Gut bacteria have a huge influence over our health and wellbeing, and more and more people are becoming aware of the benefits that learning more about gut microbiome balance can offer.
In fact, today’s scientific advancements are making it possible to improve health by adjusting diet and supplement intake based on the body’s microbe and metabolite numbers.
And that’s great news for our furry friends as well.
Our review process is unbiased and based on extensive research. If you buy through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.
- A detailed report on gut bacteria types and proportions
- A comparison with other healthy animals
- Price: $90 + Free shipping for U.S. customers
We’ve all had to go through our kitties suffering health issues related to the gastrointestinal tract, and although some of them go away on their own, others tend to linger, which is when it’s a good idea to figure out exactly what’s going on.
Why Should You Test Your Cat’s Gut Microbiome?
Your cat’s gut digestive system is an incredibly complex environment, where even the smallest imbalances can have a significant effect on everything else.
Every animal has a unique set of microbes in the digestive tract, consisting of thousands of different types. Together, they make up the gut microbiome and allow it to function correctly.
Now, not all of these bacteria are equal!
- Some of them are essential.
- Others can be harmful.
- While others still don’t serve a clear purpose, but are prominent in most healthy microbiome ecosystems.
If this ecosystem gets disrupted, the consequences are similar in most animals, including cats. If your kitty is experiencing digestive issues that you don’t know the cause of, checking the bacterial balance of its gut can help to figure out the reason why and treat it.
But how exactly can a cat microbiome test help?
Improving Your Cat’s Overall Health
Gut bacteria are responsible for numerous body functions, including reducing inflammation, helping the immune system, and even fighting harmful bacteria, so it’s important to figure out if your cat lacks any of the key bacteria that it needs to stay healthy.
In fact, as we learn more about the microbiome and its effects, it may become possible to use the bacteria to treat some of the more prominent diseases. The University of Chicago studied the effects of introducing a bacterial strain into the digestive tracts of mice with melanoma, which showed promising results as the bacteria attacked the tumor cells.
But while this type of treatment is still a while away, there are plenty of other ways that a gut microbiome test can help to identify and treat common disorders caused by microbiome imbalances such as chronic diarrhea, obesity, kidney disease, cardiorespiratory disease, cancer, and many others.
Reducing Stress Levels
Although our pets aren’t exposed to the same stressors as us, that doesn’t mean they always live worry-free – animals are very sensitive to changes in their environment, diet, or even people that they live with.
All of that stress doesn’t go by without leaving its mark – it can disrupt the microbiome and the balance of gut bacteria, which can, in turn, create an imbalance of hormones as well, causing more stress in the process.
The quickest and least invasive way to end this cycle is to replenish your cat’s gut with good bacteria and reduce the stress-inducing effects that the imbalance was causing.
Keeping a Healthy Weight
It’s no surprise that gut bacteria have a significant effect on a cat’s weight.
Recent studies on both animals and humans have shown that the gut microbiome plays a vital role in the amount of energy that’s extracted from a diet, also affecting the risk of obesity and developing metabolic diseases.
Microbiome Research is Growing Rapidly
The study of the gut microbiome and its effects on human and animal health is still an ongoing process, but scientists have already been able to discover hundreds of common gut bacteria types and have started to link them to specific symptoms and conditions.
So, while the exact balance of optimal gut health hasn’t been identified yet, there are clear patterns that will only become more accurate as scientists are able to study a larger sample size of cat gut bacteria.
Today, no one can tell conclusively what an ideal microbiome for cats looks like, but that is a work in progress, and by choosing to test your cat, you’re not only gaining insights about its gut health but contributing to making the results more accurate in the future.
Signs of Digestive Health Problems
Numerous factors can disrupt your cat’s gut bacteria balance, including stress, changes in diet or environment, or even medical treatment such as taking antibiotics.
And if the balance of the microbiome is not optimal, symptoms usually follow – some of them are common and may seem inconsequential, but they can lead to more serious issues if left unaddressed.
- Diarrhea. Your kitty having diarrhea can be very unpleasant for both you and your pet. It can be caused by various reasons, including bacterial infections, parasites, or even a bad meal, but gut bacteria often play a role as well.
- Behavior Changes. While gut health is usually associated with stomach and digestive issues, it’s essential for optimal function of the central nervous system as well. A lack of certain bacteria can contribute to increased stress levels, anxiety, or even depression in both animals and humans.
- Skin Issues. Since poor gut health causes inflammation, your cat’s skin can become more irritable and sensitive to environmental factors.
It must be said that these issues don’t necessarily mean that gut microbiome is the cause, so you should evaluate each situation individually and seek professional guidance if you have doubts.
