The best probiotics for cats combine efficacy, quality control, and palatability. They’re made by reputable companies and grounded in the latest research. That’s why we’ve chosen FullBucket Health’s probiotic blend as the overall best probiotic supplement for cats.
Featuring a thoroughly researched probiotic strain with prebiotic and enzyme support, this supplement is intended to support your cat’s digestive health and overall wellbeing.
But with limited customer reviews and a high price, this probiotic supplement isn’t for every cat. To help you find the right probiotic for your cat, we’ve also included nine more of the best probiotics on the market.
At a Glance: Best Probiotics for Cats on the Market Today
Want a quick look at the products reviewed in this article? We’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
- Powdered supplement is easy to administer
- Naturally flavored with chicken and fish
- 5 billion CFUs per 1-gram scoop
- Individually packaged to stay fresh between uses
- One capsule contains 5 billion CFUs
- May help relieve occasional loose stools and digestive upset
Why Should You Trust Us?
To find the top 10 best probiotics for cats, I’ve examined product listings, consulted with experts, read customer reviews, browsed cat health forums, and dived into scientific publications and resources like the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the NIH’s in-depth report on probiotics.
And because the probiotics space is plagued by fake customer reviews, I put the reviews’ veracity to the test on FakeSpot.com.
Do Cats Need Probiotics?
Probiotics can benefit cats, but is there a historical or evolutionary precedent for feline probiotic consumption?
Like all animals, your cat’s natural prey has their own microbiome, which is the population of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi) that live inside the body and on the skin. So, that tasty meal consisting of a fresh mouse or bird comes with a variety of both good and bad bacteria. What’s more, a bite-size pocket of fermenting plant matter and microorganisms is built into every meal.
Externally, prey animals have feathers, hair, teeth, claws, and other indigestible animal tissue. For a carnivore, this may serve a purpose similar to plant fiber. Fiber is a prebiotic, helping to promote probiotic activity in the gut and move food through the gut.
Just as humans have been eating probiotic-rich fermented foods for thousands of years, so have cats historically consumed probiotic material. This suggests that a modern-day diet lacks the beneficial organisms found in a cat’s natural prey. Unfortunately, a modern-day diet lacks the beneficial organisms found in a cat’s natural prey.
Here’s How Probiotics Can Help
You’ve probably heard some of the grandiose claims made by probiotic peddlers.
- MaryRuth’s Liquid Probiotics for Cats “Provides defense from emotional and physiological stressors”.
- PremoPet’s Premo Probiotic for Cats “will even cut LITTERBOX SMELL!”
- According to the product’s Amazon listing, iDash’s probiotic supplement “strengthens bones and muscles”.
In reality, the microbiome and its relationship with the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, and every other part of the body, is impossibly complex. It’s logical to anticipate benefits from tossing extra bugs into the billions already populating the body, but we don’t know precisely how far those benefits go.
Given the importance of the microbiome, it’s plausible that probiotics could have an impact on emotional health, bone and muscle strength, and other aspects of general health, but these benefits are little more than hypothetical at this stage.
Researchers have only scratched the surface of the human microbiome, and we know even less about the feline microbiome.
Cats can definitely benefit from probiotic supplementation, especially if they are suffering from diarrhea or other forms of digestive distress. If your cat has inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), probiotic supplementation should be part of your treatment plan.
Probiotics for IBS, IBD, and General GI Problems
Because probiotics both promote a healthy community of microorganisms and stabilize barriers in the digestive tract, they can protect the body from inflammatory substances, help the microbiota to flourish after antibiotic therapy, and aid in recovery after digestive disturbances.
According to several controlled trials, probiotic supplementation can reduce food’s transit time through the GI tract, improve stool consistency, and increase stool frequency. This means that in addition to reducing diarrhea, probiotics can treat constipation.
Probiotics for Immune Function
Certain genes and compounds derived from probiotics mediate immunoregulatory effects, enhancing innate immunity (the body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders) and modulating inflammation. Therefore, probiotics can help cats with immune-related diseases like allergies or infections.
Probiotics for Chronic Kidney Disease
IIn chronic kidney disease (CKD), the kidneys have reduced ability to detoxify the body. Instead of being filtered out in the kidneys, bacteria and endotoxins (toxins released by bacteria) have no choice but to enter the gut. Theoretically, probiotic supplementation can perform a sort of “enteric dialysis”, doing in the gut what the kidneys can no longer do.
Cats with kidney disease are often given a synergized prebiotic and probiotic called Azodyl as part of their diet. Azodyl is marketed specifically for these cats and, according to some research, can help to move toxins and bacteria out of the gut and bloodstream, helping your cat to feel better.
Azodyl’s efficacy is unclear, but it doesn’t hurt your cat. And when they’re suffering from a chronic illness like CKD, there’s no harm in trying it out. Probiotics can increase an overall sense of wellbeing, which is definitely a good thing for CKD kitties and every cat.
Probiotics for Cats on Antibiotics
Antibiotics can wipe out both good and bad bacteria. Regular doses of a probiotic supplement help to rebuild the friendly populations destroyed during antibiotic therapy.
Probiotics and antibiotics can be friends if you give them to your cat together. You don’t have to wait until antibiotic therapy is complete. Instead, give your cat a probiotic a few hours before or after each antibiotic treatment. Your veterinarian can give you guidance on how to time giving probiotics during antibiotic treatment.
How Do You Choose Probiotics for Your Cat?
Seek Out Bacterial Species With a Reputation for Effectiveness
Currently, the only way you can do this is through a fecal transplant. Because the feces are taken from a healthy animal of the same species, fecal transplants represent the full range of microbiota found in the feline gut.
