Can probiotics help your cat’s diarrhea? The answer is leaning towards “yes” based on a few studies done in felines.
Intestinal problems in your cat can be triggered by a variety of reasons such as viruses, bacteria and parasite infections. The majority of these problems will clear up on their own. However, if your cat has an increased incidence of acute or chronic diarrhea and isn’t thriving, it could be that the composition of her intestinal bacteria isn’t optimal. If this is the case, her intestinal defences will be lowered. She will have trouble preventing pathogens from causing intestinal problems and diarrhea.
There are a fair amount of products on the market to treat dogs and cats, but not all are high quality. Probiotic pet food is one example. A study performed in 2003 found that the majority of products did not contain what was advertised1. There are, however, specific cat probiotic supplements available, and I was able to find two clinical studies investigating cat probiotics and diarrhea: one preventative study2 and one treatment study3.
Cat Probiotics for Prevention of Diarrhea2
In this study, performed by Colorado State University, approximately 100 cats at an animal shelter were given Enterococcus faecium or a placebo daily for four weeks. A blinded individual examined the stool of the cats during treatment and for another four weeks after the treatment. They found that the incidence of severe diarrhea (≥2 days) was significantly reduced. Severe diarrhea was seen in 20.7% of the cats taking a placebo as opposed to 7.4% in the treatment group. Enterococcus faecium is also being marketed as a dog probiotic. If you would like to give it a try, the bacteria species can be found in Purina’s FortiFlora for cats.
Proviable-DC for the Treatment of Diarrhea3
Proviable-DC is a symbiotic formula. A synbiotic is a combination of a probiotic plus indigestible sugars that help promote beneficial bacteria growth. In another study at Colorado State University, researchers found 53 feline “volunteers” to test the commercial synbiotic. All the cats were given the product for 21 days, and the stool condition was compared before and after treatment. At the end of the study, the average stool condition of the cats had significantly improved, and 72% of the owners noticed an improvement. Proviable-DC can be bought on Amazon.
Even though feline probiotics may bring good results, it’s still wise to visit your local vet to have your cat’s health checked before starting them, just to ensure that there are no underlying, serious problems.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
1. Weese JS, Arroyo L. Bacteriological evaluation of dog and cat diets that claim to contain probiotics. Can Vet J 2003; 44(3): 212-216.
2. Bybee SN, Scorza AV, Lappin MR. Effect of the probiotic Enterococcus faecium SF68 on presence of diarrhea in cats and dogs housed in an animal shelter. J Vet Intern Med 2011; 25(4): 856-860.
3. Hart ML, Suchodolski JS, Steiner JM, Webb CB. Open-label trial of a multi-strain synbiotic in cats with chronic diarrhea. J Feline Med Surg 2012; 14(4): 240-245.