Understanding Your Cat’s Gut Health & Helpful Tips
Your cat's gut microbiome comprises billions of bacteria and other microbes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Many factors contribute to the composition of the gut's microbial community, such as diet, age, medications, and environment. These gut microbes in the microbiome can be healthy or harmful, significantly influencing your cat's gut and overall health.
A few things, such as infections, illnesses, parasites, and antibiotics, can intervene with the proper functioning of your pet's microbiome. Unfortunately, this can result in vomiting, constipation, digestive upset, or itchy skin. The good news is understanding and identifying the triggers can help you find the ideal solution to keep your feline friend healthy and thriving.
What is the Gut Microbiome?
The microbiome is a significant part of the digestive system, and how it functions influences your cat's gut health. It is a collection of all the microscopic microorganisms which live inside your cat's body and can include bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes.
Why is it Important to Support Gut Health in Cats?
Gut health is crucial for a cat, as good gut health can maximize nutrient absorption from food and promote better stools. The cells which line the large intestine also absorb the energy from the nutrients created by the microbiome after they break down food materials. Other benefits of supporting gut health in cats are a better immune system, reducing risk of diseases and healthy skin and coat.
Common Causes of Gut Problems in Cats
Cats can develop gut problems for various reasons; learn more about a few common causes below.
When cats groom themselves, they often ingest their hair. This hair typically passes through the cat's digestive tract and is excreted when your cat has a bowel movement. If the hair remains in their stomach, it may also come out of their system through hairballs. Hairballs are vomit containing a significant amount of hair, usually in the shape of a tube or cylinder. Although this is common, frequent ingestion of hairballs can be dangerous for some cats.
Your cat's current diet may not be ideal for its digestive health. If you notice your cat frequently experiencing digestive problems, such as vomiting or upset stomach, look into the current food you feed them. Do they offer the nutrients your cat needs to thrive? Will they benefit from a different flavour or recipe that better suits their life stage?
Constipation is a common problem in cats and can be corrected in some cases. However, cats with more serious illnesses can display more severe signs. If this is a recurring problem, the feces will remain in the colon for longer, drier, harder, and more difficult to pass. According to Merck Veterinary Manual, long-term constipation may result from an obstruction inside the intestines, constriction outside the intestines, or neuromuscular problems with the colon itself.
How to Keep Your Cat's Gut Healthy
Cats experience various gut health problems that can affect their quality of life. The good news is a few changes can attention to their lifestyle can help you boost your furry friend's gut health.
One of the most common gut problems is a result of hair ingestion that cats swallow when grooming themselves. You can reduce the number of hairballs by regularly grooming your cats yourself or with the help of a professional groomer.
Change Their Diet
The food your cat consumes plays a crucial role in their gut health. If something in your cat's health doesn't agree with them, it might be time to switch their food. You can choose cat food designed for digestive problems or switch to a raw diet. A key benefit of raw cat food is that it contains minimal ingredients and is easier for your cat to digest. Choose Bold by Nature for raw cat food in Canada, as their recipes are full of meats and vegetables made without added processes and are unproblematic to a cat's digestive system.
Encourage Water Consumption
One of the main culprits of gut problems is dehydration, and many felines tend not to drink enough water. However, hydration is vital for gut health. Encourage water consumption by placing water bowls in various places in your home. Keep the bowls away from the litter box and change the water in the bowl twice daily.