Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common diagnosis in cats and is responsible for triggering chronic and debilitating digestive symptoms. In this article, we will review the use of cat probiotics for IBD therapy. 

Studies show that the microbiota plays a major role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease in cats. Since probiotics support the healthy microbiome, it is safe to assume they can help with IBD. 

Keep reading as we talk about the different types of good bacteria that can be used to manage chronic GI tract conditions such as the notorious inflammatory bowel disease or IBD. 

Are Probiotics Good for Cats with IBD?

Probiotics For Cats With IBD

Yes, when used following the manufacturer's guidelines and in accordance with the vet's therapy plan, probiotics can be helpful for cats with inflammatory bowel disease

Considering the plethora of benefits that probiotics provide to cats, it’s pretty evident that using a good quality product from a credible brand can improve your cats' gastrointestinal health. 

However, make sure you never settle for probiotics or supplements for humans because they are not designed for a cat’s gut flora population.

Benefits of Probiotics for Cats with IBD

There are many popular forms available to help you choose the best probiotics for cats with IBD. You can choose from capsules, pills, and powders. 

The key to finding the best one for your cats is to opt for a supplement with a high number of CFU or Colony Forming Units. That’s because using a diverse array of probiotics is better than choosing just one type of bacteria.

The most beneficial strains for cats include Enterococcus families and Bifidobacterium. Typically, Bifidobacterium lives in the small intestine, and Enterococcus is present in the large intestine or colon.

When it comes to promoting good gut health, each strain has different and unique benefits. While Bifidobacterium promotes digestion for digesting a complex cat food formula, Enterococcus helps the formation of normal feces for maintaining good colonic health.

If you are not sure whether your cat with a diagnosis of IBD can benefit from probiotics or which probiotic formula to use, do not hesitate to talk to your trusted vet. 

Can Probiotics Make IBD Worse?

While probiotics offer plenty of benefits to relieve and promote digestion, there isn’t too much evidence suggesting that they can worsen already existing IBD symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

The decision to opt for probiotics to treat your cat’s digestion and gut problems by reducing inflammation should be made only after a professional veterinarian has examined your cat.

However, if you notice that your cat’s symptoms or condition are not improving, discontinue the supplement’s use and get in touch with your veterinarian even after using probiotics.

What Causes IBD in Cats?

are human probiotics good for cats

IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) refers to a chronic inflammatory condition of the gut. In cats, IBD is among the most common causes of colitis that affect various digestive tract parts. In case IBD affects the stomach, we call it gastritis, but when it involves the small intestine, we refer to it as enteritis. Colitis is when IBD affects the colon.

In this medical condition, inflammatory cells penetrate the intestinal walls to disrupt normal digestion. Although factors that trigger IBD in cats are unknown, veterinarians believe that it is because of the outcome of complex interaction between the microbiome, cat food, and the immune system.

It should be noted that IBD is often confused with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) – a specific gastrointestinal disorder in humans. 

Signs Your Cat has IBD

The exact clinical manifestation depends on the IBD's type and location. For instance, if your cat’s small intestine or stomach is inflamed, your pet usually vomits a lot. However, if their large intestine (colon) is affected, then you can notice symptoms like bloody stools or diarrhea. 

However, generally speaking, common signs and symptoms that indicate IBD in cats include:

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

  • Bloody stools

  • Loss of appetite

  • Lethargy

Your veterinarian will diagnose IBD after running a few tests such as fecal examination, baseline blood work, abdominal ultrasound, and X-rays. The vet must ensure whether your feline is suffering from intestinal lymphoma, bacterial or parasitic infections, or some other metabolic disease.

Since IBD can prevent the absorption of folate and B Vitamins B12 from the gastrointestinal tract, your vet may also order a test to measure their levels in your cat. If the vet wants to rule out any food allergy, he will conduct a hypoallergenic food trial to see if there is anything in your cat food that is troubling your pet. 

How Long does it Take for Probiotics to Work for IBD in Cats?

Considerations and Risks of Probiotics for Cats

Typically, probiotics can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks before delivering significant results. The performance of these supplements also depends on various factors, such as:

  • The severity of your cat’s symptoms (bloody stools, vomiting)

  • The intestinal microbiota balance or imbalance 

  • Your cat's overall health profile

It should be noted that the live microorganisms from the probiotics start working as soon as they reach the cat's intestines. However, the visible effects of that interaction may take several days or even weeks.

Using Probiotics for Your Cat's IBD Treatment

The treatment methods for inflammatory bowel disease comprise a mix of nutritional therapies and medication. Your veterinarian will usually prescribe a therapeutic meal plan by recommending you to avoid over-the-counter pet food for your ailing cat. As for prescription meds, the vet will suggest antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and immunomodulators. 

