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Although previous studies have reported Leptospira carriage in kidneys and urine of cats, the role of these animals in leptospirosis epidemiology remains poorly understood. Using molecular methods, we investigated Leptospira renal carriage in 172 feral cats from Reunion Island, an oceanic geographically isolated island located in the South West Indian Ocean. Only one out of the 172 analysed specimens tested positive for Leptospira DNA through quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Using this positive sample, we could obtain sequences at three Leptospira loci (rrs2, lipL32 and lipL41) allowing to report for the first time Leptospira borgpetersenii naturally infecting cats. Comparisons with bacterial sequences from both acute human cases and animal reservoirs revealed similarities with Leptospira sequences previously reported on Reunion Island. However, the low prevalence (0.6%) reported herein does not support any major role of feral cats in leptospirosis epidemiology on Reunion Island, contrasting with results recently reported on another Indian Ocean Island, Christmas Island. The significance of these discrepancies is discussed.
To date, there are no recent studies identifying the prevalence of parasites of human and veterinary importance in dogs and cats in Ireland. The interaction between pets and wildlife species in the environment is an important source of parasite exposure to canids and felines, and one likely to be heightened in the stray animal population. This study aimed to establish the prevalence of endoparasites in unowned dogs and cats in County Dublin, Ireland. Feces from stray dogs (n = 627) and cats (n = 289) entering a rehoming centre were collected immediately after defecation. The main parasitic agents detected were ascarids (15.52 and 30.26%), Cystoisospora (3.27 and 3.69%), Giardia spp. (6.02 and 1.84%) and lungworms (0.64 and 2.08%), in dogs and cats respectively. Animals younger than 3 months of age were more likely to be infected with ascarids (P < 0.001) and Cystoisospora spp. (P = 0.008 and P = 0.014) than older animals. All lungworms were morphologically identified and dogs were infected with Angiostrongylus vasorum (0.48%) and Crenosoma vulpis (0.16%) whereas cats were only infected with Aelurostrongylus abstrusus (2.08%). This represents the first prevalence study of stray animals in Ireland. Data collected will inform the treatment and in addition, the future monitoring and control studies of parasite populations.
Phosphorus is present in diets as naturally occurring P from raw materials or added as an inorganic salt. However, little is known about postprandial kinetics of P absorption in cats. Here, we describe several studies quantifying postprandial kinetics following the ingestion of diets of varying composition. Briefly, cats were fed a meal consisting of 50 % of their metabolic energy requirement in a randomised crossover design. A pre-meal baseline blood sample was taken via cephalic catheter and repeated measurements taken regularly up to 6 h post-meal to assess the whole blood ionised Ca, plasma P and parathyroid hormone concentrations. A diet containing 4·8 g total P/4184 kJ (1000 kcal), 3·5 g P from sodium dihydrogen phosphate (NaH2PO4)/4184 kJ (1000 kcal) and Ca:P 0·6 caused a marked increase in plasma P from baseline to a peak of 1·976 (95% CI 1·724, 2·266) mmol/l (P <0·001), whereas a diet containing 3·38 g total P/4184 kJ (1000 kcal), no added inorganic P and Ca:P 1·55 resulted in a postprandial decrease in plasma P (P = 0·008). Subsequent data indicate that added inorganic P salts in the diet above 0·5 g P/4184 kJ (1000 kcal) cause an increase in plasma P in cats, while diets below this do not. The data presented here demonstrate that sources of added inorganic P salts cause a temporary postprandial increase in plasma P in a dose-dependent manner, prolonged in diets with Ca:P <1·0. Dietary P derived from natural food ingredients (e.g. meat or vegetable matter) does not appear to have any effect on postprandial plasma P.
Surveys report that 25–57 % of cats are overweight or obese. The most evinced cause is neutering. Weight loss often fails; thus, new strategies are needed. Obesity has been associated with altered gut bacterial populations and increases in microbial dietary energy extraction, body weight and adiposity. This study aimed to determine whether alterations in intestinal bacteria were associated with obesity, energy restriction and neutering by characterising faecal microbiota using 16S rRNA gene sequencing in eight lean intact, eight lean neutered and eight obese neutered cats before and after 6 weeks of energy restriction. Lean neutered cats had a bacterial profile similar to obese rodents and humans, with a greater abundance (P<0·05) of Firmicutes and lower abundance (P<0·05) of Bacteroidetes compared with the other groups. The greater abundance of Firmicutes in lean neutered cats was due to a bloom in Peptostreptococcaceae. Obese cats had an 18 % reduction in fat mass after energy restriction (P<0·05). Energy reduction was concurrent with significant shifts in two low-abundance bacterial genera and trends in four additional genera. The greatest change was a reduction in the Firmicutes genus, Sarcina, from 4·54 to 0·65 % abundance after energy restriction. The short duration of energy restriction may explain why few bacterial changes were observed in the obese cats. Additional work is needed to understand how neutering, obesity and weight loss are related to changes in feline microbiota and how these microbial shifts affect host physiology.
