Investigation of the faecal microbiota of geriatric cats


Anne L. McCartney, Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AP, Berkshire, UK. E-mail:


Aims:  Aim of the study was to investigate the faecal microbiota of geriatric cats, as aging affects the nutrient digestibility and metabolic function of the feline intestine.

Methods and Results:  Twenty geriatric cats were randomly assigned to two groups that were fed different foods. Coriobacteriaceae, Clostridium cluster XIV, bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria were the dominant faecal bacterial groups, accounting for c. 40% of total bacteria. Clostridium cluster IX was less predominant (0·5% of total bacteria), while the remaining bacterial populations enumerated only accounted for 0·2% of total bacteria. Highly diverse microbial profiles were demonstrated for geriatric cats with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, although a few common bands were evident. Some differences were seen in the feline faecal microbiota between animal groups at the same time or over time for individual animals. However, no obvious clustering based on animal group or sample time was indicated.

Conclusions:  Geriatric cats harboured a complex faecal microbiota and c. 41% of total bacteria have been detected with the probes employed.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  First molecular-based study examining faecal microbiota of geriatric felines. Knowledge of the microbiota associated with ageing in cats may allow improved development of foods specific for the needs of senior cats.