Cat owners must understand that any chronic feline GI disease, such as IBD, does not have a cure. However, with medication and a healthy diet, you can relieve this condition. It takes time to determine the best dietary supplements and dietary choices for their cats to help them relieve IBD symptoms. 

It would help if you communicated with your veterinary care team to improve your pet’s quality of life by introducing beneficial supplements such as probiotics for cats with IBD.

When adding probiotics to a cat with inflammatory bowel disease, it is critical to start with a smaller dose and gradually work your way up as the pet gets used to the new supplement. Gradual implementation is vital even when introducing beneficial bacteria to healthy cats.

How to Choose the Best Probiotic for IBD in Cats

happy cat with eyes closed

Now that you know about how the right probiotic supplements can benefit your cat’s GI tract, the big question remains: How to choose the best cat probiotic supplement?

The market offers dozens of different probiotic formulas. Since not all supplements are made the same and label claims can be confusing, shopping for cat probiotics is easier said than done. 

Here are several essential considerations you need to keep in mind when choosing the best probiotic for your feline friend. 

Several Strains of Bacteria. The probiotics should include various strains of beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium animalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus coagulans, or Lactobacillus acidophilus. This is because different bacteria are associated with different health benefits – some support healthy gut flora, others have anti-inflammatory properties, and some boost the immune system. 

Number of Colony Forming Units (CFU). It is not just the type of good bacteria that matters – the right probiotic formula will have to have them in enough amounts. The number of good bacteria in a supplement is measured with Colony Forming Units and generally speaking, the higher the number, the better the probiotic's efficacy. 

Inclusion of Prebiotics. Probiotics need prebiotics or dietary fiber to survive. Prebiotics serve as a food source for good gut bacteria and have several other health benefits. In addition to prebiotics, some probiotic supplements include vitamins, minerals, and digestive enzymes

Free from Low-Quality Ingredients. Pick a product free of common allergens like dairy, grains, soy, and single proteins. Also, make sure the probiotic supplement does not contain GMO ingredients and cheap fillers. You do not want the added ingredients worsening your cat's inflammatory bowel disease. 

Probiotic Supplement Form and Flavor. Probiotics come in different forms – powders, capsules, chewable treats, liquids. Choose the probiotic form that is easy for you to use and acceptable for your cat. Since cats are known for their fussy eating habits, check the different flavor options and choose your cat's favorite.  

Reputable and trustworthy brand. Pet parents should only stick to credible brands and reputed supplements when choosing the best cat probiotic. A reputable brand will be transparent about its ingredients and manufacturing practices. Don’t forget to check out other customers' feedback who have used the supplements you want to test on your cat whenever you purchase a new product. 

What is the Best Probiotic for Cats with IBD?

The Honest Paws Pre + Probiotic is the best option for cats with IBD. Made with human-grade and high-quality ingredients and manufactured in a GMP-certified facility in the USA, the supplement ticks all boxes for safety, efficacy, and quality. 

Let's take a closer look at the different components included in the formula: 

  • Inulin – chicory naturally contains inulin that is converted into short-chain fatty acids. They nourish cells, help with digestive health and provide various other health benefits. 

  • Solarplast® – also known as spinach leaf extract, provides a host of benefits for healthy aging, optimizing the body’s processes through cellular restoration and repair. 

  • DE111® – DE111®  is a clinically studied strain of Bacillus subtilis that delivers digest and immune health benefits and helps maintain healthy gut flora.

  • Bacillus coagulans – helps support proper digestion and bowel health by modulating the mucosal bacteria. It protects the intestinal lining from infections and inflammations (inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Clostridium infections). 

  • Bifidobacterium animalis lactis – supports healthy digestion. It also helps cats recover from illness and prolonged uses of antibiotics and other medications. This bacterium has strong anti-inflammatory properties. 

  • Bifidobacterium longum – helps maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract and helps keep the gut microbiome in balance. 

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – assists intestinal health and immune function. It has the ability to soothe the GI tract, increase the absorption of nutrients, and support vitamin B synthesis. It can also provide relief for skin issues. 

  • Lactobacillus plantarum – a very resistant strain that supports normal digestive health and improves the function of the gastrointestinal system. This bacterium enhances liver health and is efficient in managing diarrhea. 

Plus, the supplement features a natural roasted chicken flavor and comes pre-packed in individual single-dose (5 billion CFU) sachets for easy use and administration. 

Our Final Thoughts on Probiotics for Cats with IBD

If your cat suffers from inflammatory bowel disease and you are looking for a natural, safe, and efficient solution, free from side effects, you have come to the right place. 

Cat probiotics are a health-boosting supplement that can help with a variety of GI tract conditions, including specific inflammatory ailments like IBD. 

Honest Paws is a one-stop solution for all your dog and cat-related problems and tips for choosing the best treatment plans for your pets.