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Normal bacterial populations of a cat’s mouth

Sturgeon A, Pinder SL, Costa MC, Weese JS. Characterization of the oral microbiota of healthy cats using next-generation sequencing. Vet J. 2014 Aug; 201(3): 223-229.

One recent area of medical interest is how microbiota (the microbial populations) of different organ systems play a role in health and disease. One current area of focus is the microbiota of the oral cavity. This is of particular of concern due to periodontal disease being one the most prevalent diseases in cats. What bacteria are present in cat bite wounds reflects what type of bacteria can be present from the feline oral microbiome. Of animal bite wounds to humans, 8% are from cats and with a 50% incidence of infection from bites, understanding the makeup of the feline oral microbiota is valuable in this situation.

Next-generation sequencing was utilized for the study for determining an accurate description of the oral microbiota. Culture of samples from the oral cavity has been the prior standard means of determining the feline oral microbial population. Culture can create a misinterpretation of the characteristics of the oral microbiome due to potentially attributing importance to bacterial species easily cultivated and underestimating bacteria that grow poorly on culture media. The oral samples used for sequencing came from 11 healthy cats living in households. Samples were collected from two cats in the same household for five of the six households studied. All of the cats had no history of dental procedures prior or diagnosis of oral or dental disease in the 6 –months following the sampling.

Results of the study were of interest and demonstrated the complex, diverse, and abundant number of microbial populations of the feline oral cavity. Sequencing generated 10,177 operational taxonomic units representing 273 genera from 18 bacterial phyla. Eight of the bacterial phyla made up 97.6% of the sequences. The most prevalent taxa were Protobacteria  (unclassified Pasteurellaceae, Moraxella, Thermomonas, Neisseria, unclassified Maraxellaceae, Pasteurella), Bacteroides (Porphyromonas) and Firmicutes (unclassified Clostridiales). One surprising finding was discovering Thermomonas in a fairly higher percentage (6.9%) of all the cats when it has not been recovered from the oral cavity of cats previously. Having a better understanding of the oral microbiota composition should assist in the design of studies to determine its role in disease and what outside factors may influence this composition. In addition to the intriguing findings beyond the strong core microbiome among all the cats in the study, it was observed that there was an intra-household similarity. Could this mean influences can be modified, such as diet or environment, and impact the microbiota? Could cats that live together share risks for diseases associated with their oral microbial populations? Further study of the oral microbiome may answer these questions. (VT)

See also:

Minamoto Y, Hooda S, Swanson KS, Suchodolski JS. Feline gastrointestinal microbiota. Anim Health Res Rev. 2012 June; 13 (1): 64-77.