Digestive health is crucial for cats, providing a barrier against pathogens and helping nutrient absorption. The gut microbiome, consisting of trillions of microorganisms, plays a vital role in maintaining overall health. Various factors, including age, diet, environment, and antibiotics, can influence the microbiome. To support intestinal health, pet diets are often supplemented with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.
Prebiotics: MOS and FOS
Prebiotics, non-digestible oligosaccharides, stimulate the growth of beneficial colonic bacteria, impacting digestive health. Examples include Mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) and Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). MOS, extracted from yeast cell walls, forms a mannoprotein layer in the large intestine, supporting the health of the intestinal tract. FOS, derived from chicory root, occurs naturally in various plants and helps maintain healthy gut bacteria. Both MOS and FOS can be found in Tippaws Delicious Dry Food.
Probiotics and postbiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms promoting the growth of "good" bacteria in the body. Some cat foods have added probiotics, however their efficacy is questionable as it’s unlikely many of the live bacteria stay alive throughout manufacturing, storage, food preparation by owners and finally, even from the point of ingestion to reaching the microbiome.
Enterococcus faecium and Lactobacillus acidophilus are common probiotic species.
Postbiotics, bioactive compounds produced during the fermentation of prebiotics by probiotics, offer health benefits without the challenges of live microorganism administration. These are less common in cat food (so far!).
Benefits of MOS & FOS in cats
A study in 2010 demonstrated that FOS, as a fermentable fibre source, promotes good intestinal health in cats. FOS showed greater benefits than pectin (another soluble fibre found in apples), producing a more beneficial microbial population. The study concluded that if you supplemented a cat’s diet with 4% dietary fermentable fibres like FOS, the cat’s gut health improved significantly.
Similarly, a study in 2004 investigated MOS and chicory's effects on senior dogs, finding senior dogs ate more when their diets were supplemented with MOS. The chicory increased fat digestibility, while MOS decreased the presence of faecal E. coli and increased the presence of faecal bifidobacteria (good bacteria). We can assume that these benefits extend to cats.
In conclusion, maintaining digestive health in pets is essential for overall well-being. Prebiotics like MOS and FOS play a crucial role in stimulating beneficial bacteria growth in the microbiome. Studies on FOS in cats and MOS in pets highlight their positive impact on gut health.
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