The present study aimed to evaluate the inter-individual variability in fermentation of standard fibrous substrates by faecal inocula from ten healthy adult female cats. Substrates were citrus pectin (CP), fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), guar gum (GG), sugar beet pulp (SBP) and wheat middlings (WM). Each substrate was incubated with faecal inoculum from each cat. Gas production was measured continuously during the 48 h incubation and SCFA and organic matter disappearance (only SBP and WM) after incubation. Out of ten cats, nine produced faeces on the days of inoculum preparation. The substrates contrasted in terms of fermentation parameters measured. The inter-individual variability was in general lower for the more simple and pure substrates (CP, FOS, GG) than for the more complex substrates containing mixtures of fibres (SBP, WM). Furthermore, for total SCFA and gas produced, inter-individual variability was lower than for proportions of butyrate and of branched-chain fatty acids and for the parameters of gas production kinetics. It is concluded that the variability in in vitro fermentation parameters is associated with the complexity of fibrous substrates. The presented data are instrumental for the calculation of number of faecal donors required for precise in vitro characterisation of the fermentability of dietary fibres. In addition, the number of faecal donors should be adjusted to the specific fermentation parameter(s) of interest.
To gain knowledge on the precision of an in vitro method for characterisation of the fermentability of dietary fibres, this study aimed to evaluate the repeatability and reproducibility of such a method. Substrates used were citrus pectin (CP), fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), guar gum (GG), sugar beet pulp (SBP) and wheat middlings (WM). Each substrate was incubated with faecal inoculum from five cats with three replicates for each substrate–cat combination. Gas production was measured continuously during the 48 h incubation and SCFA and organic matter disappearance (only SBP and WM) were determined after incubation. Four consecutive runs were performed. The within-run variability (repeatability) was generally lower for the more simple and pure substrates (CP, FOS, GG) than for the more complex substrates containing mixtures of fibres (SBP, WM). Replicates showed high variability, in particular for SCFA profiles and parameters of gas production kinetics. The between-run CV (reproducibility) for the measured parameters were, in general, below 10 % for CP, FOS and GG and higher values were obtained for SBP and WM. It is concluded that for precise dietary fibre characterisation, the number of replicates should be multiple and adjusted according to the variability of the parameters of interest and the complexity of fibres. The method yielded reproducible results with some variation in absolute values obtained, which may have an impact on the significance level of the differences among substrates.
The effects of different temperature and time conditions during retorting of canned cat food on physicochemical characteristics and palatability were examined. For this purpose, lacquer cans containing an unprocessed loaf-type commercial cat food were heated in a pressurised retorting system at three specified temperature–time profiles (113°C/232 min, 120°C/103 min and 127°C/60 min) to equal a similar lethality (F0 value = 30). Physicochemical properties (viscosity, texture, particle size, pH) were determined, and a 10 d three-bowl palatability test was performed with ten European shorthair cats. Retorting at 113°C/232 min resulted in differences in all the physical parameters examined (<viscosity, firmness, adhesiveness, and > particle size). Significant pH differences were observed (6·53, 6·63 and 6·66 for T113/232, 120 and 127°C, respectively). Preference ratios were 0·38, 0·31 and 0·31 for T113/232, 120 and 127°C, respectively (P = 0·067). It can be concluded that different retorting temperature–time profiles with equal F0 value significantly affect physical characteristics and tended to affect palatability of moist cat food.
