Fiber is an important part of human diets, but it's not something that most cat owners think much about. Pets need fiber too, and often for the same reasons as humans. But you may not know how or when to get extra fiber into your cat's diet. Here's a short guide to making it easy.
Why Add Fiber?
Cats eat a lot of meat-based food, so they don't always get enough fiber, which usually comes from plant-based sources. The most common way owners notice the problem is when the cat develops constipation. You may see that your cat simply isn't leaving as much excrement in her usual place, or you might observe her straining unnecessarily when trying to go. Look for poop that's small or pellet-like, hard when fresh, or even too runny. Insufficient fiber can also cause diarrhea as food transits the cat's system too fast.
Before you begin experimenting with extra fiber, you should root out any more serious causes for her intestinal discomfort. If the constipation or diarrhea causes signs of dehydration, excess discomfort, lethargy, or pain, take your cat to a cat hospital for testing to solve any underlying problems. Talk to your veterinarian about treating the symptoms with extra fiber.
How to Add Fiber
There are many ways you can add fiber to your kitty's diet through both natural and artificial means.
To use a simple artificial supplement, you can look for a cat food with extra fiber added into the mix already. If you don't want to change cat food, though, and possibly create new intestinal issues for your pet, look for psyllium fiber supplements in a powder form. Opt for one that's tasteless and odorless, and sprinkle it into the cat's food.
There are many natural methods, as well. A small amount of bran in the cat's food may cause sufficient change without affecting the taste. Canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), strained prunes, cooked carrot mash, or mashed peas are all good sources of fiber that often appeal to cats. Experiment with small amounts of these in turn to find one your cat prefers, then increase the amount slowly to about a teaspoon per day.
Adjusting your cat's diet to include more healthy fiber is an easy solution to temporary intestinal problems. But it should be done under the supervision of your veterinarian or animal hospital. The result will surely be a happier feline friend and a happier owner.