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A single bout of diarrhea is generally not a cause for concern in cats, but if it persists longer that a day or two it can lead to dehydration. So when is a Veterinarian visit in order? Here are some things to watch for that would prompt a visit to your cat's health professional.

Take note when you observe lethargy, vomiting, fever, dark-colored or bloody stools, straining to defecate, decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss. When you see these signs make an appointment without delay. After your visit to the Vet and you are both confident that it is not a medical issue, what can you do to support healthy bowel habits and insure your cat will lead a long and healthy life?

Let's take a look at some of the things that cause diarrhea in cats that is not disease related.

  • The quality of food being eaten
  • The freshness of that food
  • Improved digestion
  • The cats ability to digest that food
  • Increased stress levels
  • Rapid food changes
  • Antibiotic use
  • Dairy or other food intolerances
 Long-haired cats that are prone to hairballs can experience occasional bouts of diarrhea. Also be aware that cats that spend a lot of time unsupervised outdoors may be exposed to eating inappropriate foods, which could lead to diarrhea because of the bad bacteria that is present in garbage bins or on dead carcasses. 

Diarrhea, Enzymes and Digestion

In the wild, cats of all varieties and sizes have one dietary thing in common; they kill and eat fresh raw food. A raw food diet, while closest to the natural cat diet can be expensive and difficult to manage.

The largest percentage of modern domestic cats will be eating cooked kibble or cooked processed food from a pouch or a can. Without the naturally occurring enzymes that are in raw food, the cooked food does not digest well on its own, stressing the cats system, which can possibly contribute to food allergies.

Whatever the cat cannot digest could cause an allergic reaction prompting the cat's digestive system to eliminate the problem quickly through diarrhea. Both poor digestion and food allergies can cause diarrhea. Adding digestive enzymes to your cat's food will take the stress off the cat's digestive system and help eliminate food allergies while raising the nutritional density of what gets delivered to the cats system.

Make sure to choose a digestive enzyme that is from vegetarian sources and contains at least sixteen different enzymes to digest all the different food ingredients. An enzyme product that contains only four or five enzymes will do a poor job digesting the modern can diet.

Probiotics, Prebiotics and Gut Health

Supporting your cat's digestion with vegetarian digestive enzymes is only half the solution. Probiotics are a huge part of the natural balance in the intestinal tract of both cats and dogs.

As an example when humans get a flu virus, we get diarrhea because the virus kills off and interferes with the natural probiotic balance.

The probiotics are responsible for regulating and balancing the amount of moisture in our stool. Without any probiotics our systems would be overrun with yeasts and disease causing bacteria resulting in diarrhea, dehydration or even more serious conditions.

Cats are no different; without a proper balance of good guy bacteria (probiotics) the result can be either constipation or diarrhea. Letting that imbalance of bacteria in the gut continue just sets the cat up for future problems.

How to Choose a Good Probiotic for Your Cat

There are hundreds of different species of probiotics naturally occurring; each one has its own special job or benefit. To be called a probiotic, the bacteria have to do more than just be harmless. It has to offer a measurable benefit to the host body it is living in.

Given that each probiotic does a slightly different job it makes sense to implant and colonize as many different species of probiotics possible. Look for a probiotic that offers at least 11 different stabilized live species of probiotics.

A supplement with only three or four different species will not do a good job colonizing the entire intestinal tract. Since each probiotics species gravitates toward a certain pH range, introducing multiple strains that each like a different pH range will colonize more of the intestinal tract than a supplement offering only one or two species.

. I also recommend avoiding probiotics that use yeasts instead of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria strains. Look for a supplement that includes prebiotics in the formula. Prebiotics act as food for the probiotics and greatly improve their colonization.

How to Choose a Good Probiotic for Your Cat

It is important to add probiotics to every meal you feed your cat. Every day your cats system is assaulted with things that kill off the natural balance of probiotics in the gut. Anti-biotics are sometimes required under a Veterinarians care

These anti-biotics while sometimes necessary are notorious for killing off all the good bacteria along with the bad. To at least maintain or tread water, so to speak, you can administer probiotics during a course of antibiotics; just try to dose the probiotics at a different time of day than the antibiotics. Even if you never use antibiotics there are things in the daily life of your cat that will kill off the natural probiotics

  • Drinking chlorinated tap water kills probiotics
  • Eating meat, poultry or dairy products containing antibiotics will kill off probiotics
  • Even emotional stress can alter the pH range in the intestinal tract and adversely affect the probiotic colonies.
  • Viruses and disease causing bacteria can alter the ideal balance

The idea is to top off at every meal the amount of probiotics in the gut and to replace those that have been lost. A CFU stands for "Colony Forming Unit".

Think of it as a seed count for the garden you are trying to plant. You should include 250 million CFUs of live, stable probiotics to each half cup of pet food as a maintenance dose every day at every meal. In times of loose stool this can be easily doubled, returning to the maintenance dose when the bowels are normal again.

Any information provided is not veterinary advice and should not be substituted for a regular consultation with a veterinary professional. If you have any concerns about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian's office.

probiotics for cats

Healthy cats are happy cats!

As Seen In Animal Wellness!

CEO and Founder

Author John R. Taylor the formulator of NWC Naturals® Pet Products

To support normal digestion and help prevent feline diarrhea you should:

Feed a quality fresh food

Use a digestive enzyme with at least 14 different enzymes

Supplement every meal with a good multi-strain probiotic

The probiotic should be formulated for pets with at least 11 different species of probiotics

Make sure to dose at least 250 million CFUs per ½ cup of food

The probiotic supplement should include prebiotics

And lastly, love that cat