Neutering is a risk factor for obesity in companion animals. In a study to determine the total energy requirements of kittens (15–52 weeks) the impact of neutering and age when neutered on intake and body weight (BW) was investigated. Females (n 14), neutered when 19 (early neuter; EN) or 31 (conventional neuter; CN) weeks old (n 7/group), were individually fed to maintain an ideal body condition score (BCS). EN kittens gained weight gradually whilst CN kittens’ BW gain slowed from week 24, weighing less than EN kittens from week 30 with a reduced energy intake (kcal/kg BW0·67) in weeks 24–32 (P < 0·05). Following neutering, CN cats’ BW and energy intake increased rapidly (energy intake CN > EN in weeks 36–40). Although EN required earlier diet restriction, acute hyperphagia and increased rate of BW gain following neutering were not observed. Earlier neutering may aid healthy weight management through growth when regulating intake to maintain an ideal BCS.
Obesity levels in cats are increasing and the main causative factor is higher energy intake v. energy expenditure over time. Therefore, altering energy expenditure by enhancing physical activity of the cat could be a strategy to reduce obesity. Hydrating commercial dry diets with water increased activity in cats; however, no study has compared this approach with feeding high-moisture canned diets. Eight healthy male neutered domestic shorthair cats were fed four different dietary treatments in a Latin square design. Treatments were a canned diet ‘as is’ (82 % moisture) and freeze-dried (4 %), a dry diet ‘as is’ (3 %) and with added water (70 %). Cat activity was measured continuously using Actical® accelerometers. Cats were group housed during the first 14 d of each period and then moved to individual cages for 7 d with faecal and urine production measured over the final 4 d. Intake was similar for each diet. The average activity over 24 h was not different between treatments (P > 0·05). However, the ratio between average activity during the day v. at night was higher when cats were fed the dry diet (P = 0·030). Total water intake and urine volume increased when the canned diet was fed (P < 0·001). The similarity in total activity of the cats on the treatments indicates that dietary moisture or diet type did not have a major effect on these cats. However, the stronger diurnal activity patterns observed in the cats when they were fed the dry diet are intriguing and require further study.
The protozoan Toxoplasma gondii infects about one-third of the world's population. The consumption of raw meat, contact with cats, contact with soil, and ingestion of food or water contaminated with soil are considered to be the most important sources of infection. Still in most women who were infected during pregnancy, no definitive source of infection is found. In 2014–2016, independent sources of T. gondii infection were searched for by gathering epidemiological data from 1865 (519 infected) responders. Touching garden soil (odds ratio (OR) 3·14, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·3–6·35), sustaining cat-related injuries (OR 2·16, 95% CI 1·25–3·74), and eating improperly washed root vegetables (OR 1·71, 95% CI 1·02–2·87), but not risky sexual behavior (OR 1·22, 95% CI 0·79–1·90), were the predictors of infection. The seroprevalence of T. gondii infection had been increasing up to ages 35–50 in men and ages 50–54 in women. Past those ages, seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis has been decreasing. This suggests that the natural decrease of anamnestic antibodies concentrations over time leads to positivity-to-negativity seroconversion in many subjects. If this is true, then the prevalence of T. gondii infection in a general population and its potential impacts on public health could be much larger than generally believed.
Obesity in pets is a frustrating, major health problem. Obesity in human children is similar. Prevailing theories accounting for the rising obesity rates – for example, poor nutrition and sedentary activity – are being challenged. Obesity interventions in both pets and children have produced modest short-term but poor long-term results. New strategies are needed. A novel theory posits that obesity in pets and children is due to ‘treats’ and excessive meal amounts given by the ‘pet–parent’ and child–parent to obtain affection from the pet/child, which enables ‘eating addiction’ in the pet/child and results in parental ‘co-dependence’. Pet–parents and child–parents may even become hostage to the treats/food to avoid the ire of the pet/child. Eating addiction in the pet/child also may be brought about by emotional factors such as stress, independent of parental co-dependence. An applicable treatment for child obesity has been trialled using classic addiction withdrawal/abstinence techniques, as well as behavioural addiction methods, with significant results. Both the child and the parent progress through withdrawal from specific ‘problem foods’, next from snacking (non-specific foods) and finally from excessive portions at meals (gradual reductions). This approach should adapt well for pets and pet–parents. Pet obesity is more ‘pure’ than child obesity, in that contributing factors and treatment points are essentially under the control of the pet–parent. Pet obesity might thus serve as an ideal test bed for the treatment and prevention of child obesity, with focus primarily on parental behaviours. Sharing information between the fields of pet and child obesity would be mutually beneficial.
