What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms (often bacterial) similar to those found naturally in the human body. Prebiotics are nondigestible, nonliving substances that interact with naturally present microorganisms.
To fully understand the importance of both, you first need to understand the immune system of a cat. It is a group of organs and cells that defend the body against infections and diseases. While outdoor cats get to benefit from the plants that often provide natural healing, indoor ones do not, and they are exposed to household toxins, artificial colorings, preservatives and limited diets that sometimes lack essential nutrients.
The body requires beneficial bacteria to support many functions, including digestion and immune; in fact, at least 70 percent of the immune system is located in the gut. Dietary supplements or foods that contain these beneficial enzyme-producing bacteria can be described as “probiotic.”
Prebiotics, however, actually help the probiotics by providing nutrients that act as “fuel” for the probiotic. Prebiotics, which come from insoluble fiber and fructooligosaccharides (the sugars often found in fruits and honey, should often be taken either before or with the probiotic.
When you put them together, it’s a powerful support for the immune system and some research suggests that it also helps alleviate inflammation, a cause of disease, which makes sense since most inflammation starts in the digestive tract.
Here’s the bottom-line: You want to feed your cat a healthy diet that includes both prebiotics and probiotics.
Both do also occur naturally in foods and, as long as they are approved by your veterinarian, you might add some of your cat’s diet, For instance, probiotics are found in yogurt—and yogurt is one of the most acceptable milk substitutes for the lactose-intolerant cat. Prebiotics appear in whole grains; bananas; honey; and vegetables.
Both also come in supplement form. There are some on the market, especially formulated especially for cats. Your veterinarian can make a suggestion.