Cats with IBD can benefit from some supplements, these are the supplements I recommend.
Always check the full ingredients of any supplement you plan to give to your cat, since flavorings, xylitol and other ingredients can be harmful or even fatal for our sensitive felines.
Slippery Elm Bark coats the digestive tract helping reduce over-active stomach acids, inflammation, and helps relieve hairballs. Most effective when given as a paste about 1 hour before a meal – mix 1 teaspoon of powder with enough water to make a syrup, syringe into the mouth. It can be added to food but many cats won’t eat it and it seems less effective when eaten with the meal. Also excellent to give at bedtime if your cat is adapting to meals from free-feeding and tends to vomit bile in the early morning due to too much stomach acid. Slippery elm bark is safe to give indefinitely.
Vitamin B12 – many IBD cats are B12 deficient due to chronic inflammation (read more). Deficiency can result in loss of appetite and neurological problems. B12 injections are recommended, but I also had success with giving a sublingual B12 tablet daily orally. Choose a B12 tablet with NO colors or flavorings, the one I used had only B12, lactose and acacia gum. Be careful – some B12 supplements contain xylitol which is toxic to cats. I gave a 1000mcg tablet/day for 2 months, then 2 tablets a week for 6 more months. Since there is no reported toxicity for B12 – a water soluble vitamin – you can give megadoses to ensure its absorption. You may also dissolve the B12 tablets in the supplement mixture when making the raw food to boost the B12 content.
Probiotics can help improve digestion and re-condition the digestive tract, and recent research has shown that they can also help reduce the load on the kidneys by assisting in detoxification. As with all diet changes it is a good idea to introduce one thing at a time and to introduce slowly. You may use a probiotic designed for human use, simply feed about 1/10 to 1/5 the amount recommended for humans, pull capsules apart to mix powder in with food. Brands I have personally used for my cats and can recommend:
- Jarrow Pet-Dophilus (powder, 4 strains, 4 billion cells per dose. Contains whey protein)
- ReNew Life Ultimate Flora 50 (powder-filled capsules, 10 strains, 50 billion cells per dose)
Digestive enzymes can be helpful in aiding digestion, since many IBD cats have decreased secretion of digestive enzymes. While your cat’s digestive system is healing and adapting to the new diet, supplementing with digestive enzymes can be very helpful. I recommend Dr. Goodpet brand, which also contains acidophilus (probiotic).
L-glutamine helps reduce intestinal inflammation. Pull apart a capsule and add the tasteless powder to your food recipe or mix directly on top of food each day. Give 100 mg/day (for example a 500mg capsule would last your cat 5 days) for an average sized cat. It is best to build up to the full dose slowly and not to give the supplement for more than 2-3 months.