This paper reviews the occurrence and impact of threadworms, Strongyloides spp., in companion animals and large livestock, the potential zoonotic implications and future research. Strongyloides spp. infect a range of domestic animal species worldwide and clinical disease is most often encountered in young animals. Dogs are infected with Strongyloides stercoralis while cats are infected with different species according to geographical location (Strongyloides felis, Strongyloides tumefaciens, Strongyloides planiceps and perhaps S. stercoralis). In contrast to the other species, lactogenic transmission is not a primary means of infection in dogs, and S. stercoralis is the only species considered zoonotic. Strongyloides papillosus in calves has been linked to heavy fatalities under conditions of high stocking density. Strongyloides westeri and Strongyloides ransomi of horses and pigs, respectively, cause only sporadic clinical disease. In conclusion, these infections are generally of low relative importance in livestock and equines, most likely due to extensive use of macrocyclic lactone anthelmintics and/or improved hygiene. Future prevalence studies need to include molecular typing of Strongyloides species in relation to different hosts. More research is urgently needed on the potential zoonotic capacity of Strongyloides from dogs and cats based on molecular typing, information on risk factors and mapping of transmission routes.
Aelurostrongylus abstrusus is a worldwide occurring lungworm affecting felids. This metastrongyloid nematode has an indirect lifecycle relying on slugs and snails as intermediate hosts. In the present study the development of first-stage (L1) to third-stage larvae (L3) in the tropical freshwater pulmonate snail Biomphalaria glabrata was assessed. A total of 306 snails were individually exposed to 300 A. abstrusus L1, which were obtained from a naturally infected stray cat. The species was confirmed by biomolecular analysis. Second stage larvae (L2) and L3 were first isolated by artificial digestion of snails in the second and fourth week post exposure (wpe), respectively. From 8 wpe onwards, all larvae had developed into L3. Snails remained infected for up to 26 wpe. Only 0.4% of the L1 had pursued their development into L3, indicating low suitability of this artificial intermediate host for production of infective A. abstrusus L3.
In pets, as in humans, there is increasing interest in interventions that promote ‘health and well-being’ into later life and extend these beyond their current limits. The purpose of this review was to assess the relevance of current knowledge of ageing in humans, described in a companion paper, as well as reviewing recent research on ageing in pet populations. The role of diet and other factors that influence the ageing process and ultimately lifespan in pets are highlighted in this review; in addition, future opportunities and challenges to further our understanding of the ageing process in pets are identified. Advancing knowledge of the fundamental biology of ageing will be key for the development and evaluation of strategies that extend both the quality and the quantity of lifespan in human and pet populations.
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.
Domestic dogs diverged from grey wolves between 13 000 and 17 000 years ago when food waste from human settlements provided a new niche. Compared to the carnivorous cat, modern-day dogs differ in several digestive and metabolic traits that appear to be more associated with omnivorous such as man, pigs and rats. This has led to the classification of dogs as omnivores, but the origin of these ‘omnivorous’ traits has, hitherto, been left unexplained. We discuss the foraging ecology of wild wolves and calculate the nutrient profiles of fifty diets reported in the literature. Data on the feeding ecology of wolves indicate that wolves are true carnivores consuming a negligible amount of vegetal matter. Wolves can experience prolonged times of famine during low prey availability while, after a successful hunt, the intake of foods and nutrients can be excessive. As a result of a ‘feast and famine’ lifestyle, wolves need to cope with a highly variable nutrient intake requiring an adaptable metabolism, which is still functional in our modern-day dogs. The nutritive characteristics of commercial foods differ in several aspects from the dog's closest free-living ancestor in terms of dietary nutrient profile and this may pose physiological and metabolic challenges. The present study provides new insights into dog nutrition and contributes to the ongoing optimisation of foods for pet dogs.
Obesity is a major medical concern in human subjects, and most concerning is the rapid recent increase in childhood obesity. Children are more likely to be obese if their parents are obese, an effect that is mediated both by genetics and environment, most notably parental influence. Four major parenting styles have been recognised: authoritative; authoritarian; indulgent; uninvolved. Too much parental control, as with the authoritarian style, is associated with a higher weight status in children. Conversely, indulgent feeding styles can also have negative consequences and, where control is too lax, a poor relationship with food develops, which may also lead to weight gain. Obesity is also a growing concern in companion animals, and it has parallels with obesity in children. For instance, overweight people are more likely to own overweight dogs. Furthermore, the care that people provide for their pets mirrors that which parents provide for children, and pets are commonly viewed as child substitutes. These similarities raise obvious questions about whether different styles of pet ownership exist, and what part they may play in attitudes to feeding as well as predisposition to obesity in pets. Future work could focus on determining to what extent styles of pet ownership mirror parenting styles, whether there are links to obesity in dogs and cats. Knowledge regarding the owner-pet bond might provide comparative insights into the links between parenting styles and childhood obesity.
