Categories: Weight

Overprescribing Antibiotics to Domestic Cats Can Lead to Obesity?

I have asked a question in the title to this article but it’s one founded on good research and information. I do not know of any other person who has raised this question. I think it is a valid question because domestic cat obesity is a major discussion point in the West. There is an increase in domestic cat obesity which is also linked to a increase in feline diabetes (and dry cat food some say).

In the past I have discussed the subject of “faecal transplants“. This is replacing the gut bacteria by transplanting faeces from another animal into the animal being treated. It is now quite commonplace in treating humans. It is proving highly successful.

In 2006 a study showed that the gut bacteria in fat and thin mice was dramatically different. It was also found that if you gave a thin mouse the gut bacteria of a fat human, the mouse got fatter even though it was on the same diet as before.

The bacteria in our gut is proving to be far more important than we ever imagined. One aspect of a modern concept in medicine is that we need to ensure that we have the maximum amount of microbial diversity in and on us. Over-washing can reduce the microbial diversity on us and research indicates that the over prescription of antibiotics to children can result in the child in adult life be more prone to becoming obese.

Cat obesity trends

This is because it is believed that antibiotics kill off anti-obesity bacteria in the gut. This is on top of the fact that it is now also believed that people in the West have a depleted micro-biome. It is said that it was easier to be slim in 1980s than it is today even if the calorie intake and outtake is the same. One line of thought on this is that is due to the depletion of our micro-biome.

The early years appear to be the most important for gut flora. In an earlier article I had mentioned the possible over-prescription of antibiotics to domestic cats. This occurs in my opinion because veterinarians use antibiotics as a precautionary treatment, just to play safe. They are not given as an essential treatment on every occasion. This is due to the fact that veterinarians sometimes find it difficult to diagnose illnesses caused either by a virus or a bacterial infection. They therefore play safe and treat a possible bacterial infection. Also vets may be following the trend of doctors to over-prescribe antibiotics. Cat owners demand that the vet does something and in the brief time he has with his patient he decides to prescribe a course of antibiotics.

It is my contention that this may be having a negative impact upon the cat’s health in respect of obesity for the reasons mentioned, namely that it may be that antibiotics kill off bacteria in the cat’s gut which helps to govern the weight of the cat.

As an aside, also in earlier articles I have written about the discussion as to whether a cat sleeping with baby is good or bad for the baby in respect of building up the baby’s immune system. Wide-ranging research from Sweden concluded that children who grow up with a pet dog in the family home have a lower risk of developing asthma. Children who live with the dog in the family since the first year of life have a 50% reduced risk of developing asthma by the time they attend school.

Importantly the same research indicated that for children living close to farm animals there is a 52% risk reduction in developing asthma. In other words a close association with animals during the early life of a person has the potential to improve that person’s health throughout adulthood. Although the research concerned dogs and farm animals this strongly suggests that the same benefits could be found when living with domestic cats.

As a further aside, recent research also indicates that consuming as little as two glasses of sweetened drinks a day is linked to an increased risk of heart failure. This prompts me to question whether the high sugar content in dry cat food has a similar impact upon the health of domestic cats.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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