Healthy digestion - healthy cat
Digestive problems in catsDr. Birgit Leopold-Temmler
‘Your cat needs healthy intestinal flora and an intact intestinal mucous membrane in order to digest food and absorb nutrients. That is why I recommend including specific nutrients that are beneficial to the digestive tract in the diet. This can improve the intestinal health of your cat and reduce nutrition-related complaints.’ Specialist veterinarian Dr Birgit Leopold-Temmler
Problems in the digestive tract of a cat, whether they take the form of diarrhoea, constipation, worms, giardia, pancreatitis or feed intolerance, affect not only the general health of the cat but also its well-being. The digestive tract of a cat, which includes the intestines, stomach and pancreas, has cat-specific intestinal flora and its own immune and nervous system, and is therefore critically important for cat health. This is reason enough to support healthy digestion in cats, for example by providing substances that soothe the digestive tract and help build healthy intestinal bacteria, i.e. the microflora of the intestines. Both can be achieved by a tasty paste, such as the Gastro Intestinal Paste from GimCat’s Expert Line, which is recommended by vets and also has a reward effect and strengthens the connection between the cat and ‘its’ tin-opener.
Two in one: GimCat’s gastrointestinal paste is not only an ideal solution for supporting a healthy intestinal flora, it can also be offered as a tasty treat. Cats are very keen on this paste because it tastes so good.
The stomach and intestines of a cat are sensitiveCats are specialist feeders with particular requirements when it comes to diet. Some cats also display particular sensitivities about their feed. This can often be seen when a cat that used to like a particular food refuses it after a while. The cat is hungry, shows that it wants to be fed, but turns its back on the full feed bowl as if insulted. Cats are certainly gourmets and so can be very picky, but fastidious feeding can conceal an intolerance reaction. The cat may then refuse a particular feed because it feels unwell after eating it. Some cats also react to stress by developing gastrointestinal symptoms: they start retching or vomiting even though their digestive system is healthy.
Cats are specialist feeders, with particular requirements when it comes to diet. Their digestive tract has cat-specific intestinal flora and its own immune and nervous system, and is therefore very important to the cat’s health.
Common digestive problems in cats and their symptomsOn average, cats vomit more than dogs, for example. This is partly because the vomiting centre in the brain of the cat is very easily activated. Vomiting can also be caused simply by hairs swallowed during grooming. Cats can also vomit because of constipation. There are of course also more serious conditions that can lead to vomiting. Diarrhoea is also more common in cats. The possible causes are very varied, in the case of both acute and chronic diarrhoea, and so the cat should always be examined by a vet. Pancreatitis in cats, i.e. inflammation of the pancreas, is also regarded in the broader sense as a digestive disorder. However, unlike pancreatitis in dogs, pancreatitis in cats does not cause any symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting or abdominal pain. The cat may simply stop eating. So a cat that has lost its appetite should also undergo examination of the pancreas.
Diseases of the digestive tract in catsAs there are so many possible causes, a cat with signs of a digestive disorder, such as diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation or loss of appetite, must always undergo systematic, thorough examinations, including lab tests, X-rays and ultrasound.
Parasites, bacterial and viral infectionsA cat suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea should always be examined to ascertain whether a parasite infestation, e.g. involving worms and especially giardia (single-cell organisms) is present. Giardia infestation can be very difficult to treat and cause repeated slimy, sometimes bloody diarrhoea. Cats that are in good general health but suffer frequent diarrhoea should, to be on the safe side, also be examined for other pathogens, such as Tritrichomonas foetus, and for coccidia. It is very important to examine the intestinal flora. Bacteriological examination of the cat's droppings will indicate whether the intestinal flora is healthy and whether any pathogenic bacteria (e.g. E. coli, Campylobacter spec.) are present. Coronavirus infection can cause temporary diarrhoea.
Expert's tip!All cats benefit from healthy intestinal flora. This is particularly true of cats with chronic digestive problems and/or problems with their immune defence. You can boost your cat’s health by giving it a complex of active ingredients that help build health intestinal bacterial flora while protecting the sensitive mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines.
IBD and „triaditis“ in catOther possible and common causes of digestive disorders include feline inflammatory bowel disease or ‘IBD’ for short. The characteristics of the anatomy of cats mean that the liver and pancreas are also often affected. This condition is called ‘triaditis’ (inflammation of the intestines, liver and pancreas) and requires specific, multimodal treatment. Feed intolerance can play a part in IBD, meaning that a special dietary feed may be necessary.
Other causes of digestive disordersAcute, frequent vomiting and/or diarrhoea with a sudden decline in the cat's general condition may be due to an intestinal obstruction caused by swallowing a foreign body (part of a toy, for instance) or a hairball. In Maine Coon cats, consideration should always be given to intestinal invagination as a cause, since this breed is statistically predisposed to this condition. It is a condition in which a part of the intestine folds into the section next to it, which shows a typical finding on an ultrasound scan. If an intestinal obstruction of whatever cause exists, immediate action, usually surgery, is necessary. If the cat displays chronic digestive problems and loses a considerable amount of weight, it is vital to look for other causes, which in case of doubt may also be found outside the gastrointestinal tract. Examples include feline diabetes mellitus, feline hyperthyroidism and chronic renal failure (CRF). Unfortunately, alimentary feline lymphoma is also one of the possible causes of digestive disorders. Cats with IBD are at greater risk of this condition and so need to be monitored closely.
Role of intestinal floraPractically all digestive disorders whose causes lie in the intestines involve intestinal flora malfunction. But even a healthy digestive tract will benefit from actions to support its microflora. The importance and meaning of the ‘microbiome’ of a cat’s intestines have only recently been discovered. The results of studies in this area can be simply summarised as: Healthy intestinal flora - healthy cat! In many diseases, supporting the intestinal flora is critical especially in the recovery or convalescence phase. This is because of the key role that digestion plays in general health and the immune system. Scientists have now found that this is also true for cats.
Key factors in the maintenance requirements of adult cats*Based on dry matter. The concentration data relate to an energy density of 4.0 kcal/g. The data must be corrected for feeds with a higher energy density. Correction is not required for feeds with a lower energy density. Source: Klinische Diätetik für Kleintiere [Clinical Dietetics for Small Animals], volume 1, Michael S. Hand, 2002, p. 402
Promoting a healthy digestion - tips and tricksAs the basis of a healthy digestion, a balanced, high-quality feed that meets your cat's requirements with the right composition is important. Cat feed should, irrespective of whether it is prepared feed or raw feed, be easily digestible. This is beneficial to the cat's digestive tract, which can be very sensitive. Cats consume several small meals a day. This should ideally be taken into account. If your cat tends to overeat, an automatic feeder can be useful and prevent it putting on too much weight.
How to help your cat's digestion stay healthy
- Provide high-quality, easily digestible cat feed.
- Remember that cats naturally eat several small meals a day.
- Offer a specific complex of active ingredients to promote healthy intestinal flora, ideally in the form of a tasty paste that cats find appealing. This ensures that the complex of active ingredients actually ‘reaches’ the cat's intestines.
- If your cat has had a digestive disorder, it will need a very light diet and effective support to restore its intestinal flora.
- Avoid or reduce stress to your cat. Cats also get upset stomachs when they suffer stress!
- Overweight cats are more prone to digestive problems. Prevent this by, for example, using an automatic feeder and making sure your cat gets plenty of exercise.