British Journal of Nutrition

Oral Presentations

Five-week dietary exposure to dry diets alters the faecal bacterial populations in the domestic cat (Felis catus)

Emma N. Berminghama1 c1, Sandra Kittelmanna2, Gemma Hendersona2, Wayne Younga1, Nicole C. Roya1a3 and David G. Thomasa4

a1 Food Nutrition Genomics Team, Food and Textiles Group, Agri-Food and Health Section, AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand

a2 Rumen Nutrition and Microbiology, AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand

a3 The Riddet Institute, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand

a4 Centre of Feline Nutrition, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand

Abstract

The effects of wet (canned) or dry (kibbled) diets on faecal bacterial populations in the cat were investigated in eight domestic short-haired cats (four males and four females; averaging 6 years of age and 3·4 kg) in a nested design. The cats were fed ad libitum a commercially available wet diet (moisture 82·0 %, crude protein 51·7 %, fat 28·9 %, carbohydrate (CHO) 8·9 % and ash 10·6 % DM) for 5 weeks. On the fifth week, individual feed intakes and faecal outputs were determined. Fresh faecal samples were collected twice daily, mixed for homogeneity, subsampled and stored at − 85°C until analysis. The cats were then switched to a commercially available dry diet (moisture 8·5 %, crude protein 33·0 %, fat 11·0 %, CHO 49·4 % and ash 6·6 % DM) for 5 weeks, and fresh faeces were sampled as described previously. Energy intake tended to be higher in cats fed dry diets (P < 0·10), but body weight was similar between the two feeding periods (P>0·05). Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of bacterial 16S rRNA genes amplified from DNA extracted from faeces was performed. The unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean cluster analysis of bacterial community profiles using Pearson's correlation revealed diet-specific clustering when the same cats were fed on either a dry or a wet diet (dissimilarity between the groups, 88·6 %; P < 0·001). Subsequent cloning and sequencing of five selected distinct DGGE bands indicated that members of the Pelomonas and Fusobacteriaceae were influenced by a short-term change in diet format. This suggests that 5-week dietary exposure is sufficient to alter gastrointestinal microflora.

(Received October 20 2010)

(Revised November 10 2010)

(Accepted December 08 2010)

(Online publication October 12 2011)

Footnotes

Abbreviations: AAFCO, Association of American Feed Control Officials; CHO, carbohydrate; DGGE, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis; HDA, heteroduplex diversity assay; UPGMA, unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean

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