• intestinal microbiota;
  • cats;
  • qPCR;
  • DGGE


The objective of this study was to identify qualitative and quantitative differences in microbial populations of adult cats fed diets containing different protein concentrations. Following a 4 week baseline period, eight healthy adult domestic short-hair queens (>1-year-old) were randomly allotted to a moderate-protein (MP; n = 4) or high-protein (HP; n = 4) diet for 8 weeks. Fresh faecal samples were collected after baseline and 8 weeks on treatment and stored at −80 °C. Following DNA extraction, samples were analyzed using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis to distinguish qualitative changes between diets. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to measure E. coli, Bifidobacterium, Clostridium perfringens, and Lactobacillus populations. Compared to baseline, cats fed MP had a bacterial similarity index of 66.7% as opposed to 40.6% similarity for those fed HP, exhibiting marked changes in intestinal bacteria of cats fed HP. Bifidobacterium populations were greater (p < 0.05) in cats fed MP versus HP (9.44 vs. 5.63 CFU/g). Clostridium perfringens populations were greater (p < 0.05) in cats fed HP than MP (12.39 vs. 10.83 CFU/g). In this experiment, a high-protein diet resulted in a dramatic shift in microbial populations. Decreased Bifidobacterium population in cats fed HP may justify prebiotic supplementation for such diets.