The types of helicobacter which are found in the stomachs of carnivorous pets, especially cats, have been traditionally referred to as 'gastric helicobacter-like organisms' (GHLOs). These are microaerophilic, Gram-negative, spiral bacteria with multiple terminal flagellae and are endowed with high-level urease activity which allows them to survive in an acidic environment. Certain species have one or more periplasmic fibrils. The two GHLOs most commonly found in cats are Helicobacter felis and a species related to H heilmannii which was recently cultured from dogs. All phenotypic and genotypic (16S RNA gene sequences) evidence suggests that both of these bacteria belong in the genus Helicobacter. Whether or not helicobacters can be transmitted to humans from carnivorous pets is controversial but the recent discovery of H pylori-infected cats may be evidence of an animal reservoir for this pathogen. Although the role of H pylori in inducing antral gastritis and perpetuating pyloric ulcers in humans is well established, whether or not Helicobacter spp are causally involved in any feline gastric inflammatory conditions is unknown.