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Dietary fibre and the importance of the gut microbiota in feline nutrition: a review

  • Kristel Rochus (a1), Geert P. J. Janssens (a1) and Myriam Hesta (a1)

Abstract

Domestic cats are obligate carnivores and in this light hindgut fermentation has been considered unimportant in this species. However, a diverse microbiota has been found in the small and large intestines of domestic cats. Additionally, in vitro and in vivo studies support the hypothesis that microbial fermentation is significant in felines with potential benefits to the host. Results on microbiota composition and microbial counts in different regions of the feline gastrointestinal tract are compiled, including a description of modulating host and technical factors. Additionally, the effects of dietary fibre supplementation on the microbiota composition are described. In a second section, in vitro studies, using inocula from fresh feline faeces and focusing on the fermentation characteristics of diverse plant substrates, are described. In vivo studies have investigated the effects of dietary fibre on a broad range of physiological outcomes. Results of this research, together with studies on effects of plant fibre on colonic morphology and function, protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and the effects of plant fibre on disease conditions that require a decrease in dietary protein intake, are shown in a third section of the present review. Conclusively, for fructans and beet pulp, for example, diverse beneficial effects have been demonstrated in the domestic cat. Both dietary fibre sources are regularly used in the pet food industry. More research is warranted to reveal the potential benefits of other fibre sources that can be used on a large scale in feline diets for healthy and diseased cats.

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Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: K. Rochus, fax +32 92647848, email rochuskristel@gmail.com

References

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Dietary fibre and the importance of the gut microbiota in feline nutrition: a review

  • Kristel Rochus (a1), Geert P. J. Janssens (a1) and Myriam Hesta (a1)

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