The Effect of Obesity and Weight Loss on the Feline Fecal Microbiota, Inflammation and Intestinal Health Markers

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Tal Gavriel, Moran
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University of Guelph

Obesity in cats is a universal epidemic, with disastrous health repercussions. Obesity in humans and mice is associated with a low-grade inflammatory state, and an “obese microbiome”. However, similar study of cats is limited. Studies with client-owned cats include challenges that may influence results, such as optimal sample collection. Therefore, the impact of 4-day storage at ambient temperature on feline fecal microbial abundance and diversity was evaluated, with no observed significant changes. These findings suggest that short-term storage of fecal samples at ambient temperature has no detrimental impact. Exploring obesity-related effects on microbiota and assessing the obesity-associated inflammatory response can lead to the development of alternative strategies to address feline adiposity and related health consequences. The effects of feline obesity and weight loss on the fecal microbiota, as well as inflammation and intestinal health markers, were investigated in obese cats before and after a standardized weight loss program, and compared to lean cats. There was little apparent impact of weight loss on the fecal microbiota in obese cats, as no differences in relative abundance of taxa and biodiversity indices between lean and obese cats before weight loss. However, a group of enriched operational taxonomic units was identified in obese cats before weight loss compared to lean cats, with nearly half belonging to Firmicutes. Some members of which may be involved in energy-harvesting efficiency. In addition, one of the enriched members belonged to the Prevotellaceae family, which includes folate producers. An increase in folate levels is considered a negative intestinal health marker in cats. Higher serum folate concentrations were also observed in cats before compared to after weight loss, and higher serum cobalamin concentrations were measured in lean cats compared to both obese groups. Inflammatory markers did not differ between obese and lean cats following a diet adaptation period, yet some pro-inflammatory markers (e.g. Flt3 and interleukin β-1) were increased after weight loss, which suggests an inflammatory process associated with weight loss. In conclusion, obesity in cats is suggested to be affiliated with energy harvesting and compromised intestinal health. An inflammatory response may be triggered by a traditional weight loss plan.

Fecal microbiota, Feline obesity, Weight loss, Metabolic inflammation, Intestinal health