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Caring for Cats With Sensitive Stomachs
By Jennifer Viegas
Cats can be notoriously picky, snubbing food left and right. A big -- and often messy -- clue that something is wrong may be in or around your cat’s litter box. If your cat’s bathroom habits are amiss, it could be suffering from dietary intolerance (aka a sensitive tummy). Once you’ve detected the signs, our experts suggest the following:
1. Rule out serious health issues.
Nelson, however, adds that something else might be to blame: “After a thorough work-up, if it is determined that the cat has dietary intolerance, pursuing a food that is highly digestible is recommended.”
2. Consider feeding your cat a low-residue cat food.
“The fiber sources should be moderately fermentable, as these produce lower amounts of gas than their more fermentable counterparts,” adds Nelson. Dried beet pulp is one such beneficial fiber.
Sensitive-stomach foods should also contain prebiotics to tailor the bacterial load in the GI tract. Dr. Amy Dicke, a technical services veterinarian for Iams, explains that “a prebiotic, such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), is a fiber, which is not digested by the enzymes in the dog’s or cat’s digestive tract. Instead, the bacteria in the intestinal tract break the fiber down and use it for food.” Continues Dicke: “What makes a prebiotic different from other fibers is it feeds (or supports) the good bacteria (not the bad), helping the good bacteria to grow.”
3. Pay attention to your cat’s entire digestive system.
Dr. Joann Young, a veterinarian in Dover, N.H., is also adept at caring for kitty teeth. “Almost three out of four cats have tooth and gum disease by age 3, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society,” says Young. It is the No. 1 diagnosed problem in small-animal clinics today.”
Tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums and even tooth loss are all symptoms of dental disease. “Problems begin when food particles and bacteria build up in the cat’s mouth, forming plaque and tartar, causing gingivitis and severe periodontal disease,” says Young. “These bacteria can enter the pet’s bloodstream and damage the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs, according to research.” Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly and scheduling regular cleanings (especially if your cat will not tolerate home tooth-brushings) is therefore essential to your pet’s overall health.
4. Find a good diet for your cat and stick to it.
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Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.
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