Seasonal variation in the voluntary food intake of domesticated cats (Felis catus)

Serisier, S.; Feugier, A.; Delmotte, S.éb.; Biourge, V.; German, A.J.

Plos one 9(4): E96071

2014


ISSN/ISBN: 1932-6203
PMID: 24759851
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096071
Accession: 055678707

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Abstract
There are numerous reports about seasonal cycles on food intake in animals but information is limited in dogs and cats. A 4-year prospective, observational, cohort study was conducted to assess differences in food intake in 38 ad-libitum-fed adult colony cats, of various breeds, ages and genders. Individual food intake was recorded on a daily basis, and the mean daily intake for each calendar month was calculated. These data were compared with climatic data (temperature and daylight length) for the region in the South of France where the study was performed. Data were analysed using both conventional statistical methods and by modelling using artificial neural networks (ANN). Irrespective of year, an effect of month was evident on food intake (P<0.001), with three periods of broadly differing intake. Food intake was least in the summer months (e.g. June, to August), and greatest during the months of late autumn and winter (e.g. October to February), with intermediate intake in the spring (e.g. March to May) and early autumn (e.g. September). A seasonal effect on bodyweight was not recorded. Periods of peak and trough food intake coincided with peaks and troughs in both temperature and daylight length. In conclusion, average food intake in summer is approximately 15% less than food intake during the winter months, and is likely to be due to the effects of outside temperatures and differences in daylight length. This seasonal effect in food intake should be properly considered when estimating daily maintenance energy requirements in cats.