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Cats eat 15% less food in the summer says new study

Interested in animal advocacy? You can pass the word that cats have been found to eat more in the winter, says a new study. Cats, like many humans are more inclined to comfort eat when it's cold outside. In fact, cats eat more during the winter and owners should give their pet more food during this time, University of Liverpool research has found. You may wish to check out the abstract of the study, "Seasonal Variation in the Voluntary Food Intake of Domesticated Cats (Felis Catus)," published online April 23, 2014 in the journal PLOS One.

Cats eat 15% less food in the summer says new study.
Anne Hart, photography and novel.

If your cat's putting on too much weight now that it's warm outside, consider the amount of food your cats need at different times of year. This can be part of helping them to maintain a healthy weight. Cats eat more during the winter and owners should give their pet more food during this time, University of Liverpool research has found.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool's School of Veterinary Science, in collaboration with colleagues at the Royal Canin Research Center in France, spent four years monitoring how much cats chose to eat, and found that food intake increased in colder months and decreased during the summer.

The 38 cats studied had a microchip on their collar which allowed them to take as much food as they wanted from a dispenser which only opened for them

At the same time, this microchip recorded how much the cat had eaten and when. Veterinarian and study author, Dr Alex German, said, according to the May 23, 2014 news release, Cats found to eat more in the winter, "Cats, like many humans are more inclined to comfort eat when it's cold outside but, in their case, it's likely to be due to the extra energy they need to keep warm when out and about."

The study found that cats ate approximately 15% less food during summer, and the vets have concluded that the extra effort to keep warm in winter and the temptation to rest during hot summer days contributed to the swing in activity levels during the year.

Cats ate 15 percent less in the summer and rested during the hot days

The cats were all inhabitants of a center in southern France where they were allowed to play and exercise outside all year round. The cats were of mixed breeds, ages and genders. Data on food was compared to the climate in the area using computer modeling to provide information about how the temperature changed over the year.

Seasonal food intake has also been examined in the past on farm animals, such as dairy cows, to establish new ways of increasing milk production, but this is the largest study that has yet taken place with domestic cats.

Dr German said, according to the news release, "People should consider the amount of food their cats need at different times of year as this can be part of helping them to maintain a healthy weight."

Just as with people, feline obesity is most often linked to excessive food intake or not enough physical activity

Smaller meals more times per day may curb obesity in cats, says the new study. Attempts to cut back on calories alone often result in failed weight loss or weight regain in both people and their pets. But how do you encourage your cat to get more exercise? Another recent study discusses how to keep cats at healthy body weights.

Maintaining healthy body weight in cats

In another recent study by different scientists, researchers from the University of Illinois interested in finding a method to maintain healthy body weight in cats, looked at a previously suggested claim that increased meal frequency could help to increase overall physical activity. The idea is to feed cats the appropriate amount of food needed to maintain a healthy body weight, but to offer it in more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day. Results of the study, "Effects of feeding frequency and dietary water content on voluntary physical activity in healthy adult cats," are published online in a February 3, 2014 issue of the Journal of Animal Science, where you can check out the abstract of the research results.

Promoting more physical activity with decreasing overall food intake and increased frequency of meals per day

Animal sciences researcher Kelly Swanson and his lab at the University of Illinois determined that both increasing the frequency of meals fed per day, as well as offering meals that contained added dietary water—neither method involved decreasing the overall amount of daily food intake—did promote more physical activity among the cats in the study.

"It all comes down to energy in and energy out. It's very simple on paper, but it's not that easy in real life, especially in a household where there is more than one pet. That can be difficult, but I think these two strategies are very practical ideas that people can use," Swanson said in the February 20, 2014 news release, "Smaller meals more times per day may curb obesity in cats."

During the two-part study, the researchers evaluated the activity of the cats between meals using activity collar monitors. In the first experiment, the cats were divided among four rooms and were given dry kibble meals four times per day, two times per day, one time per day, and in the fourth room, were fed a random number of meals per day. The overall amount of food fed to each cat in each room per day was the same; feeding frequency varied.

In the second experiment, the cats were divided among two rooms and were fed twice per day with a 70 percent hydrated diet, using similar amounts of dry kibble used in the first experiment to maintain body weight. Water was added to the kibble an hour before each meal time, Swanson explained.

The cats were placed in their individual cages only during mealtimes so that the researchers could accurately monitor their food intake

During the activity monitoring times, the cats had limited interaction with people. The researchers evaluated the cats' food anticipatory activity (FAA), which included the activity of each cat two hours before meals were given. During the dry kibble experiment, they noticed that the cats were much more active during those anticipatory times, especially those fed four meals per day and those given meals at random times.

