New research from Canada has found that feeding indoor cats one large meal a day may help control hunger better than feeding them several times a day.
The research by animal nutrition specialists in U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) and Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), and published in PLOS One, revealed that cats that ate one meal a day were more satisfied, which could result in less food-begging behaviour.
The results also suggest cutting back feeding frequency could help reduce the risk of obesity by controlling cats’ appetite and potentially making them eat less—an important discovery given that obesity is the most common nutritional problem affecting cats.
“These findings may surprise the veterinary community and many cat owners who have been told their animals need several small meals a day,” study co-author Professor Adronie Verbrugghe said.
“But these results suggest there are benefits to this approach.”
Previous research has examined the effects of meal frequency on cat behaviour, but this study is the first to use a comprehensive approach analysing effects on appetite-suppressing hormones, physical activity, energy expenditure and use of energy sources.
“There was no good research to back up the several-meals-a-day approach that many owners hear, and so we wanted to put some real data behind current feeding recommendations to be sure they were right for cats,” co-author Professor Kate Shoveller said.
“Physiologically, it makes sense that feeding only once a day would have benefits,” Professor Shoveller added. “When you look at human research, there’s pretty consistent evidence that there are positive health outcomes with intermittent fasting and improved satiety.”