Your Cat’s Microbiome and Her Health

Study finds link between gut and respiratory microbiomes

Your cat’s microbiome refers to the natural colony of microorganisms that live in and on her body. These microorganisms can include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These organisms are all part of a healthy cat when they are the “right” species and in the “right” numbers. A shift in species or an overgrowth of one or many can influence your cat’s overall health.

A study carried out at Oregon State University looked at the respiratory and gut microbiomes of eight cats with chronic upper respiratory disease and compared them to healthy cats in the cats’ households. The researchers were working on the theory that a shift in the microbiome might make these cats more susceptible to chronic respiratory infections, or that the chronic infections might change their microbiomes. Other studies have shown an association between gut and respiratory microbiomes.

In this study, both gut and respiratory microbiomes showed an association with chronic clinical signs of respiratory disease in cats. Additional research will be needed to determine if the microbiome changes helped to cause the clinical signs by influencing inflammation or if these changes are secondary to the disease process.

Such further studies would need to clearly isolate the exact cause of the respiratory disease since many different pathogens can contribute to a similar clinical picture. This study also concentrated on the bacterial components of the microbiome, while fungi may be equally important for respiratory problems. The fact that healthy cats had different bacterial species in their microbiomes suggests that the use of probiotics may ultimately be proven beneficial in cast with chronic respiratory disease.ν

Arnold, H.k., et al. “Chronic clinical signs of upper respiratory tract disease associate with gut and respiratory microbiomes in a cohort of domestic felines,” PLOS One, December 1, 2022.