Tuesday, 19 May 2015


A couple of years back I blogged about crowdfunding of science (and games). Yesterday, I came across a scientific project on kickstarter which I felt I had to support- Kittybiome! The microbiome is the collection of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that live in us and on us, and there is increasing evidence that these microbial communities play important roles in our health. Thus, Kittybiome aims to use modern DNA sequencing technologies to characterise the microbial communities that live on and in cats.

The combination of silly and serious questions Kittybiome seeks to address include-
  • How do grumpy cats compare to happy cats?
  • How do athletic cats compare to couch potato cats?
  • Does it matter if you feed your cat a paleo-mouse diet?
  • How do indoor and outdoor cats compare? 
  • What happens when your cat goes on antibiotics? 
  • How does the microbiome change during your cat's nine lives?

I would like to add the question- how do different cat breeds compare in terms of their microbiome?

I would have been happy to support at a level that allowed sequencing of the microbiomes of my cats Lyra and Chihiro, but sadly that was only an option if you live in the US or Europe. Since I live in the scientific third world, I can only support the sequencing of the microbiome of a shelter cat. Still it looks like Kittybiome is a kickstarter success as it is already over-subscribed with 22 days still to go. Go Kittybiome!

(Full disclosure- Kittybiome is co-founded by my friend and colleague Jonathan Eisen)

Lyra and Chihiro want to know why Australian cats are discriminated against by Kittybiome


  1. Thanks for the nice post, Ian! You might also be interested in Jonathan's student, Katie's study on koalas: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-koala-project#/story In terms of our ongoing discrimination against Australian kitties, we are still researching our ability to import cat poop from different countries and will get back to you.

  2. Australian kitty poop samples are welcome (and encouraged!) so long as you are willing to fill out the customs forms as follows: 1. identify the material as feline, 2. provide a written declaration indicating the material does not contain any other animal derived material (ie. from livestock or poultry) and 3. provide a written declaration stating the material was NOT derived from cats who were inoculated with or exposed to any infectious agents of agricultural concern