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Health and wellbeing

How your cat's diet supports their digestion

Adult cat sitting down indoors on a wooden floor eating from a red bowl.
Every component of your cat's diet can be used to help support and manage their digestive sensitivities, from the right blend of fiber to high-quality protein.

All cats can suffer with digestive issues at some time in their life, but with the right diet you can help manage these sensitivities and alleviate any discomfort they may be feeling.

The role of protein in your cat's food

Protein is the building block of your cat's body, from skin and hair to claws and antibodies. It's also a source of glucose, which is essential for the proper functioning of your cat's brain, kidneys and red blood cells, and their main source of energy.

Unfortunately, protein can also be one of the main causes of digestive issues in cats. Highly digestible proteins can help alleviate their symptoms as these require the digestive tract to do less "work" for the nutrients to be absorbed. Hypoallergenic diets use single protein sources, such as hydrolyzed protein or proteins that are less common, to lower the likelihood of intestinal aggravation caused by allergenic reactions.

Fats in your cat's diet

Fat is a rich energy source for your cat, contributing over twice as much energy for the same weight when compared to protein or carbohydrate. Essential fatty acids are also important for the healthy functioning of certain organs, like skin, and fat can help start to reverse weight loss in cats with severe gastric disorders.

However, too much fat can irritate your cat's digestive tract, particularly if they are exhibiting symptoms of diarrhea. Your vet will be able to advise you on the right level of fat for your cat's condition, age and lifestyle to provide it with nutritional benefits and avoid unnecessary strain on their digestive system.

Cats and carbohydrate

Cats don't need carbohydrate in the same way that humans do, but it is a good source of glucose and can provide energy in their diet. There are some misconceptions that cats may suffer with gluten intolerances or celiac disease, just like humans, however, this has never been documented. That being said, some cats may be allergic to specific cereals, as such, rice is often used as an alternative carbohydrate in hypoallergenic food to avoid this specific problem.

Adult cat standing indoors eating from a silver bowl.

The use of fiber in your cat's diet

The right mix of fibers in your cat's food can contribute significantly to the health of their gastrointestinal tract. A high-fiber diet can help prevent hairballs from forming—a particular problem with indoor cats—as well as encouraging the natural motions of the gut. Soluble fiber can have a beneficial effect on the gastro-intestinal flow, and also regulate the microflora that live in your cat's digestive system.

Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in your cat's food

Your cat needs a complex mix of minerals and vitamins in trace amounts to help support the effective functioning of its body. Every vitamin and mineral has several different functions, such as vitamin E which works as a powerful antioxidant and nourishes the skin.

Pre- and pro-biotics can also be beneficial in managing your cat's digestive sensitivities. Prebiotics are non-digestible substrates or "platforms" on which beneficial gut bacteria are encouraged to grow, while probiotics are living organisms which positively impact the microflora in your cat's system. Both of these can be used to rebalance the bacteria present in your cat's digestive tract, supporting their continuing health.

Make sure to visit your vet if you believe you cat is experiencing digestive difficulties—they'll be able to advise on the best course of action and the right, balanced food to support your pet's health.

  • Digestive health

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