The impact of a weight loss plan on the fecal microbiome in obesecats

Objective

To evaluate the effects of a weight loss program on the fecal microbiome in domestic cats and assess the relationship with biochemical indices and weight loss.

Background

Obesity in cats is a worldwide epidemic problem. More than 50% of cats is currently overweight or obese. Obesity has detrimental effects on feline health and it reduces longevity and quality of life. Obesity is accompanied by a low-grade inflammation. This inflammation originates from the adipose tissue, which acts as an endocrine organ secreting inflammatory mediators, but also from the gastro-intestinal tract and its microbiota. Obesity increases gut permeability, allowing the entrance of bacterial toxins, resulting in local and systemic inflammation. "Obese microbiome" has a considerable influence on energy metabolism and fat storage in the host and obesity influences the number and the type of gastrointestinal bacteria. There have been previous studies meant to assess normal microbiome in the cat, however, no research was conducted to compare the difference in microbiome between obese and lean cats.

Incentives

Control cats (lean): The cats in the control group of the study will benefit from a physical examination, complete blood count and biochemistry. As an incentive, the study will cover the cost of the blood work done at the initial appointment. An individualized weight maintenance plan including diet calculations, and biweekly weigh-ins will be provided at no costs. Furthermore, dry cat food will be provided for the duration of the study.

Obese cats: The study will cover the cost of the blood work (complete blood count and biochemistry) done at the initial appointment. An individualized weight loss plan including diet calculations, tips to increase physical activity and biweekly weigh-ins will be provided at no costs. Furthermore, a dry weight loss diet for cats will be provided for the duration of the study.

As explained previously obesity can be detrimental for cats. Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases in cats, such as diabetes mellitus, orthopedic diseases, respiratory and urinary tract diseases. Therefore, the weight loss itself is an important benefit of this study.

If a cat has not reached his/her ideal body weight at the end of the 14-week study, the weight loss plan may be continued, yet from then on all food and follow up visits will be at the expense of the owner.

Inclusion Criteria (control & obese cats)

  • Healthy, obese cat (body condition score > 8/9)
  • Aged 2-7 years
  • Can be fed separately from other pets
  • Likes to eat dry food

Inclusion Criteria for control group (lean cats)

  • Healthy, lean cat (body condition score 4-5/9)
  • Aged 2-7 years
  • Can be fed separately from other pets
  • Likes to eat dry food

Exclusion Criteria (control & obese cats)

  • Outdoor cat
  • Presence of clinical signs of a systemic disease
  • Presence of abnormalities on blood work (complete blood count or biochemical profile)
  • Received medications (antimicrobials, anti-inflammatories) 90 days prior to enrolment

Before Enrollment (control & obese cats)

Owners will bring the cat for an initial appointment which will include:

  • Complete a dietary questionnaire prior to appointment
  • Physical exam
  • Evaluation of body weight and body condition
  • Blood collection for complete blood count and biochemical panel, to assess if the cat is healthy

Control cats - Once the results of the blood tests are available, and the cat is found healthy, a follow up appointment will be scheduled with the owner (without the cat) so the researchers can provide cat food and further instructions for the 4-week food trial.

Obese cats - Once the results of the blood tests are available, and the cat is found healthy (except for being obese), a follow up appointment will be scheduled with the owner (without the cat) so the researchers can provide cat food and further instructions for the adaptation period.

Food Trial (control cats)

  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Food: Hill's Prescription Diets Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution dry food
  • Daily amounts: calculated maintain a stable body weight

Owners will weigh the amount of food offered and leftovers every day using a gram scale (available for owners for the duration of the study) and keep record in a food log (form will be provided).

2nd appointment with the cat scheduled at week 2 of the food trial:

  • Evaluation of body weight and body condition

3rd appointment with the cat scheduled at week 4 of the food trial:

  • Physical exam
  • Evaluation of body weight and body condition
  • Blood collection
  • Owner will collect and bring a fresh feces sample

Adaptation Period (obese cats)

Once the food is provided, the cat will start the adaptation period:

.  Duration: 4 weeks

.  Food: Hill's Prescription Diets Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution dry food

.  Daily amounts: calculated for weight maintenance (no weight loss)

Owners will weigh the amount of food offered and leftovers every day using a gram scale (available for owners for the duration of the study) and keep record in a food log (form will be provided).

2nd appointment with the cat scheduled at week 2 of the adaptation period:

  • Evaluation of body weight and body condition

3rd appointment with the cat scheduled at week 4 of the adaptation period:

  • Physical exam
  • Evaluation of body weight and body condition
  • Blood collection
  • Owner will collect and bring a fresh feces sample
  • Researchers to provide cat food for the weight loss program

Weight loss program (obese cats)

The actual weight loss program will begin after finishing the 4-week adaptation period:

  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Food: Hill's Prescription Diets Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution dry food
  • Daily amounts: calculated for weight loss

Owners will weigh the amount of food offered and leftovers every day using a gram scale and keep record in a food log.

Four appointments with the cat will be scheduled every two weeks throughout the 10-week weight loss program (week 2, week 4, week 6 and week 8):

  • Evaluation of body weight and body condition
  • Owner will collect a fresh feces sample.
  • House visits can be arranged at these times, if travel to the OVC is inconvenient.

8th appointment with the cats scheduled at week 10 of the weight loss program:

  • Physical exam
  • Evaluation of body weight and body condition
  • Blood collection
  • Owners will collect and bring a fresh feces sample

Researcher

Principal Investigator: Dr. Adronie Verbrugghe DVM, PhD, Dip ECVCN, Assistant Professor

Dr. Moran Tal Gavriel, DVM, DVSc candidate in Clinical Nutrition

Contact

Dr. Moran Tal Gavriel, DVM
DVSc candidate in Clinical Nutrition
Email: mtalgavr@uoguelph.ca; Phone no.: (226) 924-5935

Vicky Sabine, PhD
Clinical Research Coordinator
Email: vsabine@uoguelph.ca; Work Cell #: 226-218-0338


Funded by a Hill's Pet Nutrition Clinical Study Grant and by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).