What I mean is this: is a domestic cat exposed to enough microbes and germs in order to keep both his immune system and his gastrointestinal tract (GI) healthy?
With respect to people, there is evidence that germs from family members keep immune systems working properly. There should be a steady exposure to bacteria because without that children are at a greater risk of immune system disorders.
What about the domestic cat? Particularly the full-time indoor cat. This is a complicated subject and very little if anything has been written about it on the Internet.
There are some articles on how the presence of a domestic cat can improve the immune system of a child. It’s about the same subject in point of fact. It’s about being exposed to germs and microbes and bacteria etc. in order to boost the immune system and to create a healthy GI.
I think we can break this subject down into two parts. We have the gastrointestinal tract and general exposure to microbes. As for the GI we know that good bacteria in the gut helps ward off disease by presenting a barrier to bad bacteria and it can improve the general well-being of a person by improving the gastrointestinal tract. A proactive step that can be taken to try and improve gut bacteria is to give your cat probiotic supplements.
I’m not saying probiotics are a good thing. It is up to individuals to make their own decisions about that. The other part of this topic is allowing a cat to be generally exposed to microbes and germs of all kinds. When I think of this I wonder whether a hidden benefit for a cat going outside is that they are more exposed to these microbes and germs. You might think that is a bad thing because they’re liable to become ill but if they are exposed to these germs at an early age then their immune system will respond by building up antibodies thereby creating a more robust immune system.
When I think of the natural diet of the domestic cat I think of the mouse. When a cat eats a mouse they eat almost everything except the bile duct and gall bladder which is bitter. The mouse will contain a lot of bacteria of all kinds which passes into the GI of the domestic cat thereby making the cat’s gut more healthy and functional and more able to present a barrier to bad bacteria. The cat is also exposed to the mouse as prey which in turn exposes the cat to microbes and germs etc.
These are all natural steps in a natural process and if we distance our cat from these natural processes and make his environment too sterile it could be argued that he will develop a less robust immune system and possibly a GI that is less able to present a barrier to disease.
As I said, these are just thoughts and no more. I could be wrong. There is a general trend, however, by medical specialists in realising that the better way to ward off illnesses is not to consistently prescribe antibiotics which eventually become less effective but to ensure that the person, or it might be a companion animal, is placed in the best possible position to ward off illnesses himself through a healthy immune system and gastrointestinal tract.