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EC22-023: The obesity-microbiome connection – determine gut flora signatures of obese cat

Feline obesity is a health epidemic affecting around 45% of pet cats and is linked to a wide number of systemic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer, arthritis, kidney, and respiratory diseases. Studies have demonstrated that obesity has adverse effects on the health and lifespan of domestic cats. There is an urgent need to increase pet owner awareness that obesity is a serious health issue within the veterinary profession. However, owners often do not perceive the risk associated with overweight and obese cats. Obesity and obesity-associated disease also have a major economic impact on veterinary medicine. Obesity usually results from the lack of physical activity or unhealthy energy content of the diet. The main therapeutic options for obesity in companion animals include dietary management and increasing physical activity. At this time, licensed drugs for treating obesity are not available for cats. The gut flora, the collection of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract, is directly related to digestion, nutrient metabolism, and assimilation, which play important roles in obesity. The proposed study was based on our novel findings of seven significantly altered bacterial species in our genomic research in obese vs. normal cat gut microbiota. The aim is to develop a novel obesity measurement utilizing the microbiota signatures, which is noninvasive through fecal samples and is a direct correlate to the feline digestive and metabolic status. Understanding the obese cat gut microbiota will facilitate the development of treatment strategies through the dietary shift, probiotics, and gut microbiota manipulations

Grant ID: EC22-023

Status: Active

Year Funded: 2022

Amount awarded: $34,583

Investigator: Xu Wang, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine