How to Add Extra Fiber to Cat Food

By Susan Paretts

Fiber helps your feline friend stay regular and helps to prevent hairballs. If your vet recommends adding fiber to your kitty's diet, you can do so with fiber-rich grains, fruits or veggies. Your vet may also instruct you to change Fluffy's diet altogether to one that is high in fiber.

Why Does Fluffy Need More Fiber?

Your vet might recommend a diet that is higher in fiber for your cat if she is overweight, is frequently constipated, has impacted anal glands or constantly develops hairballs. Diets high in fiber help a cat feel full, helping with weight loss and weight management. While cats are obligate carnivores, meaning the main portion of their diet must come from animal-based proteins, they still need fiber in their diet to help them move their bowels. Fiber comes from plant matter, including grains, vegetables and fruits, all of which you can add to your kitty's diet, depending on her tastes.

Powdered Fiber Supplements

Powdered fiber supplements aren't just for use in people; you can administer them to your cat -- but only under the supervision of your vet. Typically, a vet may recommend an eighth of a teaspoon of psyllium fiber powder in an adult cat's canned food each day. Choose unflavored varieties of this fiber powder so your kitty won't taste it in her food. Your vet might also recommend adding 1 teaspoon of bran to your feline friend's food daily.

Fiber From Fruits or Vegetables

With your vet's approval, you can add a bit of fruits or vegetables to your cat's food to give her the fiber that she needs. Canned or cooked, fresh pumpkin is a natural fiber source that most cats enjoy eating. The vet may recommend 1 teaspoon daily in your cat's wet or dry food daily, divided over two meals. Don't purchase pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar that your feline friend doesn't need in her diet, instead opting for pure canned pumpkin. The vet may allow the same amount of strained prunes, mashed cooked carrots or mashed peas -- find out which one your kitty prefers. Start with a quarter-teaspoon per day and work your way up to the full amount over a period of a week or two.

High Fiber Diets

While you can add fiber sources to your cat's existing food, if your vet's OK with it, you may also want to transition her diet onto one formulated with fiber already added. These foods, canned or dry, contain moderately fermentable fibers like beet pulp in larger amounts than traditional diets. Most foods contain between 1.4 and 3.5 percent fiber, according to the Iams website, although high-fiber versions may contain more. The National Research Council recommends that cat food can safely contain up to 10 percent fiber. Consult with your vet to formulate your kitty's diet, and always make any dietary transitions slowly, over a period of weeks, to prevent stomach upset.