Cat Gut Health: How to Support a Healthy Gut and Digestion in Cats

Mar 2, 2022

You love your cat and want them to be as healthy and happy as possible. You likely treat your cat like the beloved family member that they are. Because you’re such a good pet parent, you want to know how to help your kitty be as healthy as possible. And since digestion is a key bodily function, you want to know how to help your cat’s digestive system be even healthier. Or perhaps your kitty is having some tummy trouble or trouble in other areas. In this article, we’ll explore how a cat’s digestion works, how to help your cat’s digestion, and how pet CBD can help with your cat’s digestion. 

What You Need to Know About Cats’ Digestion

A cat’s digestion, while similar in function to dogs’ and humans’, is much different from those two species because cats are strictly carnivorous. The digestive system is made up of any organ that participates in digestion, nutrient absorption, motility (movement of food through the digestive tract), and elimination (bowel movements). The organs participating in digestion are the: mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, rectum, and anus. Digestion’s purpose is to break down food so we can absorb its nutrients. 

Wild cats eat a diet of mostly protein and fat, with very few carbohydrates. Cat’s bodies don’t make essential nutrients like amino acids taurine, arginine, methionine, and cysteine or vitamins like vitamin B, niacin, and vitamin D. If cats don’t get these nutrients from their food, then their body’s will start to break down muscle tissue.

Unlike humans, cats don’t chew their food, their mouths aren’t made for grinding, but for biting. Cats tend to swallow their food in chunks, which is easier for their jaws that can only move up and down. Cats use their tongues to move food around for tearing and shredding, which when mixed with saliva, starts the digestion process. After swallowing, food moves down the 12-15 inch tube that’s called the esophagus to the stomach. The stomach is where the real digestion gets started. Digestive acid from a cat’s stomach can dissolve bones. This acid plus the motion of the stomach turns food into a liquid than then moves into the small intestine. In the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum, the gall bladder secretes bile and the pancreas secretes different enzymes. Both of these substances continue the work of breaking down the food liquid that started in the stomach. The rest of nutrient absorption happens as food travels through the rest of the small intestine. What is leftover moves through the large intestine where water and electrolytes are absorbed, before being stored in the rectum and expelled through the anus. Your cat’s digestion is an amazing process. 

Diet and Water Intake

This may sound obvious, but one important way to support cat gut health is to avoid feeding them any foods that aren’t good for them. Toxic foods include chocolate, avocado, and garlic. Some foods might not be toxic per se, but they don’t agree with your cat’s digestion and can cause a build of up smelly gas. An example of a food that causes gas in cats is beans. Table scraps might be ok, depending on what they are, but excessive feeding outside of mealtime can lead to unhealthy weight gain. 

Your cat needs a high-protein diet that is mainly real meat. Meat byproducts in quality food are still providing good nutrition for cats since they eat the carcass of their prey in the wild.  Many commercial cat foods will have grain as the main ingredient and/or use poor-quality proteins that are poorly digested or indigestible. Look for cat food with meat as the first few ingredients. It may cost more, but you’ll save in the long run in terms of your cat’s health. Your veterinarian likely carries excellent cat food or can recommend some better brands for you and your kitty. Wet food is also a good choice for cats since they’ll take in more liquid with high-quality wet food. Make sure your cat always has access to clean, fresh water. Water is essential for proper digestion as well as overall health. 

It might surprise you, but a common remedy for cats with constipation or diarrhea is pureed pumpkin. This is plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin is high in fiber, which can move things along if your cat is constipated, or absorb water from loose stools. Pumpkin will also help move any hair in your cat’s digestive tract. Pumpkin contains many vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious food for your cat.

Probiotics are also helpful for not only your cat’s digestion but their immunity as well. Probiotics are good for healthy cats as well as cats who are having tummy troubles. Cat probiotics are full of the friendly bacteria that live in your cat’s gut, helping with digestion and immunity. Vets use probiotics to treat digestive symptoms like upset stomachs and decreased appetite.


