Creating a free account will enable you to subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters, as well as customize your reading experience to show only the categories most relevant to you.
Signing up only take a few minutes, so why not give it a try and see what you've been missing out on.
Lactating cats not only increase their total calorie consumption, they also significantly alter the make-up of their diet to meet the demands of feeding a litter, research from the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition has shown. The research provides intriguing insights into cats' feeding behaviour and strong evidence that they are able to adapt their macronutrient intake, i.e. their intake of protein, fat and carbohydrate, to meet their physiological requirements.
"It's no surprise that, just like humans, cats require more energy during pregnancy and when feeding their young. However, this research shows that lactating cats, particularly those with large litters, select their foods to alter the proportions of protein, fat and carbohydrate they consume", commented lead scientist Dr Adrian Hewson-Hughes, WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition. "If given the choice, cats with large litters will significantly alter their diet composition when feeding kittens to ensure a much greater proportion of energy is obtained from fat."
In the study, seventeen adult female cats were offered a choice of three nutritionally-complete wet foods with different proportions of protein, fat and carbohydrate. During pregnancy, the cats significantly increased their total energy intake, and the amounts of protein and fat consumed also increased linearly. When lactating, the cats with large litters of four or five kittens further increased their energy intake, consuming a significantly higher proportion of energy from fat and reducing the proportion of energy from protein and carbohydrate. Total fat intake tripled for the cats feeding large litters, and doubled for cats with smaller litters of one to three kittens.
Previous research has shown that non-reproducing adult cats with normal energy requirements have a limit to the amount of carbohydrate they will consume in a day (Hewson-Hughes et al. 2011). Specifically, cats' "carbohydrate ceiling" was found to be approximately 20g of carbohydrate per day. The present study expanded on these findings and showed that, while cats increased their intake of protein and fat during pregnancy and lactation, their carbohydrate intake did not exceed this limit of 20g per day. The research therefore shows that cats' "carbohydrate ceiling" still applies during the increased physiological demands of gestation and lactation.
The study was conducted by scientists from the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition, the state-of-the-art science institute for Mars Petcare, and the University of Aberdeen. It was presented at the WALTHAM® International Nutritional Sciences Symposium (WINSS), taking place from 1 October in Portland, Oregon, USA. WINSS brings together leading experts in the fields of nutritional and veterinary science to address critical issues in the field of pet health and nutrition.
The study forms part of a wider body of WALTHAM® research examining the feeding behaviour and nutritional needs of cats. It builds on previous WALTHAM® research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology showing that, if given the opportunity, adult cats will consistently compose a diet that is high in protein and fat.
Hewson-Hughes, A. et al. Geometric analysis of macronutrient selection in the adult domestic cat, Felis catus. Journal of Experimental Biology 15, 1039-51 (2011).
Hewson-Hughes, A. et al. Consistent proportional macronutrient intake selected by adult domestic cats (Felis catus) despite variations in macronutrient and moisture content of foods offered. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 183, 525-36 (2013).
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
Visit our Veterinary category page for the latest news on this subject.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
APCO Worldwide. "Cats adapt protein, fat and carbohydrate intake to meet the changing demands of pregnancy and lactation." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 6 Oct. 2013. Web.
9 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/266986>
APCO Worldwide. (2013, October 6). "Cats adapt protein, fat and carbohydrate intake to meet the changing demands of pregnancy and lactation." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
If you write about specific medications, operations, or procedures please do not name healthcare professionals by name.
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact the our editorial team, please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.
This page was printed from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/266986.php
Visit www.medicalnewstoday.com for medical news and health news headlines posted throughout the day, every day.
© 2004-2013 All rights reserved. MNT (logo) is the registered trade mark of MediLexicon International Limited.