A new research from the University of Illinois has revealed how smaller meals per day could help curb obesity in cats.
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.
During the two-part study, the researchers evaluated the activity of the cats between meals using activity collar monitors. In the first experiment, the cats were divided among four rooms and were given dry kibble meals four times per day, two times per day, one time per day, and in the fourth room, were fed a random number of meals per day.
The overall amount of food fed to each cat in each room per day was the same; feeding frequency varied.
In the second experiment, the cats were divided among two rooms and were fed twice per day with a 70 percent hydrated diet, using similar amounts of dry kibble used in the first experiment to maintain body weight. Water was added to the kibble an hour before each meal time, Swanson explained.
The cats were placed in their individual cages only during mealtimes so that the researchers could accurately monitor their food intake. During the activity monitoring times, the cats had limited interaction with people.
The researchers evaluated the cats' food anticipatory activity (FAA), which included the activity of each cat two hours before meals were given. During the dry kibble experiment, they noticed that the cats were much more active during those anticipatory times, especially those fed four meals per day and those given meals at random times.