Faecal microbial populations of growing kittens fed high- or moderate-protein diets

Brittany M. Vester, Beth L. Dalsing, Ingmar S. Middelbos, Carolyn J. Apanavicius, Dustin C. Lubbs, Kelly S. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to investigate the intestinal microbiota of growing kittens fed moderate- or high-protein diets using DNA-based qualitative and quantitative techniques. Kittens were weaned to a high-protein (HP; n = 7) or moderate-protein (MP; n = 10) diet at 8 weeks of age. Fresh faecal samples were collected at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. DNA was extracted and quantitative PCR used to quantify Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Clostridium perfringens, and Escherichia coli concentrations. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis was performed to create a dendrogram and unrooted trees using Bionumerics 5.0 to identify similarity due to litter, age, or diet. Kittens fed HP had lower (p = 0.02) Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus counts than MP-fed kittens. E. coli was lower (p = 0.02) in HP-fed kittens and tended to be affected by age (p = 0.09). Kittens were clustered by litter at 8 weeks of age, and then clustered by diet at 12 and 16 weeks of age. Our data suggest that faecal microbiota of growing kittens change after weaning and that dietary protein concentration affects E. coli, Bifidobacterium, and Lactobacillus populations. The relevance of these data in terms of intestinal health and disease remain to be determined and justifies further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-265
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Animal Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009


  • Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis
  • Intestine
  • Kittens
  • Microbiota
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Protein intake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)

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