Cats self-regulate diet to obtain consistent nutrient balance

Cats are able to select their foods in wet and dry combinations and in different amounts in order to achieve a consistent intake of protein, carbohydrates and fats, according to new research.

The felines regulated their own nutrient intake despite the altered combinations of wet and dry foods provided, according to a study by researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia, the Institute of Natural Sciences at Massey University in New Zealand along with the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology B.

“This research has important implications for owners as it shows that cats are able to select and combine dry and wet foods to achieve their target,” said Adrian Hewson-Hughes from the Waltham Centre, which is funded by the Mars Petcare Brand.

In a series of three experiments, cats were provided wet and dry offerings in different combinations (150-gram portions for dry and 190-gram portions for wet) and in three-day cycles. Sometimes, they were offered the wet and dry foods at the same time or sequentially, i.e., wet and then dry and vice versa.

According to the findings, the cats always achieved the same balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats no matter what combinations or sequences of food they were provided.

The study says that balance was “remarkably consistent across all experiments.”

The report says cats have an innate target of getting 52 per cent of their daily calorie intake from protein, 36 per cent from fat and 12 per cent from carbohydrates. The experiments show that domesticated cats have managed to regulate their intake to match that of their feral counterparts.

The study concludes that cats should be provided with a mix of wet and dry foods so they can have the opportunity to sort out their intake.

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