There is an interesting research paper published on the Science Daily website dated March 9, 2021 which I think is worth mentioning. I think this research may result in better cat food in the future. You can read quite a lot about human milk oligosaccharides which are ingredients of human breast milk and the third most abundant component of milk after lactose and lipids.
But the advantages of milk oligosaccharides are not confined to humans. This research concluded that milk oligosaccharides may be beneficial to cats when added to their diet as a supplement. The research provided data which helps people to understand how prebiotics “[help to] promote cat immunity and establish a healthy gut microbial community early in life”.
The breastmilk of a cat nursing her offspring is more complex and balanced than the milk of dogs. The researchers say that it is made up of approximately 15 structures making up 90% of total oligosaccharides. Before the research was conducted the pet food industry was beginning to recognise the potential benefits of these compounds as supplements in commercially manufactured pet foods.
For example, in 2019 a Swiss biotech company, Gnubiotics Sciences announced an animal milk oligosaccharide-like product which they labelled GNU100. The researchers looked at this.
They looked at the safety palatability and digestibility of this product in cats and dogs. No toxic effects were found and as a result it satisfies the basic FDA requirements as a food ingredient.
They included 1% of GNU100 into a fat source and coated that on to what appears to be dry cat food (and dog food). As a control they provided the animals with food that was uncoated with this product.
They were surprised to find that the cats “ate nearly 18 times more food with GNU100 than the control food. They had been hoping that they wouldn’t reject it but the cats loved it. Comment: but if they love it so much that they eat 18 times the amount they normally eat, is this a good idea bearing in mind the obesity crisis amongst companion cat!?
I’m being a bit flippant but dry cat food can be addictive even without this special ingredient. They carried out more research with foods containing this ingredient in experimental diets for six months and evaluated changes in gut metabolites and the gut microbial community including other measures.
They say that both cats and dogs did well and there were no adverse health effects. They saw shifts “in the gut microbe biome toward more beneficial species and their metabolite profiles”. Comment: this basically means that the gut bacteria was improved by eating GNU100. When you have good gut bacteria your digestion is better and you are generally healthier. You also poop better! I am using basic layman’s language because the science reports are often too technical.
They believe that this product should stabilise and promote good bacteria in the gut and limit the growth of undesirable bacteria. They are going to do more research but I think we can expect prebiotic milk oligosaccharides to be part of domestic cat commercial food ingredients in the future.
The research is published here.