Our feline friends can be picky eaters, and we can be just as particular about what we put in their bowls. The labels on cat food can be confusing because of all the unusual ingredients.
In this article, we’ll explain what guar gum is and whether or not it belongs in your cat’s food.
Cluster bean (from which guar gum is extracted) is used as a thickener and stabilizer in canned cat food.
Guar gum is safe enough to use as a laxative in cats. Guar gum in wet cat food has been linked to decreased protein absorption, diarrhea, and gas in older cats.
What is Guar Gum?
Guar gum is a water-soluble gum extracted from the endosperm of the cluster (guar) bean, Cyamopsis tetragonoloba, and is used as a thickener and stabilizer in many canned foods for both humans and animals.
There are also medical, cosmetic, and industrial uses for guar gum. The Food and Drug Administration in the United States and similar organizations around the world have confirmed its safety.
Guar gum, or galactomannan, is primarily made up of galactose and mannose. Protein, soluble fiber, ash, and moisture are also present, though in much lower concentrations.
When dissolved in water, it becomes extremely thick and can be used as a thickener. It’s a staple ingredient in a wide variety of dairy products, including ice cream, frozen foods, beverages, baked goods, sauces, and more.
Where Does it Come From?
Historically grown in India and Pakistan for hundreds of years as a source of protein for humans, horses, and cattle, the cluster bean was brought to the United States in the middle of the twentieth century to be researched for its potential use in the paper industry.
Although many countries now cultivate guar, the vast majority comes from India and Pakistan. Powdered guar gum that has been certified as organic by the USDA comes from a large grower and processor in Texas.
Guar Gum in Cat Food
For even distribution of meats and vegetables, as well as to eliminate the need for owners to stir canned food, guar gum is used to stabilize ingredients in wet cat food. This non-digestible soluble fiber makes cat food very thick and helps it to keep its moisture content.
Soluble fiber may encourage soft stools and bowel regularity, and guar gum is thought to be safe when consumed in commercial cat food at acceptable levels.
One potential caveat: a 0.4% guar gum addition to commercial wet cat food reduced protein digestibility and increased stool moisture in geriatric cats.
The elimination of guar gum may be recommended by your veterinarian if other possible causes for your senior cat’s diarrhea, gas, increased appetite, or weight loss have been ruled out.
Benefits in People
Guar gum can help both diarrhea and constipation in some people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Some laxatives rely on it as their main active ingredient. The reduction of blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as the decrease in blood pressure, the increase in mineral absorption, and the decrease in calorie consumption are additional benefits. However, research on these benefits in cats is lacking.
What is Guar Gum Allergy?
Fiber from guar gum is used to maintain the kibble shape of pet food. Although many animals are not sensitive to this component, some are.
Constipation, bloating, and even inflammatory bowel disease can occur in cats that are sensitive to it.
Food allergies cannot be cured other than by eliminating the offending food from the diet, so treatment is limited to alleviating the symptoms.
Your cat will continue to show symptoms if you don’t take the guar gum out of his diet.
If you can keep it out of his diet, he has a good chance of getting better.
Many commercial pet food brands include guar gum as a fiber ingredient. If your cat is sensitive to it, he may experience stomach problems. Talk to your vet if your cat fits this description.
Symptoms of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats
Cat Allergy to Guar Gum: Symptoms
- Sluggish gastrointestinal motility
- Syndrome of Inflammation of the Bowel
The purified fiber found in guar gum promotes rapid fermentation. It’s a kind of gel that forms when the fiber is added to a liquid, and it’s a soluble fiber.
It takes longer for the stomach to empty, prevents some nutrients from being absorbed, promotes fermentation in the colon, doesn’t add much bulk, and slows intestinal transit.
Causes of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats
An individual with a guar gum allergy has developed a hypersensitivity reaction to this food additive.
If your cat reacts negatively to certain foods or ingredients, it’s because his immune system has mistakenly identified them as harmful invaders.
Signs of colitis can be made worse by an allergy to guar gum, and it can even cause secondary gastrointestinal conditions.
Diagnosis of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats
When you get to the vet, she’ll do a thorough physical exam to determine the severity of your cat’s symptoms.
She’ll be able to examine his symptoms in depth and rule out potential causes. Your vet will get a verbal history from you as well as an exam.
She will inquire as to when you first noticed your cat’s symptoms, if they have worsened, if you have tried any home remedies, etc. The veterinarian’s diagnosis will be greatly aided by all of the information provided here.
The vet will first need to rule out other conditions that could be causing your cat’s symptoms, like gastrointestinal parasites or intestinal blockage.
If she suspects a parasitic infection, she may take a feces sample. To determine if there is a blockage or if his intestines are still moving, she may order radiographs of his abdomen.
If this doesn’t help, she may want to perform an ultrasound on his stomach to see how healthy it is.
An elimination diet trial is the only reliable method for determining whether or not a person has a food allergy. In this case, you should keep guar gum out of your cat’s diet for at least a year.
Within a week to three weeks, his digestive system should be free of gluten and his symptoms should improve.
If his symptoms have improved during this time, you can confirm that he is cured by reinstating guar gum into his diet. You’ll know for sure if his symptoms return after you restart his guar gum intake.
Treatment of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats
An allergy to guar gum has no definitive medical cure. Instead, the vet may prescribe symptomatic relief measures to help your cat feel better.
For instance, if the guar gum is causing him stomach pain, your vet can prescribe medication and treat the underlying problem.
To help his digestive system function, she may prescribe medication.
It’s possible that she’ll need to do an enema to get things moving again. The course of treatment for your cat will depend on his individual diagnosis.
It would be ideal to discover what is causing your cat’s allergy. If you can determine that he is allergic to guar gum, you can take steps to eliminate the potential for further development of his condition by eliminating the food source.
Your cat’s allergy will persist unless the guar gum is removed, as this will only alleviate his symptoms and not the underlying cause.
If he develops chronic issues, such as constipation or bloating, this could even become an emergency situation.
Recovery of Guar Gum Allergy in Cats
It will be an uphill battle to keep your cat’s symptoms under control if you can’t figure out what’s triggering her allergy.
You’ll need to take him to the vet multiple times to get him prescribed medication and therapy to alleviate his discomfort.
You’ll need to keep tabs on his bowel movements and determine whether or not they’re regular.
If you can identify guar gum as the cause of your cat’s allergy and eliminate it from his diet, he has a good chance of recovering.
The Bottom Line
Canned cat food often contains guar gum, a natural and generally safe food additive. It improves the consistency of wet cat food and increases the amount of soluble fiber in it.
Guar gum in cat food may help loosen stools if your feline friend has trouble passing waste. Eliminating guar gum from the diet of cats with diarrhea, weight loss, and bloating may help, but a veterinarian should be consulted to rule out other, more common causes.