Our cat has come a long long way, in a mere two years. The first few pictures my husband sent of hers, were mostly IV tubes in a barely visible sick cat. Now, it’s just a lot of fat on the cat. But despite the fat, she is a moody eater, sometimes finishing off plates of dry food in hours, and sometimes sticking her nose up in the air and ignoring it. In such moments she loves canned wet food. And she’s not alone in her likings, my husband enjoys it too. Yes, I’m sure he’s tasted it.
To complement her ravenous appetite, she has two large litter trays, loaded with very expensive litter. But she ejects out poo that is as long as her forelimbs, several times a day, filling up the trays faster than we can clean it.
For some researchers, this poo is good. In a study published in Microbiology Open early this year, a team of scientists got together 16 domestic cats, alternated their diets between dry and wet food, and then tested their feces for bacteria. What they hoped to understand was whether short term changes in the diets of the cats could change bacterial populations in their digestive tracts. And one way to get inside the cats was to get into the undigested food they ejected out.
The researchers first fed the cats dry food for 5 weeks, and then wet food for another 5 weeks. At the end of each 5-week eating regimen, their excrements were collected, tested and analysed. The team found similar kinds of bacteria in both cases, but different amounts of each bacterium. So while wet food diet increased some types of bacteria in the cats, dry food reduced them and increased others. This was a rather “dramatic shift in fecal bacterial communities”, the researchers write.
So what? Domestic cats, like city children are becoming more obese with each passing day. In humans and rodents, intestinal bacterial populations have been incriminated against in the obesity blame game. Could the type of diet, wet or dry, have serious implications on the health of our beloved cats too? The researchers don’t know yet.
But, for now, it definitely doesn’t matter to my cat. She just upturned her packet of dry food.