On the supermarket health-goods aisle you'll see plenty of packaging promoting the benefits of probiotics. Probiotics might aid in keeping people's digestive tracts in a healthy state, and they appear to do the same for cats. FlortiFlora nutritional supplements, manufactured by Purina, are one such probiotic formulated just for felines.
In a healthy gut, there are good and bad bacteria. To keep your -- or Kitty's -- gastrointestinal tract in good condition, you want a balance between the two. Probiotics, consisting of live microorganisms, are believed to inhibit dangerous bacteria while aiding digestion and boosting immunity. By maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract, probiotics help the immune system protect itself from germs that cause all sorts of maladies. Healthy guts can filter out certain environmental toxins and other harmful substances.
What Probiotics Help
According to the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Services, evidence points to probiotics aiding cats and dogs dealing with diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, malabsorption, overgrowth of intestinal bacteria and digestive difficulties. However, the center's website notes, "Manufacturer claims for these preparations frequently are poorly supported by well-controlled studies."
FortiFlora's manufacturer, Purina Veterinary Diets, describes its product as a cat nutritional supplement -- that it's more than just a probiotic. FortiFlora's contents include the probiotics Enterococcus faecium, which are live, naturally occurring microorganisms. FortiFlora also has vitamins A, C and E, all antioxidants that promote a healthy immune system. Taurine, an essential amino acid for cats, is also in the mix. Other ingredients include betacarotene, zinc proteinate, salt, ferrous sulfate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate and maganese proteinate. FortiFlora's guaranteed analysis states that it each package contains a minimum of 43 percent crude protein, 12 percent minimum crude fat, 1 percent maximum crude fiber and 5 percent maximum moisture.
Designed for palatability, you simply sprinkle FortiFlora powder over your cat's food. Feed one packet a day with Kitty's meal. The Purina Veterinary Diets website notes that this is a guideline, so your vet might adjust the amount for proper weight maintenance. Each contains a month's supply of 30 packets, although your vet might recommend more than one daily packet for a very large cat. While generally safe, your vet might not recommend it for use in a severely immune-compromised animal.
Besides regular use for maintaining intestinal health, you can also give FortiFlora to help cats experiencing diarrhea. Since diarrhea has various causes, check with your vet before giving the supplement. The product is safe for use in kittens and helps those experiencing soft stools or diarrhea. Purina Veterinary Diets recommends FortiFlora for cats suffering from diarrhea because of dietary changes or antibiotic treatment. It can also help if the diarrhea is stress-related. For example, perhaps you've recently moved or added another pet or person to the household. Cats like routines, so any change can upset a sensitive feline.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.