Another very important barometer of good health, a healthy digestive system, is not easily seen, but is indeed critical to helping cats live a long and healthy life. In fact, digestion problems are among the most common reasons for visits to the veterinarian. The high level of concern about digestive health has led nutritionists and veterinarians to look more closely into ways to better understand the cat’s complex digestive system.
The digestive tract is, essentially, a long, hollow tube that runs through the body, from the mouth to the anus. The tube has several main components, including mouth, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. This system is in constant motion, making sure cats get the nutrients from their diet that they need to stay healthy and look their best. The digestive tract is also the system that supplies essential nutrients to the rest of the body, which is why it is critical to keep this system in top condition.
Just as in humans, the digestive tract of cats naturally contains bacteria. As clean as cats are, and as clean as we all think we are, many different types of bacteria share our world – vitally important protective bacteria even live on our skin! Many of these bacteria in and around our body work to keep things healthy in their own microscopic way. As we learn more about the flourishing forms of life that kep everything running smoothly in our own intestinal tracts, we have been able to apply this knowledge to our cats’ health, as well.
Investigations into the health of the digestive tract have led to the incorporation of ingredients in pet foods known as prebiotics. A prebiotic is a food ingredient that can beneficially affect the animal by encouraging or nourishing the activity of certain types of beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract. This nourishment promotes the type of bacteria that may improve a cat’s health by enabling the digestive tract to works at its best, helping to deliver essential nutrients to the body.
Whole natural chicory root is a prebiotic that has been proven to promote healthy digestion. When added to pet food, it serves as food for the beneficial bacteria that are present in a cat’s intestinal tract, helping the bacteria flourish. Research suggests that the benefits of feeding a cat food containing chicory root may include increased nutrient absorption, better digestion and support of the immune system. Chicory root is a natural fiber source from a plant that has been used in human foods as a salad ingredient. It is known to also aid digestion in humans, and is a safe and palatable ingredient for cats. This particular prebiotic fiber source is harvested, washed, sliced, then added to the food. There are no ingredients added to the chicory and extensive processing is not necessary – unlike with synthetic prebiotics.
It pays health dividends to look closely at a cat food label. Look for ingredients, such as whole chicory root, that can help bring your companion a lifetime of good health.