Do you often feed your cat more than one time per day? If so, you may be unwittingly putting your cat’s health at risk, at least according to a new study from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College and Agricultural College. Because humans eat more than one time a day, it may seem natural to feed one’s pet multiple a day, as well, but that could be sabotaging your cat’s amino acid levels and appetite hormones.
The research comes from animal nutrition specialists who evaluated the effects of feeding a cat one large meal a day instead of multiple 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, as well as less begging for food compared to cats fed multiple times daily.
As a result of the increase in satisfaction and decrease in food begging, the cats may be at a lowered risk of developing obesity, which will help protect them from diabetes and other conditions associated with metabolic dysfunction. The researchers explain that obesity remains the number one nutritional issue that impacts pet cats, but it is easy to fix with diet modification.
The study was fairly small, involving eight indoor cats under the age of five who were normal, healthy bodyweights. The cats were first fed one meal a day for three weeks, then the same amount of food spread out over four meals per day. Using activity monitors, the study found that, among other things, the cats maintained the same body weight.
However, cats fed one meal per day experienced a boost in blood amino acid levels, evidence that this feeding protocol may help them maintain muscle mass.
The feeding protocol is essentially a form of intermittent fasting, the researchers note, which has also been linked to decreased obesity and increased health profiles in humans. Regularly fasting is particularly useful given the abundance of readily-available high-calorie foods and the number of people who work sedentary jobs, which drastically reduces the amount of activity in their weekly schedules.