Most of the time, when we're talking about nutrition for cats and kittens, we're discussing bugs in a bad way. We work hard, as dedicated pet parents, to ensure that our cats don't take in nasty little creatures that could make them sick. And often, those sick-making critters come in the form of bacteria.
But, there are some instances where a little bit of bacteria could do a cat body a lot of good.
Consider Fergus the kitten here. When he contracted giardia and developed terrible diarrhea that went on and on with no end in sight, his treatment options were limited. He was too young and too small for the typical medications veterinarians throw at giardia. I needed to find a way to boost his immune system to help him fight back.
So I was happy to meet a representative from 21st Century Pet at BlogPaws this summer. She sent me home with a pre and probiotic product to try.
Unlike most probiotic products for pets, this supplement doesn't come in a powder format. Instead, it comes in a yummy treat formulation. Fergus will willingly eat this out of my hand, as he thinks the taste is pretty good. And it's soft and supple enough for him to chew without choking.
Each little supplement contains a number of different strains of pre and probiotics, including lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum and enterococcus thermophilus. Fergus needs just a half of a tablet, once per day, to get the recommended dose. And this canister has 100 tablets in it, so this jar will last me for quite some time.
My veterinarian often recommends using products like this when dealing with digestive issues, such as diarrhea or vomiting. Boosting the flora in the gut can help the immune system to restore balance to that gut, and that could help sick kitties feel a whole lot better.
And, if research on humans can apply to pets, probiotics could do a whole lot more. Research exposed last year suggests that bad bugs in the gut can trigger the release of chemicals that can lead to symptoms of psychosis or depression. (I know it sounds weird, but it's true! Read the research and see for yourself.) By boosting gut flora for Fergus, I could be helping him to retain his happy nature.
Most products from 21st Century Pet are sold at PetSmart chains. I feel reasonably confident you could try it for yourself, if you head to PetSmart and ask about it. I think one jar runs for about $10.
Before you buy, you probably want to know if Fergus feels better. The answer is "yes," but I'm not sure if the probiotics are 100 percent behind that recovery. He did get a few doses of wormer to rid his body of giardia, and that may have helped quite a bit. He also just got older and bigger, so he may have worked through the infection on his own.
But I do give him these treats to help him maintain his happy litter box episodes. I think they help.
Do you give your cats supplements? What do you use? Leave me a note in the comments, won't you?
Disclaimer: I was given a sample of this product to try as an attendee of a conference. No money changed hands in return for this review, and all opinions are my own.