Good cat foods often include fiber to help your cat’s digestive function. Do cats need fiber? Yes, fiber plays an important role in a cat’s diet, even though not an essential dietary need, and can have several overall health benefits. Fiber can definitely help with such things as digestive upset, constipation, diarrhea, diabetes, and even obesity.
Have You Heard Of The Gut Microbiome?
The microbiome refers to all the living organisms that live inside your cat. These include many millions of microbes such as bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses that reside in the digestive system. These organisms provide fundamental digestive success to kitty.
Fiber’s job aids in the maintenance of a healthy digestive system for your cat. Fiber adds bulk to the diet, keeping bowel movements regular and preventing constipation.
What Is The Best Source Of Fiber For A Domestic Cat?
A true carnivore, such as a cat, has a diet that does not include much plant fiber. However, other sources of fiber besides plants can be found. The undigested fur, bone, cartilage, tendon and ligaments of a cat’s prey can also constitute intestinal fiber. So can undigested hair from grooming.
However, a domestic cat does not necessarily consume many prey animals. Therefore, the best source of fiber for a domestic cat can be found typically in high-quality commercial cat foods. These, specifically formulated for their dietary needs, often contain ingredients providing the necessary fiber content to support a cat’s digestive health.
Look for cat food that lists its source of fiber, such as beet pulp, gums and pectin, and psyllium husk. Do remember, that though both you and your cat need fiber in the diet, the cat does not require the same amount of fiber as a human.
For one thing, the cat has a much shorter digestive tract than a human, and because the cat is a carnivore, nutritional needs find better satisfaction with mostly animal-based ingredients.
How Does Fiber Ferment?
Fiber does not break down and become digested like proteins and fats. However, some kinds of fiber can be fermented (broken down by bacteria) within kitty’s digestive system. This breakdown will produce short-chain fatty acids, providing energy to kitty’s intestines in the process.
What Benefits Does Fiber Provide?
Though a cat does not require large amounts of fiber in the diet, their fiber intake does provide several benefits.
Digestive Health: Fibers that are moderately fermentable can help support gut health and digstion. They take on such roles as supporting gut microbiota, improving digestibility of some nutrients, better stool bulk and immunity boosting.
Cats require a smaller amount of fiber as compared to dogs, as their digestive systems are much shorter than dogs. Cats with a proper amount of fiber in their diets should have small, firm, and segmented, not pelleted, patties, or they should be rock-hard.
Most cat food manufacturers for either wet or dry food add fiber to provide its benefits.
Reducing Diarrhea and Constipation: Soluble fibers such as gum and pectin absorb water, helping the stool to solidify and adding bulk. The fibers will slow digestion and your cat will feel fuller. This effect reduces the severity of diarrhea.
Because insoluble fiber will add bulk because it holds water like a sponge without dissolving, it will keep the stool moist to keep things flowing smoothly. A bulky stool becomes easier to pass.
If a cat tends toward constipation, try a water fountain to encourage kitty to drink more water. Also, switch from dry food to wet or canned cat food.
Diabetes: Studies of cat diabetes seem to point out that fiber has a good influence on diabetes. Since the fiber slows down digestion, it also slows down the rate at which glucose becomes absorbed. This in turn will prevent spikes in blood sugar of diabetic cats.
Weight Control Help: Cats, and especially indoor ones, often lead a sedentary lifestyle. They sleep a lot and may not show much inclination to activity. Because of this lifestyle, they become candidates for obesity and weight gain.
Diets high in poorly fermentable fiber, which tend to bulk, can make kitty feel full without comsuming many calories. While diluting the calorie concentration of foods, they increase stool volume.
Also, these foods slow down digestion, keeping your cat from getting hungry sooner. A high-fiber, low-fat diet may help your cat manage weight, as excessive hunger will become reduced, stopping the urge to overeat.
Controlling Hairballs: Cats spend a lot of time grooming, which leads to the ingestion of fur, thus forming hairballs. These can cause digestive upsets and kitty will cough up a lovely little package for you to clean up. A high-fiber diet might help move those hairballs smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract.
A word from some experts: They believe that frequent vomiting might be due to dry kibble, rather than from ingesting fur. The dry food makes it hard for the hairs to reach kitty’s stomach. They base this argument on the fact that cats vomit fur more often on a dry kibble diet, rather than a quality canned regimen.
Hypothesis on Chronic Renal Failure Help: The hypothesis states that fermentable fiber helps felines with chronic kidney failure. The reason: the fiber raises the nitrogenous waste removal via feces, leaving less work for the kidneys. They argue that such fiber reduces nitrogen absorbed without reducing protein content.
Unclogging the Anal Sac: A cat uses the anal glands or sacs to mark their territory by applying their scent to an object. These sacs may become blocked and quite smelly. If they are blocked, they can cause kitty pain, or lead to scooting or anal licking.
Fiber bulks feces. Therefore, they may help with unclogging. During defecation, the feces will press against the sacs, which may help open them.
Would You Like To Try A Raw Food Diet?
Perhaps you would like to try creating your own cat food. A raw food diet can prove very beneficial to your cat, and can allow you to include all the necessities for cat nutrition. Watch this video to learn more:
Do Not Add Excessive Amounts Of Fiber To The Diet
A result could become low efficiency of enzymes. This reduced effectiveness may cause problems with protein digestion and can cause a deficiency of taurine. Heart failure or blindness plus other digestive problems could result.
If given very high soluble fiber, kitty can become dehydrated. Digestibility of proteins and other nutrients can be affected.
The coat may become dry and flaky and stools might become huge, because now kitty has problems with digestion and assimilation of some essential nutrients.
Because the diet has now become lower in fats and protein, kitty may not like it as much and won’t eat as much as needed.
To Sum It Up
Remember that, though your kitty needs some fiber, he’s an obligate carnivore, so make sure he gets a diet primarily made up of animal protein. It’s essential to strike a balance, providing fiber in appropriate quantities as part of a well-rounded feline diet.
If you don’t know for sure if your cat receives the optimal amount of fiber in his diet, consult your vet. Thus, you can ensure that kitty has all the fiber he needs in his diet.
References I used for this post: petmd.com/blogs/thedailyvet/ktudor/2012/june/do_cats_need_fiber_in_their_diet-25083 iams.com/cat/cat-articles/why-fiber-important-your-cats-nutrition petcareadvisors.com/cats/do-cats-need-fiber/ hillspet.com/cat-care/nutrition-feeding/importance-of-cat-food-with-fiber