The role of dietary protein for the development of feline calcium oxalate (CaOx) uroliths has not been conclusively clarified. The present study evaluated the effects of a varying dietary protein concentration and quality on critical indices for the formation of CaOx uroliths. Three diets with a high protein quality (10–11 % greaves meal/diet) and a varying crude protein (CP) concentration (35, 44 and 57 % in DM) were compared. Additionally, the 57 % CP diet was compared with a fourth diet that had a similar CP concentration (55 % in DM), but a lower protein quality (34 % greaves meal/diet). The Ca and oxalate (Ox) concentrations were similar in all diets. A group of eight cats received the same diet at the same time. Each feeding period was divided into a 21 d adaptation period and a 7 d sampling period to collect urine. There were increases in urinary volume, urinary Ca concentrations, renal Ca and Ox excretion and urinary relative supersaturation (RSS) with CaOx with increasing dietary protein concentrations. Urinary pH ranged between 6·34 and 6·66 among all groups, with no unidirectional effect of dietary protein. Lower renal Ca excretion was observed when feeding the diet with the lower protein quality, however, the underlying mechanism needs further evaluation. In conclusion, although the observed higher urinary volume is beneficial, the increase in urinary Ca concentrations, renal Ca and Ox excretion and urinary RSS CaOx associated with a high-protein diet may be critical for the development of CaOx uroliths in cats.
The Maillard reaction can occur during processing of pet foods. During this reaction, the ε-amino group of lysine reacts with reducing sugars to become unavailable for metabolism. The aim of the present study was to determine the reactive lysine (RL; the remaining available lysine) to total lysine (TL) ratio of commercial pet foods and to evaluate whether RL levels meet minimal lysine requirements (MLR). Sixty-seven extruded, canned and pelleted commercially available dog and cat foods for growth and maintenance were analysed for proximate nutrient composition, TL and RL. RL was expressed on a metabolisable energy basis and compared with the MLR for maintenance and growth. In dog foods, average RL:TL ratios were 0·87 (se 0·02) for extruded, 0·97 (se 0·02) for canned and 0·85 (se 0·01) for pelleted foods, with the lowest ratio of 0·77 in an extruded diet for growing dogs. In extruded and canned cat foods, the average ratio was 0·91 (se 0·02) and 0·90 (se 0·03), respectively, with the lowest ratio being 0·67 in an extruded diet for growing cats. Variation in the RL:TL ratio between and within processing type indicate that ingredients rather than processing might be the key factor influencing RL content in pet foods. Eight dry foods for growing dogs had RL contents between 96 and 138 % of MLR, indicating that RL has to be between 62 and 104 % digestible to meet the MLR. Considering the variability in RL digestibility, these foods could be at risk of not meeting the MLR for growing dogs. Ingredients and pet foods should be characterised with respect to the RL content and digestibility, to avoid limitations in the lysine supply to growing dogs.
The predisposition of cats to gain weight following neutering is well established; however, there is little information about the distribution and range of post-neutering weight gains observed in cats under a controlled environment. This retrospective study investigated 6-month post-castration weight gain and distribution of percentage body weight (BW) change in a cohort of twenty, male domestic shorthair cats relative to a control group of intact cats. Cats were matched in age (2·0–2·6 years), husbandry conditions and consumed ad libitum the same dry maintenance diet for at least 3 months prior to and 6 months following castration. All cats were castrated within 48 h of each other. All cats gained weight after castration. Mean BW was 4·67 (sd 0·70) kg at the start of the study and 5·93 (sd 1·38) kg at the end of the study, with individual weight gain ranging 3–53 % at 6 months post-neutering. The pre-conception BW of the queens of each cat was compared with the pre- and post-neutering BW of their offspring. The pre-conception BW of the queens was significantly correlated with the offspring's initial BW (ρ = 0·65, P = 0·01), final BW (ρ = 0·67, P = 0·01) and percentage BW change (ρ = 0·54, P = 0·04). A wide range of post-castration weight gains was observed among cats of similar backgrounds and housing conditions. Implementation of effective methods to control food consumption pre-conception and post-neutering may be a strategy for preventing obesity and obesity-related disorders in cats.