The feline skin microbiota: The bacteria inhabiting the skin of healthy and allergic cats

Caitlin E. Older, Alison Diesel, Adam P. Patterson, Courtney Meason-Smith, Timothy J. Johnson, Joanne Mansell, Jan S. Suchodolski, Aline Rodrigues Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: The skin is inhabited by a multitude of microorganisms. An imbalance of these microorganisms is associated with disease, however, the causal relationship between skin microbiota and disease remains unknown. To describe the cutaneous bacterial microbiota of cats and determine whether bacterial dysbiosis occurs on the skin of allergic cats, the skin surfaces on various regions of 11 healthy cats and 10 allergic cats were sampled. Methodology/Principal findings: Genomic DNA was extracted from skin swabs and sequenced using primers that target the V4 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA. The bacterial sequences from healthy cats revealed that there are differences in species diversity and richness between body sites and different epithelial surfaces. Bacterial communities preferred body site niches in the healthy cats, however, the bacterial communities on allergic cat skin tended to be more unique to the individual cat. Overall, the number of bacterial species was not significantly different between the two health status groups, however, the abundances of these bacterial species were different between healthy and allergic skin. Staphylococcus, in addition to other taxa, was more abundant on allergic skin. Conclusions/Significance: This study reveals that there are more bacterial species inhabiting the skin of cats than previously thought and provide some evidence of an association between dysbiosis and skin disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0178555
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Winn Feline Foundation ( under grant ID MT14-018. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Older et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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