Best Cat Food for Digestion Problems
Is your cat experiencing digestion problems? What is the best cat food for digestion problems?
I was wondering this too, especially with my senior cats.
For a cat to live a long, happy and healthy life they need proper nutrition and care. One of the common issues cats face at some point during their life is digestive problems.
Generally, these can clear up in a short period of time but some issues are ongoing, requiring veterinary treatment and management. There are a number of possible causes for your cat’s digestive issues including; food sensitivity, hairballs, infection, parasites, disease or eating foreign objects.
Advice for Gastrointestinal Problems
Gut health plays an important role in a cat’s overall health as it is an important immune defence system. Food sensitivities and allergies are a common cause of digestive problems, therefore managing your cat’s diet is a vital aspect in treating gastrointestinal problems. You may need to adjust the type of food you are feeding as well as the amount and frequency in which it is being offered.
You can help alleviate your cat’s symptoms by feeding highly digestible food that:
- Contains quality animal sources
- Contains optimum levels of omega fatty acids
- Is low in carbohydrates
- Is nutritionally complete (including key vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphate, chloride and potassium)
A food produced specifically for cats with sensitive stomachs may also include beneficial supplements such as probiotics. Wet food tends to be a better option if your cat has diarrhea as it is more easily digested and helps to keep your cat hydrated, although feeding wet food over a long period of time can attribute to dental issues.
Any changes that are made to your cat’s diet should be carried out slowly to avoid any further digestive upset. You will need to gradually introduce the new food by starting off with 75% old food with 25% new food and over the next 7 – 10 days slowly decrease the amount of the old food and increase the amount of new food in the mix until it is all new food.
Food can be a trigger for gastrointestinal problems so you should offer your cat a food that is free from preservatives, artificial colors and flavors and does not contain any possible allergens including soy, grains, dairy and corn. Avoid high carbohydrate feed and choose poultry or rabbit rather than seafood, beef or pork.
Foods to avoid feeding your cat:
- Raw fish
- Onions, garlic and chives
- Raw eggs
- Fatty Foods
While food plays an important role in digestive issues, diet is just one part of the equation and there are other possible causes so it is important to take your cat to the vet for a thorough check to rule out diseases, infections and parasites.
Gastrointestinal problems can be acute (severe and sudden) or chronic (long-developing), they are quite common and most issues will clear up within a number of days.
Common Signs of Gastrointestinal Problems Include
- Vomiting or regurgitating
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea/ Constipation
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive hairballs
- Nausea (generally shows as licking of lips or drooling)
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, take them to the vet as soon as possible so the cause can be identified and the best treatment route for your cat can be determined.
As there are multiple causes of digestive disorders, diagnosing the issue is very important. During diagnosis, your vet may consider a physical examination, your cat’s medical history, a fecal test, blood and urine tests and food sensitivity tests.
Parasites (namely worms) are a common cause of gastrointestinal problems within cats. The most common intestinal worms found in cats are roundworms and tapeworms. Among other things, worms can cause digestive issues, diarrhea, dehydration and weight loss. A routine worming treatment is usually effective in preventing and treating worms.
Roundworms are very common in kittens as they can become infected via their mother’s milk. If you think your cat has worms, a vet will be able to diagnose this and will offer the best treatment route. The type of worm your cat has may impact the type of treatment they need. If worms are left untreated you will notice your cat has an increased appetite and yet they are losing weight and becoming weaker. Their fur may also look duller and coarser and your cat may seem in discomfort.
Healthy looking cats can have worms too so worming is an important part of routine pet care and prevention. General worming prevention should begin from a young age (3 weeks old) and should become a regular part of your cat’s health routine, older cats of more than 6 months old should receive worming every 1 – 3 months.
There are many brands of worming products available so it is advised you approach your vet for advice on the best prevention and treatment routes for your cat. You should also treat your cat for fleas to help prevent tapeworms. If your cat has been experiencing gastrointestinal problems due to parasites, they should be back to their healthy selves after the worming treatment.
Vitamins or Additives and Probiotics
If you are feeding your cat a good quality, balanced diet then additional supplements should not be necessary. However, if your cat is having digestive issues you can help by giving them probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that help to regulate digestive health at the benefit of your cat’s overall health.
Probiotics can be used to help treat a range of digestive-related issues and will help to boost your cat’s immune system as their immunity is closely linked to their digestive health. You can get probiotics that have been specifically designed and created for cats, they come in many forms including powders and tablets so you should be able to find one to suit your cat.
Benefits of probiotics
- Help maintain normal gut health
- Strengthen cat’s immune system
- Help treat acute diarrhea
- Help restore cat’s healthy gut bacteria after antibiotics
There are circumstances when your vet will recommend supplements but aside from this, it is not recommended that you offer your cat vitamin or mineral supplements as there are a number of unsafe supplements on the market that could worsen the condition you are trying to improve.
A high-quality cat food should provide your cat with the necessary nutrients. Therefore, vitamin and mineral supplements are only necessary if your cat has a specific medical condition that means they are deficient in, or unable to absorb, a certain nutrient.
Digestive problems can be unpleasant for you and your cat but they are generally easily treated. A trip to the vet will help you determine the cause of the problem and the best treatment route. Diet plays an important role so ensure you are offering highly digestible, good quality food to help reduce symptoms. Fortunately, many cats will fully recover from gastrointestinal problems in a short period of time.
Note – I am not a vet, and not pretending to be one on the internet. However, I have done a lot of research and gathered a lot of information about cats and tried to present it in an easy to digest manner.
That being said you still need to make sure you see a vet if you have any significant concerns about your cat’s health. This article is only intended to be a source of information.