Learn More: Find the Best Cat Food for Sensitive Stomachs
How to Check Your Cat’s Gut Health
Although every animal’s gut microbiome is unique, certain bacteria must be present for the gut to maintain normal function. At the same time, the levels of harmful types of bacteria must be low as they can disrupt the digestive system and cause various health ailments.
But how can you find out if your cat is suffering from a gut microbiome imbalance?
Well, the first step is to always keep an eye on your kitty’s behavior and health – the most common signs you should look for are vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, gassiness, or any symptoms related to the digestive tract.
However, in some instances, there will be no physical symptoms even though the gut microbiome may not be functioning correctly.
Gut Health Microbiome Test for Cats
The study of the microbiome and its effects on humans and animals is progressing at a rapid pace, and today some companies are offering at-home gut microbiome tests for cats.
By collecting a stool sample with a test kit, you can get it analyzed in a laboratory and gain valuable insights about your cat’s gut microbiome. The test identifies specific groups of bacteria and their proportions, which is then compared to what the current optimal balances look like in healthy pets.
You can use this information to help improve your cat’s health by altering its nutritional intake – studies have shown that a change in diet correlates with improved fecal scores.
If the imbalances of gut bacteria are more severe, supplements may be required to help replenish the gut microbiome and optimize its bacteria levels.
Best Cat Microbiome Test Kit Review
We have found 2 great cat microbiome test kits, one from Nom Nom Plus (who we rate as the best cat food company) and one from AnimalBiome Lab.
Still, other options may become available, and we will update this article when that happens.
#1. Nom Nom Plus :INSIGHTS Pet Microbiome Test Kit by Nom Nom Plus
- Gives a detailed assessment of your cat’s microbiome
- Specifies microbiome composition
- Show bacterial diversity
- Provides comparative data against other tested pets
- Simple process to follow – Collect stool and send in
Nom Nom Plus is our absolute favorite cat food. It’s natural, human-grade food that just so happens to be excellent for improving or maintaining your cat’s health.
That’s why when they told us they had released a new microbiome testing kit, we were pretty excited to see what it was all about.
Happily, they didn’t just outsource this product and add it to their store in order to capitalize on their existing food sales.
(For example, they could tell you that you can test twice to compare your cat before and after eating Nom Nom Plus.)
Instead, they hired a Director of Microbiology, Dr. Ryan Honaker.
I think this is a really impressive move that confirms that they’re serious about developing the best tool out there to test your cat’s gut bacteria health.
The test is simple and non-invasive. You simply provide a fresh stool sample (which is easily taken with the tools included in the kit), and send it back to Nom Nom Plus.
Their scientists then run tests to determine what kind of bacteria is in your cat’s gut.
Note that since some bacteria in the stomach can’t live outside of the host, it will only show you the bacteria in the stool…but unless you want to have an invasive test done on your kitty, I think this is a limitation we can live with.
The test results show you:
Diversity is important, because a wide variety of diversity has been shown to be beneficial. This will also show you if one type of bacteria is taking up most of the space, which may need to be remedied with probiotics, or a better cat food.
The Composition section breaks down what each type of bacteria does, and how much is present in your cat. This is useful to ensure she’s not way above or below normal baselines.
Comparisons are a useful tool to see how your cat stacks up against other cats, to ensure again that there are no outlier issues to be aware of.
Overall, the report is very easy to read and understand, and will help you make the best choices for your cat.
Nom Nom Plus pet food includes probiotic strains, and the natural, meat-based recipes will do wonders to improve her overall health (including that of her gut), so we highly recommend checking out our review to see if Nom Nom Plus cat food is right for you.
The INSIGHTS test kit is also the cheapest option we’ve found on the market, at only $90.
#2. Kitty Kit Microbiome Test by AnimalBiome
- Reports on bacterial composition and diversity
- Detects bacterial imbalances
- Provides action plan when imbalances are found
- NOTE: If purchasing, use discount code “CATOLOGICAL” at checkout to receive a 10% discount
AnimalBiome is one of the leading companies in microbiome research and products, working to improve pet care practices through a better understanding of feline gut health and its effects.
Their Kitty Kit at-home test kit is an integral part of the research – it allows pet owners to get their cat’s gut health analyzed by a professional laboratory, while at the same time contributing another sample to the research which helps AnimalBiome gather more data and make future results more accurate.
So what does the process look like?
- First, you use the kit to collect the stool sample from your kitty and send it to the AnimalBiome laboratory.
- You’ll also fill out a form to answer a few questions about your cat’s health and diet.
- After you send out the sample, AnimalBiome will examine it and analyze the bacteria that are present in your cat’s gut.
- You can expect to receive an extensive report about your cat’s gut microbiome in around 2-4 weeks.
