Do you often feed your cat more than once a day? If so, you may inadvertently endanger your cat’s health, at least according to a new study from the Ontario Veterinary College and the Agricultural College at the University of Guelph. Since humans eat more than once a day, it may seem natural to feed the pet several times a day as well. However, this could sabotage your cat’s amino acid levels and appetite hormones.
The research comes from animal nutritionists studying the effects of feeding a cat one large meal a day instead of several smaller meals and treats throughout the day. The results were favorable, according to the study, which found that one meal a day resulted in a decrease in appetite and less begging for food than cats fed several times a day.
As a result of the increase in satisfaction and the decrease in food begging, cats may be at lower risk of developing obesity, protecting them from diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The researchers explain that obesity remains the number one nutritional problem affecting domestic cats, but is easy to fix with a change in diet.
The study was relatively small and included eight domestic cats under the age of five who had normal, healthy body weights. The cats initially received one meal a day for three weeks, then the same amount of food was divided into four meals a day. Using activity monitors, the study found that, among other things, the cats were the same body weight.
However, cats given one meal a day had increased levels of amino acids in their blood, suggesting that this feeding protocol can help them maintain muscle mass.
The feeding protocol, according to the researchers, is essentially a form of intermittent fasting that has also been linked to reductions in obesity and increases in health profiles in humans. Regular fasting is especially useful because there are many readily available high calorie foods and many people engage in sedentary activities, which drastically reduces activity in their weekly schedules.