Cat obesity remains a problem for pet owners around the world. From the most recent Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) survey results available, US veterinarians classified 33.8% of cats as obese in 2018. They identified 36.9% of the cats as overweight. Pet food makers can help address the problem of feline obesity by creating weight-management recipes using certain ingredients that regulate appetite in cats. A research team from Wageningen University conducted experiments to test the properties of foods that affect appetite and satiety in cats.
“Based on the work, increased protein levels and fermentable fiber may be considered to stimulate appetite control in restricted-feeding cats,” said study co-author Guido Bosch, PhD, animal nutrition professor at the University of Wegeningen, a Said in email.
His team observed that not all fiber in the formulation of pet food may be treated equal. In his experiments, only certain fibers affected appetite in cats.
“In one of our studies, we found no association between fiber and food motivation,” he said. “It is therefore important to carefully consider the physico-chemical properties of fiber that are related to gastrointestinal bulking, gelling, stickiness, and fermentation. These specific properties may affect appetite between meals. We studied the satiety-promoting properties of fermented fiber.” observed effects, but not for a gelling and a viscous fiber. We may have tested cats’ food motivation for the latter two fibers too early or these fibers are less effective in cats than in humans. Furthermore, It is of interest to find out whether the long-term observed effects of feeding fermented fiber-rich foods persist.”
Cat Digestion of Fiber
Cats and humans have different digestion of fibers. Similarly, cats have not evolved to be omnivores as is the case with dogs. As obligate carnivores, cats adapted to eat prey animals whole, minus a few tufts of fur. Those rats, rabbits and other predators had plants in their own stomachs from their last meal. This matryoshka dollop of nutrition means that feral cats consume the fibers, although in a very different way than domestic cats.
“On the one hand, given a cat’s small and underdeveloped colon and relatively short colonic residence time, it might actually be somewhat surprising that a fermented plant fiber affected a cat’s appetite,” he said. “On the other hand, cats that eat smaller prey also have fermentable substances (animal fibers) in their stomachs that can affect digestive physiology and appetite in the same way that plant fiber does. At this stage we don’t know what happens. Plant or animal fibers may better stimulate specific aspects of the complex response from the gut to the brain that results in appetite control.”
In follow-up work, Bosch’s team will focus on how food properties affect long-term feeding patterns and energy intake. Ultimately, they aim to provide insight into how facilitators can create foods that inhibit the development of obesity, as well as treat overweight and obese cats.