The changing microbiome


As feline patients get older, their microbiomes could change as well.

When it comes to the microbiome, there is still a lot that is unknown about what exists in it, what changes in it, and why things change in it. A study conducted in 2022 surveyed the fecal microbiome communities of domestic cats in North America to help get a better understanding of the range of variations that can be found in healthy cats. The team also investigated if age, diet, and living environment of the pet could change the microbiome.1 The study aimed to establish expected ranges for the structure of the communities within a healthy population of cats to give veterinarians, clients, and those within the industry valuable insights.

The findings of the study concluded that the more influential factors that should be carefully considered when designing future studies were host diet and living environment, but some effects of age and FIV status were also detected.1

During an interview with dvm360 at the 2024 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Nicola A. Lakeman, MSc, BSc, (Hons), RVN, CertVNECC, CertSAN, VTS (Nutrition), explains that as pets and people age, their microbiomes change as well.

Below is a partial transcript

Nicola A. Lakeman, MSc, BSc, (Hons), RVN, CertVNECC, CertSAN, VTS (Nutrition): So the diversity of the population from the microbiome decreases, and that can cause issues. And extrapolating across there are studies being done in cats. We know it changes in cats as well. We know that certain prebiotics put into a specific diet that is more easily digestible can actually help increase health and lifespan of cats. So it's really important.


Ganz HH, Jospin G, Rojas CA, et al. The Kitty Microbiome Project: Defining the Healthy Fecal "Core Microbiome" in Pet Domestic Cats. Vet Sci. 2022;9(11):635. Published 2022 Nov 16. doi:10.3390/vetsci9110635

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