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Smaller meals more times per day may curb obesity in cats
Date:2/20/2014

URBANA, Ill. Just as with people, feline obesity is most often linked to excessive food intake or not enough physical activity. Attempts to cut back on calories alone often result in failed weight loss or weight regain in both people and their pets.

So how do you encourage your cat to get more exercise?

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 waterneither method involved decreasing the overall amount of daily food intakedid 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.

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 kibb
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Contact: Kelly Swanson
ksswanso@illinois.edu
217-333-4189
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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