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What are the Pros and Cons of Probiotics for Cats?

J.M. Densing
J.M. Densing

Probiotics for cats are nutritional supplements of "friendly" bacteria that should naturally be present in their digestive system. They designed to ensure that the concentration of these beneficial bacteria is at an appropriate level to support optimum health. Pros for the use of probiotics for cats include improving overall health, particularly digestion and immune system functioning, in a safe and natural way. There aren't any obvious cons because probiotic use is safe and without any apparent side effects. The only real drawback is the added expense associated with probiotics, which may not be necessary for healthy cats.

Healthy animals, including cats, have a population of beneficial bacteria that are normally present in the digestive tract. These friendly bacteria play an important role in feline health. They aid in the digestion of food and are part of the defense against illness-causing bacteria and viruses that invade the body. Many situations, including illness, stress, antibiotic use, and poor diet can disturb the balance of these beneficial bacteria, thus preventing them from performing necessary functions. When this occurs, supplementation with probiotics for cats can be extremely helpful.

One pro when using probiotics for cats includes improving overall health.
One pro when using probiotics for cats includes improving overall health.

The use of probiotics for cats is supposed to offer many benefits including enhanced resistance to disease. The probiotics help to restore the balance of beneficial bacteria that are an important defense against illness-causing microbes, particularly when they are ingested with food. They have been shown to reduce allergic reactions, and prevent the overgrowth of certain fungi, as well as actively attacking harmful bacteria and stimulating immune system response. If a cat has been treated with antibiotics for illness, it's a good idea to supplement with probiotics for a while to help repopulate the beneficial bacteria as soon as possible

Probiotics may help cats avoid disease and other illnesses.
Probiotics may help cats avoid disease and other illnesses.

In the digestive system, probiotics for cats also have several benefits. They improve the digestive process and help the system extract maximum nutrition from food. They also assist in the synthesis of certain necessary substances such as vitamin K. Probiotics are also extremely useful in the treatment of many digestive ailments, especially diarrhea, in a safe, gentle, and natural way. They are often recommended for older cats or those who are ill or stressed.

There aren't any apparent significant problems with the use of probiotics for cats. They are considered by veterinarians to be safe and don't cause any harmful or irritating side effects. They are formulated to duplicate the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria already found in a cat's system, so they are not treated as a foreign substance by the feline immune response. The only real drawback of probiotic use is the expense, one which may not be necessary for healthy younger cats. Long-term supplementation with a high quality probiotic preparation can add up to a significant cost for a cat owner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of giving probiotics to cats?

Probiotics can enhance a cat's digestive health by restoring the balance of good bacteria in the gut, which can lead to improved digestion and nutrient absorption. They may also boost the immune system, reduce diarrhea episodes, and help manage chronic gastrointestinal issues such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), according to studies published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Are there any risks associated with probiotics for cats?

While generally safe, probiotics can pose risks if not used properly. Overuse or incorrect administration can lead to digestive upset. Immunocompromised cats or those with underlying health conditions could experience bacterial or fungal overgrowth. It's crucial to consult a veterinarian before starting probiotics, as noted by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Can probiotics help cats with antibiotics-induced diarrhea?

Yes, probiotics can be beneficial for cats experiencing diarrhea due to antibiotic use. Antibiotics can disrupt the natural balance of gut flora, leading to gastrointestinal upset. Probiotics help replenish beneficial bacteria, potentially reducing diarrhea duration and severity. A study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association supports their use alongside antibiotics for this purpose.

How do I choose the right probiotic for my cat?

Selecting the right probiotic involves looking for species-specific strains known to benefit felines, such as Enterococcus faecium or Lactobacillus acidophilus. The product should have high viability, meaning the bacteria are alive and able to colonize the gut. It's also important to check for veterinary recommendations and quality control measures, as suggested by the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases.

Can probiotics cause side effects in cats?

Side effects from probiotics in cats are rare but can include mild gastrointestinal symptoms like gas or bloating. In very few cases, cats with compromised immune systems may develop infections from probiotic strains. Always monitor your cat's response to a new probiotic and consult your vet if you notice any adverse effects, as recommended by veterinary experts.

How long does it take for probiotics to work in cats?

The effects of probiotics can vary depending on the individual cat and the condition being treated. Some owners may notice improvements in digestive issues within a few days, while for others, it may take several weeks to observe benefits. Consistent, daily supplementation is key for optimal results, as indicated by clinical trials in companion animal nutrition.

Discussion Comments


Probiotics are especially good for cats with irritable bowel disease. They help maintain the good bacteria in the cat's system. My sister's elderly kitty has this and the probiotics have been really good for her.

Except for the expense, as the article notes, there aren't too many drawbacks, and if the vet says it's OK to use acidophilus or brewer's yeast, you can get those a little cheaper in the human vitamin section. Just get the capsules and use about a fourth of the powder in a capsule on the food. But check with the vet, first.

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    • One pro when using probiotics for cats includes improving overall health.
      By: aceshot
      One pro when using probiotics for cats includes improving overall health.
    • Probiotics may help cats avoid disease and other illnesses.
      By: squidmediaro
      Probiotics may help cats avoid disease and other illnesses.