Probiotics have the power to both help and cause diarrhea in your cat. Full of live microorganisms, probiotics swarm your cat's gastrointestinal tract to help soothe and calm a cranky bowel. Some short-term side effects occur early on, but soon his bathroom habits regulate and make for a happier kitty.
Good Guys To the Rescue
No doubt you've had some experience when your cat required antibiotics to help kill off an infection. Probiotics work in a similar way, but work much like fighting fire with fire. Instead of containing medication designed to kill bad bacteria, probiotics contain live cultures of beneficial bacteria. These good guys essentially take on the bad, disease-causing bacteria that have taken up residence and caused illness or other issues.
What They're For
Every living creature requires a certain amount of helpful bacteria in their gut to help break down food, form waste and, well, keep things moving properly. Too much bad bacteria interferes with this process, leading to diarrhea, stomach problems and other bowel issues. Probiotics level the playing field by killing the bad bacteria and settling in to help heal the sensitive tissues needed for waste disposal. GI issues, digestion problems and allergies can all benefit from balancing the proper bacteria inside your cat.
When dealing with the delicate balance of good versus evil bacteria in a cat's gut, there are usually going to be some side effects. As your cat first starts taking the probiotics, he may develop or continue to have diarrhea for a few days. This is normal as the bacteria battle for supremacy. Once the tide turns and the good bacteria start overtaking the bad, his bouts of diarrhea should fade, and leave him feeling better.
Types of Probiotics
One of the most well-known probiotics for humans is yogurt, so you'd think offering your kitty a few licks would offer an easy solution. While this may technically work, keep in mind that cats generally don't tolerate diary well, meaning you could be giving him another reason to have diarrhea in an attempt to help stop it. Besides, the number of live cultures in yogurt is debatable, and may not help him at all in the end. Speak with your vet for recommendations on high quality, trusted sources of probiotics for your cat and use them only as directed and with your vet's guidance.
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images