There is a link between grooming and gut health for cats. The more you brush your cat, the less hair they are likely to ingest. Hair ingestion can lead to constipation, and hairballs especially if a cat is overgrooming itself due to skin irritations like allergies. Regular grooming on your part is especially important for long-haired cats and elderly cats who have a reduced range of motion. 

To make brushing fun, try a range of different brushing tools, like different styles of brushes or mitts. There are endless varieties on the market, so you’re sure to find one that works for your cat. Make sure you tailor your grooming tool choice to the type of coat your cat has. 


Daily exercise or playtime with your cat does more than strengthen your bond and gives your cat much-needed mental stimulation. Exercise is also very important for healthy digestion. Exercise stimulates peristalsis or the movement of the intestinal muscles that moves food through the digestive tract. Lack of exercise can lead to constipation, as well as a variety of other health issues like stress and anxiety, and obesity. 20-40 minutes of playtime a day, divided into two sessions will support your cat’s digestion and overall health.

Veterinary Exams and Checkups

Taking cats in for their regular vet visits is key for maintaining gut health for cats. Your vet will be able to make sure your cat is healthy and can give your cat medical treatment if they need it. If your cat does develop digestive issues, your vet can catch them at your regular check-up. 

Another part of veterinary care is dental cleanings. Oral health in cats affects their health overall, and the bacteria that grow in the mouth with gum disease can negatively affect your cat’s digestive system. Brush your cat’s teeth at least two times a week, use daily dental sprays, or a dental water additive. (Just make sure your cat will still drink enough water!) Take your cat in for dental cleanings as often as your vet recommends. If you’re starting a new brushing habit with your adult cat, work up to brushing by practicing gently touching their mouth, a tooth, pulling up a lip, etc, when they’re calm and relaxed. 

Signs of Gut Problems

While an occasional upset tummy is par for the course with felines everywhere, more frequent vomiting and hairballs can be cause for concern. Here are signs that your kitty might have a more serious digestive issue going on.

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Decreased appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Fever

  • Dehydration

  • Abdominal pain


This is often indicated by a hunched posture, excessive abdominal grooming, or a sudden dislike of being picked up. 

  • Abdominal enlargement or distention

This means your cat’s belly is swollen, and possibly hard. 

  • Changes in behavior 


Changes in behavior like sluggishness and fatigue, irritability, less interest in playtime, or hiding more than normal can indicate health issues. 

If your cat has one of these symptoms in excess or has more than one, then calling your vet is a good idea. Common causes for digestive distress in cats are hairballs, eating something they shouldn’t, changes in their food, stress, infections or parasites, intestinal blockages, constipation, and health conditions. 

Pet Releaf CBD for Cat Gut Health

For those wondering how to help cat digestion, pet CBD for cats is the way to go. Hemp CBD is an excellent way to provide support for cat digestion. CBD, or cannabidiol, is just one of the hundreds of healthful, beneficial compounds found in hemp. It’s one of the main ones though, so it is the most studied. CBD helps support a part of your cat’s central nervous system called the endocannabinoid system. This system creates two-way communication between the nervous system and important body systems like the digestive system, the immune system, and the musculoskeletal system. This improved two-way communication allows the body to more easily maintain homeostasis and know what systems need support. This is why CBD may help with so many health issues, including digestive problems. CBD supports a healthy gut and healthy digestion in cats. Bowel issues are no fun, but CBD supports healthy bowel function. Part of how CBD helps digestion and supports gut health is by promoting a normal stomach pH, which is essential for proper digestion. 

To give your cat all the health benefits of CBD, choose Pet Releaf. Their high-quality pet CBD is made with American-grown hemp that’s farmed with sustainable and regenerative practices. This means their hemp is healthy and good for the earth. Next, it’s processed with zero heat, chemicals, or solvents allowing Pet Releaf to extract the full cannabinoid profile, including the beneficial terpenes and flavonoids. This process leaves zero traces of harmful substances, which can be leftover in other company’s products. Pet Releaf knows you love your cat, as much as they love their pets, and so they are dedicated to making the world’s best pet CBD. You can find their quality CBD oils for cats, including the USDA Organic Hemp Oil 100 and the Liposome Hemp Oil 100, at a store near you or on their website.

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