Objective—To determine whether a colony environment predisposes healthy cats to high bacterial counts, including counts of obligate anaerobes, in the duodenum and whether increased numbers of bacteria could be found in the duodenum of cats with signs of chronic gastrointestinal tract disease.
Animals—20 healthy control cats (10 from a colony environment and 10 pet cats) and 19 cats with a history of chronic gastrointestinal tract disease.
Procedure—Undiluted duodenal fluid was quantitatively and qualitatively assessed by bacteriologic culture under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Serum concentrations of cobalamin and folate were also measured.
Results—Significant differences were not detected in the numbers of bacteria found in the duodenum of cats housed in a colony environment, compared with pet cats fed an identical diet prior to sampling. All healthy cats were, therefore, combined into 1 control group. Compared with healthy cats, cats with clinical signs of gastrointestinal tract disease had significantly lower counts of microaerophilic bacteria, whereas total, anaerobic, and aerobic bacterial counts were not significantly different. None of the cats with disease had total bacterial counts higher than expected from the range established in the control cats. Differences were not detected in regard to serum folate or cobalamin concentrations between diseased and healthy cats.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—These findings indicated that healthy colony cats and pet cats have high numbers of bacteria in the duodenum, including high numbers of obligate anaerobes. Our findings also suggest that bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine is not a common clinical syndrome in cats with chronic nonobstructive gastrointestinal tract disease. ( J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:48–51)