Anyone who has ever owned or bred cats knows that they can be notoriously picky eaters. For example, many persnickety felines may turn their nose up at the same meal twice in a row.
Unfortunately for cat owners (and their carpeting), cats also have notoriously sensitive stomachs and are prone to vomiting or other gastrointestinal issues. Whether they’re trying to cough up a hairball or are reacting badly to their most recent snack, a heaving and retching cat is upsetting to everyone involved.
So, how can you ease your pet’s distress and support a healthier digestive system for your cat?
Get to Know Your Cat’s Gut Microbiome
In recent years, the idea of the gut microbiome has gotten some attention in human health circles. But did you know the same concept applies to your pets?
A microbiome is essentially a community of tiny microbes like bacteria and fungi. You and your cat both have microbiomes of helpful bacteria that live in the gut and help process food.
If your cat has consistent digestive issues, the health of its microbiome may be playing a role. The food your cat consumes can affect its microbiome for better or for worse, so the diet you provide can have an even greater impact on your kitty’s health than you may have realized. In short:
- A poor diet → an imbalanced microbiome → poor digestion → poor overall health
- A healthy diet → an efficient microbiome → healthy digestion → better overall health
Fortunately, some pet foods are now incorporating probiotic ingredients to help support gut health and a happy microbiome for your furry friends.
Provide a More Balanced Diet
With a diet optimized for a cat’s digestive system, you can help them feel healthier both inside and out. When considering your feline’s best possible diet, keep the following in mind:
- Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they need nutrients only found in animal products (like meat) to survive and cannot thrive with a vegetarian or vegan diet. That’s why cats evolved to be hunters in the wild.
- Supplements typically aren’t necessary for cats eating a complete diet. In fact, supplements can potentially be harmful to cats, so you shouldn’t give them to your kitty unless specifically directed by your veterinarian.
- If your cat eats dry food, store it in a cool, dry, airtight container. Also, moderate your impulse to buy dry food in bulk, as it can go rancid if stored too long. Check the expiration date to see if it should still be safe to feed to your cat.
- If your cat turns is fussy about repeated meals, try to serve them different flavors in a rotation. Biologists have suggested that this picky behavior is actually a survival tactic developed in the wild to help ensure a good spread of nutrients in their diet.
All commercially produced cat food in the U.S. must meet the minimum nutritional requirements for cats, as established by the Feline Nutrition Expert (FNE) Subcommittee of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). But for guidance in choosing a particular brand, your veterinarian can help you make educated decisions about what’s best for your cat. Don’t forget to ask them about probiotic foods — as we hinted in the last section, choosing pet food with probiotic ingredients can help support your cat’s gut health for better digestion.
Provide for Your Cat’s Unique Needs with Genetic Testing
Caring for your cat’s digestive system is just one way to prioritize their happiness and well-being. Easy, affordable DNA tests can help you recognize and address your cat’s other needs, as well.
Each cat is an individual (and will make sure you know it, too). Having your cat’s unique DNA profile — including what breeds are in their family tree — can help you understand their habits, behaviors, and even potential medical issues. With these factors in mind, you can tailor their lifestyle and diet to support peak health and longevity.
That’s why Orivet is committed to providing best-in-show genetic testing for your pets. With DNA insights from Orivet, you can provide your cat with the best possible care and give them the healthy and fulfilling nine lives they deserve.