Frankie Versus Chris – The Microbiome Showdown


I recently received Frankie’s microbiome report from NomNomNow and thought I would compare his report to Chris’s. I wrote about Chris’s report here so if you haven’t seen it, it might be better if you look at that first. I don’t want to repeat it here but simply talk about the differences between the two reports I have so far. Floki’s report is not yet completed. As I mentioned before, I was given these test kits in exchange for an honest review.

I did not yet look at Frankie’s report except to take screen shots for this post so I will comment on each section individually as I compare the reports.

It looks like Chris scored a little better on Composition and Diversity getting 9 out of 17 and 2 out of three respectively but they both scored in the normal range. I did mention on Chris’s report that it was unclear what the numbers 17 and 3 represented but I didn’t mention that it is also unclear what the difference between composition and diversity is. I would think a good composition score means a high diversity.

Chris’s gut bacteria was dominated by one specific type, Bacteroides (73%), while Frankie’s is dominated by two types, Bacteroides (46%) and unclassified bacteria in Enterobacteriaceae family (29%). Normally I would say having two dominant bacteria is better than one but the Enterobacteriaceae family include pathogens such as Salmonella and E-coli. It also includes benign varieties as well so there is not enough evidence to make a judgement here.

Frankie scored in the low but normal range in the Firmicutes family. Chris scored higher but still relatively low.

Frankie and Chris both scored low in the Actinobacteria family. Since this bacteria is associated with weight loss, I made the comment that this might contribute to Chris’s weight gain but since Frankie is skinny I don’t know what to think.

Both Frankie’s and Chris’s level of Fusobacteria is high but there is little information about it. so there is no point in speculating about weather this is good or bad.

Frankie and Chris are both low in Prevotella and High in Bacteroides, with Chris being a little higher than Frankie in Bacteroides. Since they seem to help digest carbs and since both Chris and Frankie eat a fair amount of dry food, perhaps they are necessary. It should be noted that Frankie eats more wet food than Chris but he also tends to puke after eating wet food which then makes him eat more dry food because he is hungry.

Frankie scored a bit higher in the richness category than Chris did but they were about the same in evenness. Their overall diversity score was almost identical.

I see now that making this a competition was pointless for a couple of reasons. There is still a lot that is unknown about gut bacteria in pets and there are variables such as genetics and diet that may influence the level of benefit from each species of bacteria. If I had to pick a winner I would say that Chris’s microbiome seems slightly better than Frankie’s but they both could use improvement.

I still believe this test is useful since a lot is know about gut health and more is being learned everyday. The test also gives us a general sense of our pets overall gut health. For example, The dominance of one or two bacteria tells me I should supplement my cat’s diet with probiotics to help even that out. I mentioned before that I wanted to do that but delayed buying anything until after I sent Floki’s sample in.

I am interested to see Floki’s report. I think he eats (and keeps down) a higher percentage of wet to dry food and I wonder if that will make a difference on his report. I guess we will see.

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Photo Friday: Dynamic Trio


Here is an old photo of Flash, Tigger and Alex from January 2, 2006. Flash and Tigger lost their mother at a very young age and because of that, I assume, Tigger developed a need to suck on Flash’s belly like he was nursing. Sometimes when Tigger did that Flash would lick himself on the chest at the same time. Here, Alex joined in on the fun.

As they got older, Flash became increasingly irritated with Tigger and eventually put an end to the belly sucking.

Ginger Cat Appreciation Day


Today is Ginger Cat Appreciation Day and we have loved and appreciated all of our ginger cats, starting with Tigger who we adopted in 2005.

After Tigger we adopted Chris in 2009 and you all know how that turned out.

2014 brought us Frankie who is both affectionate and naughty, like Chris only maybe not quite at Chris’s level.

Our cat Frankie on roof

I don’t think there is a need for Ginger Cat Appreciation Day since, I am sure, all of you with ginger cats already appreciate them.

Photo Friday: Classic Princess


Since I didn’t do a post for Rainbow Bridge Remembrance day, I thought I would post a photo of Princess taken in 2003. Here she is posing with my son’s pet guinea pig, Furball.

I actually have a lot of photos of Princess and Furball. You would think her instincts would make her want to eat him but she was more fascinated by him than hungry.

Meet Finnegan


After her beloved cat, Pumpkin, died, my mother-in-law decided to open her home to another cat in need. This is Finnegan.

He is another ginger boy like Pumpkin but he is also not like Pumpkin. Just like all cats, he has his own personality.

I expected him to be shy around strangers and thought I would have to go look for him under the bed but I didn’t. Instead he came out to greet us. He is a very sociable cat but he is not a lap cat, at least not now. Perhaps when he is more comfortable he will be.

We visited twice since she adopted him. The second time I found him napping on the bed so he certainly feels right at home.

He is also not shy about blocking the doorway.

We brought him one of Floki’s mice to play with. I bought a bag of ten mice and still had a few left so we thought he might want one. He was mildly interested for about five seconds and then not so much.

Finnegan, or Finn for short, got his name because he looks like an Irish redhead. He is about three years old and was once a stray that was brought in after someone alerted the organization that he appeared injured or “beat up.” I don’t know all the details but he is far too friendly to be feral.