The report will include information about your cat’s gut bacteria diversity and composition, which will be compared with other pets to see if there are any inconsistencies.
AnimalBiome also offers a more comprehensive bundle option called The Microbiome Restoration System. It includes two Kitty Kit Microbiome tests, as well as a course of Gut Restoration Supplements that can help to replenish gut bacteria levels and correct imbalances.
The supplements consist of 50 oral capsules for microbiome enrichment, which are to be taken by your cat two times daily for 25 days. These supplements are sourced from the gut microbiome of healthy cats, and the company claims that they help to restore gut health and relieve various issues with the digestive tract or skin.
Once your kitty finishes the supplement course, the microbiome is tested again to see what effect it had on the gut bacteria levels.
The Microbiome Restoration System costs $245, which is significantly higher than the basic test priced at $95. However, it may be worth the extra cost if your cat has chronic digestive and skin issues which may be caused by gut microbiome imbalances.
AnimalBiome’s Kitty Kit Microbiome Test is one of the only products on the market, but luckily it provides a comprehensive service that’s more than enough for anyone who wants to learn more about their cat’s gut health.
The test can help you find out if your cat’s health issues could be related to a gut bacteria imbalance, and even treat the problem using specially-designed supplements.
AnimalBiome has offered Catological readers an exclusive 10% discount for any purchase on their website. Simply enter code:
At checkout, and you’ll lock in your savings.
How to Improve Your Cat’s Digestive Health
Gut bacteria have a strong influence on your cat’s health, both mentally and physically. If there is an imbalance of gut microbes, it can lead to unpleasant symptoms which can later develop into more serious issues if the problem is left untreated.
The biggest influence on your cat’s microbiome is its diet, so we are going to look at the ways how you can alter and enhance the diet to ensure that the bacteria levels are restored and remain optimal for your kitty’s well-being.
Since many types of bacteria feed on the food that your cat ingests, its diet will help certain bacteria flourish while depleting the numbers of others, which can result in an imbalance over time.
As you probably know, cats in the wild get most of their calories from fresh raw food that’s rich in proteins and fats. But house cats typically live off some form of canned or kibbled food that often contains 40% or more of carbohydrates from various grains and other substitutes.
Over time, this can contribute to various health ailments – carb-heavy diets are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria that sustain themselves on carbohydrates, so the gut microbiome gets overrun by microorganisms that aren’t typical to the cat’s digestive tract.
The only way to prevent that is to feed your cat a diet that’s high in protein, as well as fat, and low in carbohydrates. In an ideal scenario, that would be a raw diet, but maintaining it can be challenging.
Raw diets can be time-consuming to maintain, more expensive, and also carry risks of malnutrition since you need to make sure that they get non-meat nutrients as well.
However, some companies such as Instinct Raw Boost offer raw, freeze-dried, and packaged cat food that allows your cat to enjoy all the benefits of a raw diet without you having to go through the hassle of handling everything yourself.
Another great option is the fresh cat food delivery service by Nom Nom Plus – the company offers custom-made food that is delivered for your kitty to your home. It’s balanced to provide all the necessary nutrients that your cat needs and can help to restore the gut microbiome to optimal levels.
Finally, there are both canned and kibbled food brands that have healthy options for cats – the most important thing to look for are high amounts of high-quality protein and low levels of carbohydrates.
If you want to learn more about the best cat food options on the market, check out our extensive cat food review that covers everything you need to know.
Probiotics are an integral part of a healthy gut – they are the “good” bacteria that help protect cats from dangerous microbes and yeasts, which would otherwise cause unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea or might even result in more severe conditions. If these “good” bacteria are lacking in your cat’s gut, it will cause issues that won’t go away on their own.
That’s where probiotic supplements can be so helpful.
They allow to restore gut bacteria to optimal levels and help prevent many unpleasant symptoms, allowing your cat’s digestive system to function normally. Probiotics serve an important role in the immune system as well, protecting your kitty against various diseases.
But when should you give your cat probiotic supplements?
There isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question – some veterinarians recommend giving your cat probiotics on a daily basis to ensure that their gut remains healthy, while others only prescribe it to treat digestive tractive issues such as diarrhea, or to replenish good bacteria numbers after a course of antibiotics.
If you want to get the most from the probiotic supplements for your kitty, look for a brand that has the highest CFU (colony forming units) available. You should also look into the diversity of the bacteria since different types of bacteria occupy different parts of the intestinal tract.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
While many gut health issues can be solved with a change in diet and use of supplements, you should always err on the side of caution in matters involving your kitty’s health.
If you have any doubts or want to make sure that the underlying cause of the symptoms isn’t more severe, seek professional help and consult your veterinarian.