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Lil Bub, internet-famous cat celebrity, lent her poop to a Seattle startup to fuel the discovery of new kinds of bacteria. (Photo courtesy of Lil Bub, @iamlilbub on Instagram)

Grab your litter scoopers, folks — there might just be valuable scientific data in your cat’s poop.

That was certainly the case for Lil Bub, one of the original internet cat celebrities. These days, Bub is using her fame to further a huge host of causes, including learning more about the bacteria floating around inside animal’s digestive systems.

Phase Genomics, a Seattle-based biotechnology startup, teamed up with Bub and organizations AnimalBiome and KittyBiome to study cats’ microbiome, the name for all the bacteria that lives inside an animal’s gut.

The collaboration led to the discovery of 22 new kinds of bacteria, 13 from Lil Bub and nine from Danny, the cat of microbiome scientist Jennifer Gardy.

Lil Bub, left, and Danny, right, helped researchers identify 22 new kinds of bacteria. (Photo courtesy of Phase Genomics)

“Most of the new species we identified belong to the same order of bacteria that’s responsible for colitis, gangrene, and tetanus,” Phase Genomics CEO and Co-founder Dr. Ivan Liachko said in a press release. “But inside an animal’s microbial ecosystem they may play a significant role in the health of the animal. To further our understanding, we’ll continue to build out a comprehensive database of gut microbiomes of diverse animals, including humans. This is just the beginning.”

The discovery will help researchers understand which bacteria live inside the guts of healthy animals (Bub was born with a number of genetic defects that give her that signature cute look, but otherwise she’s healthy).

The data will pave the way towards understanding diseases like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and many other health problems, in both cats and humans, that are likely associated with the microbiome.

Researchers are still gathering samples, so if you want your pet’s poop to contribute to science, check out how to get involved. Or just follow Lil Bub on Instagram.

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