Nutritional studies reveal cat characteristics

Cats are unique and complex creatures. Researchers are constantly conducting studies to learn more about felines. Professionals shared the results of some of those studies on September 24, 2021 at the Pet Food Forum in Kansas City.

aging domestic cat; lifelong study

Like humans, pet cats and dogs live longer.

Emma Birmingham of AgResearch Ltd. “It is not uncommon for cats to live to 17 years of age, and similar lifespans apply to smaller dogs.” Care.”

Birmingham presented her research from a lifelong study of aging in a domestic cat. And the increased lifespan of pets does not come with risks — more frequent health problems including obesity, sarcopenia and diabetes, she said. Over 40% of pets are now considered obese.

The Birmingham study looked at the effects of diet on a cat’s microbiome to understand if there were any long-term effects on a cat’s health. The study compared commercial cat food – a high-quality extruded food versus a canned product.

The study revealed a trend that cats fed canned cat food, starting at one year of age, maintain a heavier body weight than those fed canned cat food. This is partly because cats that are fed extruded diets start at age 7 and stop losing/gaining weight based on seasonal changes. Birmingham said the study suggests that older cats may be less able to tolerate high levels of extra energy or dietary carbohydrates.

In cats fed extruded diets, protein digestibility increases after one year of age and then remains constant. In cats fed a canned diet, digestibility is more consistent throughout the cat’s life.

“In summary, we’ve noticed a number of changes in the cat as they age, and diet certainly plays a role,” Birmingham said. “It seems like eight years of age is when a cat undergoes a physiological change.”

The enjoyment of feeding cats teaches them to prefer food ingredients

AFB International conducted a study to better understand how the individual components of an entire meal affect their eating pleasure in cats, and a follow-up study to determine whether cats prefer licking their meals. Chris Wildman, Senior Team Manager for Custom Engagement, presented the results.

“The enjoyment of eating provides an individual dimension of palatability performance and can guide product improvements as well as help us understand the pleasurable eating experience of cats,” Wildman said.

It has been observed that cats lick the broth but leave small bits behind. AFB studied why cats choose broth over chops, given the initial attraction and continued interest. The study revealed that anything with broth was preferred and sustainable. The pieces looked attractive, and would likely have been approached first, but they didn’t maintain interest.

A follow-up study revealed that the cats consumed slightly more of the blended forms of food rather than the original forms because they were easier to eat. But the original forms had more cats’ attention than blended ones, and much of that consisted of licking the broth.

Potential Benefits of Choline Supplementation for Cats

Alexandra Rankowicz, a doctoral student at the University of Guelph, said obesity is a huge problem for pets. About 60% of American cats are overweight. Feline hepatic steatosis is the most common liver disease in North American cats, often caused by a loss of appetite.

Choline is an essential nutrient found in eggs, wheat germ, soybean meals, and organ meats. It can also be a supplement in pet foods.

Currently published requirements for choline intake range from 2,040 to 2,550 mg/kg DM. Animals at risk for choline deficiency include those on a non-traditional/homemade diet, restricted diets, those that are obese or undergoing weight loss and animals that are growing.

Rankowicz and colleagues conducted three studies related to choline. The first study looked at supplementing with additional choline five times above the required range for obese cats. Research has revealed that supplementing with additional choline for obese cats may help eliminate liver fat and increase the breakdown and mobilization of fats.

The second study looked at supplementing choline to cats after neutering, when fed free for 12 weeks. Choline reduces food intake and body weight and increases fat mass in growing cats. Choline above the minimum required level may help reduce the risk of obesity in neutered cats.

The third study examined the response to choline doses in overweight cats. The aim of the study was to determine the minimum effective dose of choline to enhance fat utilization in overweight cats. Study results indicate that dietary choline with six and eight times the requirement in overweight cats may increase fat transport in the liver, improve liver health and function and improve amino acid balance.


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