Cats Digestive Health
Every cat owner must first take care of the health of her digestive system. Only if the pet’s digestive tract is healthy will it receive sufficient nutrients and energy. So what do you need to know about cat digestion?
What is the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract?
Microflora is a collection of all bacteria that live in the cat’s gastrointestinal tract, which closely interact with the food consumed and with the tissues lining the intestines. The microflora of any animal is represented by both absolutely beneficial varieties of bacteria and potentially harmful ones. But they are no less important for the body: for example, to maintain the local resistance of the immune system. In addition, the microflora is involved in the synthesis of a number of vitamins and is necessary for the absorption of nutrients from food.
Thus, the most important thing for the health of the cat’s gastrointestinal tract is the balance of microflora. And first of all it is provided with food. In addition, food additives containing probiotics or prebiotics are used to maintain this balance.
What is probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms that, when used in adequate doses, benefit the body. Prebiotics are nutrients that can have a beneficial effect on the intestinal microflora, which stimulate its growth and biological activity, and also provide energy for the nutrient and metabolic processes of bacteria.
Thus, probiotics are bacteria that are beneficial for the health of the gastrointestinal tract and animal digestion, and prebiotics are only a nutrient medium for probiotics, as well as a faithful helper of various cells of the stomach and intestines in digestion and assimilation of food. Now on the market there are many different additives, which may include both.
What are the beneficial properties of probiotics and prebiotics?
There are 3 main functions of probiotics:
• Increased disease resistance and minimizing intestinal disorders. Probiotics compete with harmful bacteria for dwelling in the intestines and strengthen the protective abilities of its immune system.
• Improved stool quality. A cat’s chair is approximately 40–50% composed of intestinal bacteria, therefore its quality and composition greatly depends on the microflora.
• Nutrition of intestinal cells. In the process of vital activity, probiotics produce special nutrients – volatile fatty acids, which serve as food for intestinal cells – enterocytes.
In prebiotics, you can summarize two main functions:
1. Prebiotic fibers serve as food for microflora.
2. The mechanical (coarse) fraction of dietary fiber accompanying the prebiotic components improves intestinal motility. For cats, this property of dietary fiber has a very great benefit, as it promotes the removal of hairballs from the intestines, preventing excessive regurgitation of hairs.
How can prebiotics be provided for a domestic cat?
According to a number of studies, of all the food products that are included in the cat’s diet when feeding home-made food or economy-class feeds, the greatest amount of prebiotics is found in wheat by-products: bran, seedlings and wholemeal flour, as well as peanut husks, alfalfa, barley and wheat grain. Therefore, when feeding homemade food is recommended to include in the diet of the pet the above sources of dietary fiber.
The best solution would be to choose an industrial ration containing prebiotic fibers in guaranteed quantities. Currently, inulin is recognized as one of the best sources of dietary fiber for cats – a substance secreted from chicory root. It was he who was added to PRO PLAN® Adult feed for adult cats in the amount of 2%, which fully provides your pet with the benefits of using prebiotics.
Which probiotic is most effective?
For a long time, the prevailing view was that cats did not need probiotic organisms, and the effectiveness of their use to improve the pet’s digestion was challenged many times. But over the past 20 years, the effectiveness of probiotics based on various types of enterococci, and in particular Enterococcus faecium SF68®, which has become the basis of the FortiFlora® probiotic supplement, has been proven. Regular addition of this supplement to the diet of a cat maintains the balance of its intestinal microflora and helps to ensure healthy digestion.