As anyone with one eye on the world of health and wellness will know, gut health is having a moment. And rightly so, when we consider the role our gut plays in keeping us happy and healthy. The big news for cat owners is that your cat’s gut is just as important for their overall wellbeing, too.

‘We’re increasingly recognising the role of the gut’s microbiome, a collection of organisms (mostly bacteria) that reside in the gut of people and pets like cats,’ explains Purina vet Libby Sheridan. ‘It plays a major part in a cat’s metabolism, protecting against potential pathogenic organisms (aka harmful germs) and boosting and strengthening the immune system — 80% of which is in the gut.’

So next time you’re stocking your fridge with some kefir or kimchi for yourself, consider these simple ways to care for your furry friend’s health, too.

1. Keep an eye on their diet

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        Cats are carnivores, which means they can only get particular essential nutrients through meat-based ingredients. To ensure your pet gets what they need, and to support metabolic pathways that help them stay healthy, Libby recommends feeding them a ‘complete’ diet, specially formulated for cats. ‘Complete diets provide all the nutrients that a pet needs, developed following guidelines from FEDIAF, to ensure foods are balanced and able to support cats through various life stages,’ Libby says.

        So the good news, is that you don’t need to start monitoring your cat’s protein levels, because Purina ONE’s advanced nutrition range of wet and dry food does the hard work for you. A complete and balanced cat food, it includes everything your cat needs to maintain their gut health, plus additional ingredients that help to support vital functions.

        2. It’s all about the nutrients

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        While all ‘complete’ pet food diets will give your cat the total nutrients they need day to day, you can boost their gut health even further with some extra gut-supportive nutrients. Libby recommends functional ingredients like probiotics and prebiotics, both found in the Purina ONE range.

        ‘The BIFENSIS formula contains a unique nutritional blend with beneficial functional bacteria scientifically proven to strengthen the cat’s natural defences starting within the gut,’ Libby says. ‘The probiotic lactobacillus (thought of as a ‘good’ bacteria) helps to maintain a healthy balanced microbiome. And the addition of the prebiotic, chicory, helps to support this good bacteria in the gut, so they can out-compete the bad potentially disease-causing bacteria.’

        3. Give them plenty of protein

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        No, we’re not suggesting your cat needs to work on their gains. As a carnivore, a cat’s physiology has evolved to require high amounts of protein — it’s how they get a major part of their daily energy and nitrogen needs.

        ‘It’s not just only the overall amount of protein that’s important, the quality is important too,’ says Libby. ‘A good quality protein, like chicken or salmon, will be more digestible,’ she recommends, adding that, ‘good digestibility will help to ensure that the amino acids within the protein are accessible.’ These amino acids include glutamine, which feeds the cell lining in the gut; gut lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell important in defence; and taurine, important for eye and heart health.

        4. Watch their weight

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          ‘Cats have an increased risk of particular diseases that are obesity related,’ Libby explains. ‘They have a 4-fold risk of developing diabetes mellitus through being obese, as well as a higher risk of lower urinary tract disease, such as feline cystitis.’ But don’t fret! There are some simple ways to keep your cat at a healthy weight, such as interactive feeders or cat climbing trees, to help them stay active.

          If your cat prefers grazing over regular meal times, measure out the correct portion of food at the beginning of the day to avoid overfeeding (dry food works best here, as it can be left out for the day without spoiling), allowing your feline friend to come and go as they please. If your cat is prone to weight gain, Purina ONE BIFENSIS Light is a great healthy option that will satisfy their appetite, but contains 30% less fat.

          Discover more about supporting your cat’s health from the inside out with Purina ONE