Researchers from the University of Illinois interested in finding a method to maintain healthy body weight in cats, looked at a previously suggested claim that increased meal frequency could help to increase overall physical activity.
The idea is to feed cats the appropriate amount of food needed to maintain a healthy body weight, but to offer it in more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day.
Animal sciences researcher Kelly Swanson and his lab at U of I determined that both increasing the frequency of meals fed per day, as well as offering meals that contained added dietary water—neither method involved decreasing the overall amount of daily food intake—did promote more physical activity among the cats in the study.
“It all comes down to energy in and energy out. It’s very simple on paper, but it’s not that easy in real life, especially in a household where there is more than one pet. That can be difficult, but I think these two strategies are very practical ideas that people can use,” Swanson said.
“I think veterinarians will be interested in this information because it gives them evidence to be able to recommend something to pet owners that could help with feline obesity and diabetes,” Swanson said. “When cats are allowed to feed ad libitum, it’s difficult to prevent obesity. It is important to identify the right diet. Many owners are accustomed to dumping a pile of food out for multiple cats, just once per day.