Digestive problems in cats are quite common and generally clear up after a few days although some will need longer term management.
The signs that your cat is suffering from digestive upset are the obvious ones of diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation and smelly or irregular looking stools.
There are a number of causes for digestive problems in cats including
- Something your cat has eaten
- Parasites – typically worms
- Pancreatic diseases – where the production of food digesting enzymes is disrupted
- A food allergy or sensitivity
When should you take them to the vet?
A bit of vomiting and diarrhoea is the body’s natural way of clearing the out the problem. It is nothing to worry about and not worth a trip to the vet. Just keep an eye on them and see if the symptoms start to improve.
You should take them to the vet if you see any of these
- The vomiting or diarrhoea is continuous or carries on for several hours or is getting worse
- The vomiting or diarrhoea carries on for more than 24 hours
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Signs of blood in the vomit or diarrhoea
- If they seem to be in pain
- If they seem tired or lethargic
If you see any of these signs, or if you are worried, then take them to the vet.
Importance of a healthy microbiome
The microbiome is the name for the trillions of bacteria, and other microorganisms that live in the gut.
The microbiome plays a key role in digesting food but also helps boost the immune system, regulates hormones, supports a healthy gut and even plays a role in mood – so a healthy microbiome is important.
In a healthy gut the microbiome is balanced meaning that the good bacteria are multiplying so well that they block the bad bacteria. When there is a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut it is said to be in equilibrium.
However, a simple digestive disorder can upset this delicate balance.
In a healthy dog or cat, the cells that form the lining of the gut are closely connected by means of ‘tight junctions’ that allow water and nutrients to pass through, while blocking harmful substances.
Inflammation in the gut can disrupt these tight junctions damaging the gut lining and making the gut barrier permeable – so called “leaky gut”. When this happens bacteria, allergens and toxins can pass into the bloodstream causing the development and progression of many, more serious, diseases, including obesity, diabetes, kidney and liver problems, colitis, IBD, skin problems (allergies), joint issues (Inflammation) and even behavioral problems.
Many cases of leaky gut arise from gradual and long-term intestinal damage caused by issues such as food allergies, long-term use of antibiotics or prolonged periods of digestive malabsorption and maldigestion.
Prolonged periods of digestive disorder can unbalance the microbiome with an overgrowth of bad bacteria and reduced levels of good bacteria, giving rise to inflammation.
While short term exposure may not always cause leaky gut, longer term exposure may damage the gut integrity, potentially resulting in even more serious conditions.
Digestive disorders need to be managed to avoid them becoming something more serious
Your cat needs nutrients
Whatever the cause of the upset the result is your cat isn’t getting sufficient nutrients and that needs to be addressed.
What sort of food can help?
The most important thing is to give foods that are highly digestible. This allows your cat get the nutrients they need even with their digestive system working at less than full speed. Highly digestible ingredients also help prevent further irritation to the stomach and means there is less undigested food in the gut to feed bad bacteria.
It should have extra nutrients: Diets designed for digestive upset often include higher levels of key vitamins and minerals to compensate for the poor abortion of these. The increased levels of electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate and chloride, in these diets replace those lost through diarrhoea and vomiting.
SPECIFIC Digestive Support diets also contain AuraGuard, an ingredient that supports the integrity of the gut wall by increasing the level of cell proteins involved in the formation, maintenance and structure of tight junctions It also helps to increase the production of the mucous that provides a protective lining on the gut wall.
SPECIFIC’s Digestive Support diets also contain multiple ingredients to restore a balanced microbiome and bring the gut back into good health. AuraGuard and fermentable fibres (beet pulp, XOS and FOS) increase the levels of beneficial bacteria and decrease the levels of bad bacteria, promoting a more balanced and diverse gut microbiome.
Added postbiotics provide the healthy bioactive compounds produced by beneficial bacteria, supporting the immune system and supporting a balanced inflammatory response.
Different digestive upset need different diets – ask your vet which diet is right for your pet
Maldigestion / Malabsorption / Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
In cases of maldigestion and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) the digestive process, is not working properly, leaving undigested food in the gut and reducing your cat's nutrient intake. Undigested food can be used by adverse bacteria, leading to diarrhoea.
Diets made with easy to digest ingredients and low fibre content maximise digestibility and increase nutrient absorption, helping your cat gets the nutrients they need and leaving less undigested food in the gut.
Fermentable fibres promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and beta-glucans support the body’s immune response. MOS (mannan-oligo-saccharides) bind to bad gut bacteria, preventing them from attaching to the intestinal wall and zeolite absorbs toxic components in the gut.
With AuraGuard, supporting gut barrier integrity and a healthy microbiome and postbiotics to further support a healthy gut microbiome
FID & FIW Digestive Support
Colitis / Inflammatory bowel disease
|Colitis and Inflammatory bowel disease are digestive upsets involving inflammation of the gut. Diets rich in omega-3 from fish oils can help by supporting the body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes. The condition may also involve an allergic reaction to food so hypoallergenic diets are also recommended||FOD-HY & FOW-HY Allergen Management Plus|
|Food allergy and intolerance||Digestive upset can be caused by a reaction to certain foods - food allergy and intolerance. Hypoallergenic diets are made with low allergen ingredients, reducing the risk of triggering a food reaction||
FDD-HY & FDW Food Allergen Management
FOD-HY & FOW-HY Allergen Management Plus
|Fibre-responsive chronic diarrhoea / Constipation||Fibre-responsive chronic diarrhoea and constipation are helped by high fibre diets that result in larger, softer stools that move more easily through the bowels||
FRD & FRW Weight Reduction
|Cholestasis||Cholestasis is a disease where the bile duct is blocked. Bile helps digest fat by breaking down large lipid droplets into smaller ones, so that fat can be more easily broken down by fat-digestive enzymes. Cats with cholestasis have a lack of bile so have poor fat digestion, so low-fat diets can support this condition||
FRD & FRW Weight Reduction
|Pancreatitis||In pancreatitis, the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas produces enzymes that break down fats and proteins and diets with reduced fat and protein levels give the pancreas some rest and a chance to recover.||FDD-HY & FDW Food Allergen Management|