Project Update & Call for FIV-Positive Cats

With the support of our Kickstarter backers, we’ve been able to collect samples from more than a hundred shelter cats in the Bay Area, many from Berkeley Animal Care Services. One comparison that we’re particularly interested in is how the gut microbiomes differ between shelter and house cats. Coming to an animal shelter is unfortunately quite stressful for some cats, and being subject to prolonged periods of stress can certainly affect the microbiome. We expect there to be some major differences in the microbiomes of shelter cats when compared to house cats who have had ample time to acclimate to a stable environment.
In addition to collecting samples from shelter cats who will be adopted into homes, we’ve been taking samples from feral cats. A Bay Area nonprofit, the Spay Neuter Impact Program (SNIP), traps, neuters, and vaccinates feral cats, then re-releases them. The group neuters hundreds of feral cats each year to help control the local populations, and we were able to collect samples while the cats were anesthetized for surgery.
As we’ve worked with these organizations, we’ve become increasingly interested in looking at the microbiomes of cats with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). The virus is related to HIV, but cannot be transmitted between species. FIV-positive cats can sometimes progress to having Feline AIDS, making them more vulnerable to secondary infection. Often, however, these cats live long, healthy lives comparable in span to a cat without FIV.
The Nine Lives Foundation has provided us with several samples from FIV-positive shelter cats, but in order to draw some more concrete comparisons, we’re looking to get samples from homes that have at least one FIV-positive cat and one FIV-negative cat. KittyBiome will sequence the microbiomes of both kitties for free. If you or someone you know has cats that meet these requirements, please reach out to us!

Rusty, an FIV-positive cat available for adoption through the Nine Lives Foundation, helps us collect samples for analysis.

Rusty, an FIV-positive cat available for adoption through the Nine Lives Foundation, helps us collect samples for analysis.

Categories: FIV, shelter cats, Uncategorized

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