Another interesting thing is that he has no white on him anywhere. The tip of his tail is very light but not quite white. I don’t recall seeing a ginger cat with no white. I wonder how common that is? What do you think about Finn or about ginger cats with no white?

Unusual Cat


Chris is unique. That is why I started this blog about him. Many cats like attention but not many cats demand it as much as Chris does. And no cat that I have ever seen, other that Chris, wants to be hugged.

Maybe I’m wrong. Does your cat ever want to be hugged?

By the way, pay no attention to my disheveled hair and ugly glasses. I actually clean up nicer than that when I go out.

Chris’s Microbiome Report


Recently I was given microbiome test kits, called Insights, from the company NomNomNow in exchange for an honest review. The first test kit I sent back was for Chris and I just received his results. If you would like you can go back and read my first and second post about this subject.

As I said before, the microbiome is a collection of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live inside our gut and are essential for human and animal life. The composition and quantity of these microbes determines gut health and gut health is largely responsible for our overall health.

According to the NomNomNow website, the microbiome of humans has been studied much more intensively than that of cats and dogs. Nevertheless, I would assume that we are similar but not exactly the same.

I would like to go through this report and give you my thoughts but it is fairly long so if you need to use the bathroom, go now. I’ll wait.

Are you ready? Here we go.

When you send in the sample you can enter your pet’s description on their website and connect it with the sample number. When you get your report, it is personalized for your pet.

I must say that these first numbers are a bit unclear to me, even after reading the report. For instance, I don’t know what the number 17 represents. Chris has 9 out of 17 what? Chris has 2 out of 3 what? I suppose I should be content knowing he is in the average range but I do like specific details probably more than the average person.

This next section is the meat and potatoes of the report.

This shows that Chris has an over abundance of one type of bacteria. If we click on the green section we get more information.

According to the report, Chris has an abundance of Bacteroides, which I will discuss later. The rest of his microbiome seems relatively normal but because there are too many of one bacteria, the rest are equally diminished, with some exceptions.

The report lists the main groups of microbes followed by sub-groups. Below it talks about Firmicutes.

Chris is in the normal range for this group but at the lower end of normal for all of them.

Actinobacteria is the next group.

It says that “Increased abundances have also been associated with weight loss.” Since Chris is overweight, I wonder if his decreased amount of these bacteria is partly to blame.

Next up is Fusobacteria.

Chris’s level of this one is high although there seems to be little information about it. Wikipedia classifies it as a pathogen but that is for humans and it seems to be more related to oral health. Plus, there are different strains so there seems to be no point in speculating about this without more information.

Bacteroidetes are next and one in the group Chris has collected like a squirrel collects nuts.

The description says that “some members of this group metabolize sources of complex carbohydrates.” This may be elevated because Chris is a dry food junkie. In some ways this could be a good thing. Since Chris is so stubborn about eating his wet food, this bacteria may be necessary to help him digest the dry food, which has more carbohydrates. Of course, this is just speculation.

The last one is Proteobacteria.

No report was given for Chris on this microbe. I don’t know if that is because Chris does not have it in his system or if they don’t test for it at this time. It could also be a flaw in the reporting software. I don’t know.

I went through the bar graph at the top, one at a time, looking for Proteobacteria but couldn’t find it. That probably means it is not tested for but it does bring up a problem with the way the report is presented. The upper bars become very small and it is difficult to click on every one. I understand they want to present the information in an easy to understand way but they should also provide something like a spreadsheet that lists all the results in a format that is easy to see.

The report then shows Chris’s Microbiome Diversity.

The diversity is how many different types of bacteria are present. Generally, a diverse variety is a good thing and Chris is about average here although his evenness score is a bit off, probably because of the too many Bacteroides in his system. The good news is his overall diversity is in the normal range.

I am generally encouraged by the report but since I want the best health possible for Chris and all my cats I need to change a few things.

First, I need to somehow get Chris to eat more wet food. It’s not easy. Sometimes I have to scoop up his food in my finger and let him lick it off. This sometimes works but usually only for a few fingers full. It also falls apart when Frankie sees what I am doing and comes over to investigate.

Second, I should feed them more vegetables. Not much, though, Since cats are carnivores there natural diet would only consists of the vegetables found in the stomachs of their prey. Even so, I give them a raw meat diet that only has meat and a pre-mix supplement. I was feeding them both the raw and the NomNomNow meals which contain vegetables but stopped when they suddenly became bored with it. I might start up again and give it to them once every two or three days to keep them interested. I also started adding pumpkin to their raw food. This is a good source of fiber (as are most vegetables) and fiber feeds the good bacteria. This bacteria food is also known as a prebiotic.

Third, I plan on purchasing a probiotic that I can add to their food. I did this in the past and want to start giving it to them again. This time I think I will buy the NomNomNow brand. They seem like a good, trustworthy company and I like that their probiotics are specifically for cats or dogs, not both. I always wondered how effective a one size fits all probiotic could be.

I know it is a lot of information to digest but what do you think? Would you consider testing your pets microbiome?