand that the organisms in probiotics are alive. Administer at the recommended dose and thus studied. This ultimately compensates for losses during the passage thru the GI tract and exclusion by resident microbiota.
  5. Administer a daily regimen, if needed: If a Veterinarian suggests long-term probiotic use for your cat, implement a daily routine to upkeep a cat’s health.
  6. Follow the Probiotic Instructions: In sum, follow the recommendations on the probiotic’s package. If a cat doesn’t swallow the probiotic, altogether the pet parent can hide it in a treat. Sprinkling a probiotic supplement onto the cat’s food is in any event one of the more effective dosing techniques.


What should I know about Probiotics for Cats?


1.) Maintain Quality Control: In brief, previous studies found many commercial probiotics had labeling errors. Plus, they forgot to list specific microorganisms. In the final analysis, there were misspellings, and surprisingly, numbers of bacteria were not listed. Additionally, further comparison tests report some probiotics didn’t meet viable organism claims. Furthermore, they contained organisms without a probiotic effect or even included potentially pathogenic microorganisms. To be noted, it is imperative to discuss any dietary supplement, including probiotics, with your Veterinarian before selecting a product.


2.) Avoid Probiotic Use in Immunocompromised Patients: Overall, when considering probiotics in immunocompromised pets, it’s important to realize to proceed with caution. Moreover, consult a Veterinarian.


3.) Select a Highly Regarded Probiotic Strain: In specific, another key point to remember is to select a recognizable strain designation which is reputable in studies.


4.) Susceptible or Resistant to Antibiotics: By and large, probiotics, like other bacteria, are sensitive or resistant to administered antibiotics. In particular, ask your Veterinarian if the probiotic you’ve selected is shown in research to be compatible with the antibiotic.





Shelly Adrian, DVM

Shelly resides with her physicist husband in San Diego and has 3 dogs: a 97-pound “houndbeast” named Doc, a 77-pound “greyhound-lookin’ thing” named Nutmeg, and a young “Monkey” golden retriever mix, who she found on

Veterinarian Shelly Adrian

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