Instead of expecting humans to figure out exactly what’s going on inside of your cat’s gut and replicate it, this transplant allows us to draw out what is there, named or nameless, and move it from one cat to another.
Probiotic supplements lack this sophistication.
Because we don’t know enough about the feline microbiome to create this dream supplement, most people opt for the shotgun approach and select the probiotic with the most strains.
Remember that you’re introducing living organisms to your cat’s inner ecosystem, and like any other ecosystem, your cat’s microbiome is competitive. If you attempt to colonize with too many species, competition and dilution could result. Furthermore, it’s likely that you’re getting only a small amount of each strain and therefore not getting the full therapeutic effect of each strain.
Look for probiotics made with several thoroughly-researched species and strains.
Don’t underestimate the importance of probiotic viability. Colony forming units (CFUs) are a measure of that viability, indicating the number of live and active bacteria per probiotic dose.
Remember that when you buy a probiotic supplement, you’re not buying capsules of inert white or tan powder. You’re buying a jar of tiny bugs. Unless handled with care, the rigors of storage and transport will kill them before they reach their would-be home inside your cat’s body.
When Labdoor performed microbiological testing on 37 of the United States’ best-selling probiotics, they found that: “Total viable bacteria ranged from 0% to 308% of the products’ stated label claims.”
Dead bugs aren’t as beneficial as live ones, so you need to ensure that you’re getting well-handled, humanely treated probiotics.
Without the ability to test a probiotic supplement in a lab, that’s hard to do.
Instead, Let the Product’s Reputation Tell You Part of the Story.
While these factors are no guarantee of quality, human-grade products and those with the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) quality seal may be more likely to live up to the promises on the label.
It’s Also Important To Make Sure That Your Probiotics Are Stored Correctly.
While some—including yeast and freeze-dried probiotics in tablets or capsules—stay fresh on the shelf, other probiotics require refrigeration to stay fresh. If you buy a probiotic that needs to be refrigerated, make sure that it’s stored under refrigeration and shipped as quickly as possible.
Will the Milk Test Tell Me Whether or Not the Probiotics Are Alive?
This test involves mixing a probiotic supplement with milk, letting it sit for 24 hours, and observing whether or not the milk ferments into yogurt. If the milk goes sour and creamy, the probiotics are deemed viable. If not, they’re pronounced dead.
While the test is a valuable indicator of viability in certain probiotic strains, it’s not universally reliable. Not all probiotic strains ferment milk and some non-probiotic additives do. Coatings and supplement format may also impede the bacteria’s ability to ferment milk.
You Can’t Always Trust Customer Reviews
Reviews of probiotics are generally less trustworthy than those of other products. Here’s why—charlatans love supplements.
Whether health supplements are peddled for cats or humans, their purported benefits are usually vague, making those benefits easy to exaggerate and hard to refute. And because probiotics are so little understood but so full of potential, it’s easy to make bold claims without pushback.
Gushy reviews may be a reflection of a great-quality product, but they could be deceptive.
Before adding any product to our list of top probiotics, I checked its trust score on FakeSpot to ensure that the positive reviews were trustworthy. When doing your own shopping, this is always a good idea, especially when shopping for something pushed as panacea.
Can Cats Use Human Probiotics?
Everything we know about probiotics for cats is based on our experience with humans and other animals.
Buying probiotics for pets doesn’t mean that you’re getting a mix of strains that’s targeted to the feline microbiome, because people don’t know enough about the feline microbiome to create such a supplement.
Therefore, feline-specific probiotics aren’t necessarily better for your cat than a supplement packaged for humans. In fact, human-oriented products often give you better quality for a lower price.
Cat-specific probiotics, however, have an advantage in the flavor department. This brings us to our next point.
Look For Palatable, Easy-To-Feed Probiotics.
Probiotics come in a variety of forms. You can get them in pills, powders, and liquids. Pet probiotics may be flavored with animal digest, which is made from hydrolyzed animal tissue and is incredibly tasty to cats. If you’ve ever given your cat a Temptations treat, you’ll know how much cats love this flavor additive.
Are There Any Side Effects and How Much Should You Give Your Cat?
For healthy cats, side effects are rare. If your cat has a weak system, probiotics could overwhelm them and make them feel sick or, in rare cases, develop an infection. There are no official dosing guidelines for cats, but it’s recommended that you give your cat a supplement guaranteed at between 1 billion and 5 billion CFU’s each day.
Top 10 Best Probiotics for Cats
All of the following probiotics meet our standards for safety, viability, and effectiveness.
Cultivating Healthy Gut Flora
Once you’ve chosen the best probiotic for your cat, remember that creating a healthy microbiome takes more than supplementation alone. Instead, take a holistic approach by feeding your cat a diet that promotes good bacteria growth and discourages the growth of bad bacteria.
Here are some other tips for cultivating a healthy gut flora in your cat:
- Avoid excessive antibiotic therapy. If antibiotics are prescribed, ensure that they are appropriate for the given condition and target the culprit bacteria. Your veterinarian would need to do some extra testing to identify the culprit bacteria and determine which antibiotic would be most effective.
- Feed a diverse diet of varied whole foods. Multiple sources of animal protein can help to encourage a varied gut flora.
- Play with your cat and encourage them to exercise. Some studies have shown that physical activity may alter gut bacteria and improve gut health in humans.
- Avoid cat food that contains added sugars. Sugar isn’t only unnecessary in your cat’s food— a 2012 study suggested that it can promote unhealthy gut bacteria growth.
Take your cat for regular veterinary checkups. This will help your vet keep a close watch on your cat’s overall health and monitor your cat’s specific health issues.