Effects of cat ownership on the gut microbiota of owners
Jun 22, 2021 5 mins, 38 secs
This study’s primary objectives were to explore the effects of cat ownership on the gut microbial diversity and composition of owners.

OTU number showed significant alteration in the Cat group and Female_cat group, compared with that of the no cat (NC) group and Female_ NC group, respectively.

Compared with the NC group, the microbial phylum Proteobacteria was significantly decreased in the Cat group.

The microbial families Alcaligenaceae and Pasteurellaceae were significantly reduced, while Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonadaceae were significantly increased in the Cat group.

Fifty metabolic pathways were predicted to be significantly changed in the Cat group.

Twenty-one and 13 metabolic pathways were predicted to be significantly changed in the female_cat and male_cat groups, respectively.

Moreover, the microbial phylum Cyanobacteria was significantly decreased, while the families Alcaligenaceae, Pseudomonadaceae and Enterobacteriaceae were significantly changed in the normal weight cat group.

In addition, 41 and 7 metabolic pathways were predicted to be significantly changed in the normal-weight cat and overweight cat groups, respectively.

Therefore, this study demonstrated that cat ownership could influence owners’ gut microbiota composition and function, especially in the female group and normal-weight group.

Therefore, we analyzed the gut microbiota of individuals with cats and compared the results with those for individuals without cats.

This study attempted to determine the influence of cat ownership on gut microbial diversity and composition in different groups of individuals and to identify the bacterial phyla and families that were significantly affected.

Through self-reporting, we found 214 individuals who claimed that they owned cats but no other pet (Cat group), while 214 individuals who did not own a pet were matched with the Cat group by gender, body mass index (BMI), and age (no cat (NC) group) (S1 Table).

The α-diversity analysis, which could reflect the abundance and diversity of the microbial community, showed that the OTU number was significantly decreased, while the Shannon index (Shannon value was positively correlated with community diversity) was not significantly altered in the cat group compared with the NC group (Fig 1A and 1B).

At the phylum level, Proteobacteria were significantly induced by cat ownership (Fig 1C).

At the family level, the relative abundances of Alcaligenaceae and Pasteurellaceae were significantly reduced, while those of Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonadaceae were significantly increased (Fig 1D).

Cat ownership did not affect the (A) number of OTUs or the (B) Shannon index.

In addition, 50 metabolic pathways were predicted to be significantly changed (P<0.05), which showed increased metabolism of amino acids, nucleotides, biological oxidation carbohydrates, vitamins and lipids (Fig 2).

The degradation of L-arginine, L-ornithine, and L-threonine was significantly increased.

The degradation of galactarate and glucarate was significantly increased, and the tricarboxylic acid cycle was significantly increased.

The significant effect of cat ownership on microbial metabolism pathways.

The α-diversity analysis showed that the OTU number and the Shannon index were significantly altered in the female_Cat group (Fig 3A and 3B).

However, at the phylum level, almost no microbes were significantly changed in the female_Cat and Male_Cat groups (Fig 3C).

At the family level, the relative abundance of Oxalobacteraceae was significantly increased, while Pseudomonadaceae was significantly decreased in the female_cat group compared with the female_NC group.

Alcaligenaceae and Peptostreptococcaceae were significantly decreased in the Male_Cat group compared with the Male_NC group (Fig 3D).

Cat ownership did not affect the (A) number of OTUs or the (B) Shannon index.

In addition, 21 and 13 metabolic pathways were predicted to be significantly changed in the female_cat and male_cat groups, respectively (P<0.05) (Fig 4).

In the female_cat group, the metabolism of amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and lipids was significantly increased.

In the male_cat group, the metabolism of amino acids, biological oxidation and carbohydrates were significantly increased.

The significant effect of cat ownership on microbial metabolism pathways in (A) female and (B) male individuals.

The α-diversity analysis showed that the OTU number and the Shannon index were not significantly altered in the NW and OW groups (Fig 5A and 5B).

Moreover, at the phylum level, the relative abundance of Cyanobacteria was significantly decreased in the NW_cat group (Fig 5C).

At the family level, the relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae was significantly increased, while that of Alcaligenaceae and Pseudomonadaceae were significantly decreased in the female_cat group compared with the female_NC group (Fig 5D).

Cat ownership did not affect the (A) number of OTUs or the (B) Shannon index.

In addition, 41 and 7 metabolic pathways were predicted to be significantly changed in the NW_cat and OW_cat groups, respectively (P<0.05) (Fig 6).

In the NW_cat group, the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids was significantly increased, while the metabolism of cell walls, amino acids and nucleotides was significantly decreased?

In the OW_cat group, the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids was significantly increased.

The significant effect of cat ownership on microbial metabolism pathways, (A) normal-weight and (B) overweight individuals.

This study showed that cat ownership significantly affects the gut microbiota, especially in female and NW individuals?

The present study showed that cat ownership affects not only microbial α-diversity but also the abundance of Proteobacteria, Alcaligenaceae, Pasteurellaceae, Enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonadaceae.

The α-diverstiy were significantly affected, while more metabolic pathways were predicted to be significantly changed in the female_cat group than in the male_cat group

In Female_OW group, the OTU number and Shannon index was significantly decreased in the Cat group compared with the NC group

The α-diversity analysis showed that the OTU number and the Shannon index were significantly decreased in the female_Cat group (S3 Table)

The present study showed that the phylum Cyanobacteria was significantly reduced, while the families Enterobacteriaceae, Alcaligenaceae and Pseudomadaceae were significantly affected in the NW_cat group

Moreover, 41 metabolic pathways were predicted to be significantly changed in the NW_cat group, which was far more than that in the OW_cat group

As shown in S5 Table, the α-diversity analysis showed that the OTU number was significantly decreased in the NW_Cat group

Moreover, at the phylum level, the relative abundance of Cyanobacteria was significantly decreased in the NW_cat group

Functional predictions indicated that cat ownership would lead to increased synthesis of B vitamins, amino acids and carbohydrate metabolism

Moreover, SCFA-related pathways (4-hydroxyphenylacetate degradation, TCA cycle VII (acetate producers), and glycerol degradation to butanol) were significantly increased

The main microbial phyla in cats were Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Fusobacteria, and Actinobacteria [43]

The prominent microbial families in cats were Prevotellaceae, Peptostreptococcaceae, Veillonellaceae, Lachnospiraceae, Clostridiales, and Erysipelotrichaceae [44]

Therefore, ownership of cats affects the human gut microbiota in multiple ways, such as contact with the flora on the cat’s hair and the impact of pet companionship on the spirit, worthy of further study

In addition, the diet of individuals with cats and without cats was not significantly different (Table 1 and S6 Table)

In addition, multiple microbial metabolic pathways were affected by cat ownership


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