"If they know they are going to get fed, that's when they are really active, if they can anticipate it," Swanson said, according to the February 20, 2014 news release, "Smaller meals more times per day may curb obesity in cats." The cats showed an even greater spike in physical activity in the second experiment when they were fed meals with the added water. However, Swanson said the biggest difference in peak activity times with this group occurred in the periods after they had eaten. He added that the researchers had not determined why this was, though factors such as increased use of the litter box, for example, could have come into play.

"I think veterinarians will be interested in this information because it gives them evidence to be able to recommend something to pet owners that could help with feline obesity and diabetes," Swanson said, according to the news release. "When cats are allowed to feed ad libitum, it's difficult to prevent obesity. It is important to identify the right diet. Many owners are accustomed to dumping a pile of food out for multiple cats, just once per day. "The owner does have an active role in helping with weight management," he added.

Owners often overfeed their cats, assuming that the small amount of food needed isn't going to fill their cat or dog. "Because most pet foods are so digestible and nutrient dense, owners see that small bowl of food and think there's no way they can survive on that but they can," Swanson said in the news release.

The key is figuring out how much food is needed to maintain your cat's healthy body weight

"It is tricky because labels on pet food provide ranges for how much should be fed. If you're feeding a cat, that food is supplied to thousands of cats with different metabolism. Some are spayed or neutered, and ages are different," Swanson explained in the news release.

Adding water to dry food, or using wet canned food, may provide a greater gut fill to pets. Swanson also said once the dry kibble absorbs the water, it does look like "more" to the owner, perhaps alleviating the fear that the pet is not eating enough.

He added that rotating between dry kibble meals and wet or canned food could also help in maintaining body weight. Recognizing that the lifestyle of pet owners may not allow for regulating multiple feedings per day, Swanson said if a pet owner could even go from offering only one meal per day to two, it could possibly promote more physical activity.

"With cats, one of the tricky things is that few people can walk their cats. We haven't done studies looking at what happens if you are just in the room with the cat more often and how active you can encourage your cat to be by playing with it. There could be other strategies. From a diet perspective, this is something that is relatively simple," he said, according to the news release. Also, you may wish to see the site, University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Cats thriving better on special raw food diets?

National and local cat rescue groups might be interested in looking at how nutritional anthropology as a field researched raw foods diets with cats. Eventually the studies of raw nutrition with cats led to quite a lot of published books on raw foods diets for people.

Research in this arena is related to studies in three branches of anthropology--ethnobotany, nutritional anthropology, and nutritional archaeology. And those fields are linked to genetics, which eventually becomes of interest to genealogists. Basically, it all starts with cat rescue groups feeding dry food to cats, which is affordable. It starts with Pottenger's cats and branches out to human diets, genealogy, and basically, health. There's a branch of anthropology that studies health and degeneration based on diets, cultures, and history, especially family history. You can apply this type of research to pets or people.

Did you know anthropologists also have a food research-related specialty called Nutritional Anthropology?

Nutritional anthropologists study the relationship between genetic variability in populations and food consumption patterns. That brings DNA-driven genealogy into contact with genetics counseling. The field is an interdisciplinary science. Food is part of culture. See the site, Food Archaeology.

Sometimes genealogists take an interest in researching applied anthropological studies in nutrition and health. This branches out into another specialty called Focused Ethnographic Studies (FES). For example, with the aid of manuals, short-term qualitative studies have been conducted in planning interventions to improve vitamin A status in deficient populations and for interventions intended to improve the feeding of infants and young children. There's a type of marriage between genealogy and anthropology. It applies to people as well as pets.

How does research in nutritional anthropology relate to feeding cats raw foods which led to more studies based on a percentage of vegan raw food diets fed to people?

In the USA, there are numerous cat rescue groups, and most of them are feeding cats dry food. Yet while doing nutritional research with the adoptable cats in some of these groups, a special book came by mail titled, Pottenger's Cats, A study in Nutrition. How many cat rescue groups locally feed cats raw foods? How expensive is it? And if you have cats, do they share your own raw diet--you with vegetables and fruits, and the cats with what foods help cats to thrive best? See the YouTube video, Feeding Raw Food To Your Cat.

In the case of cats, Pottenger found it was raw meat. He fed his cats raw milk, even though milk that's not raw is said to give some cats diarrhea and cataracts. Why does raw milk work? And what kind of raw meat did Pottenger feed his cats to be so healthy? What role did the cod liver oil play--supplying the Omega 3 fatty acids? Was it the cod liver oil that made the difference?

Pottenger's cats ate certain raw foods

The book is a classic in the science of nutrition that applies to humans as well as cats. Dr. Pottenger by chance found that his cats degenerated unless they were fed raw food. In his 10-year study of 900 cats, he found the optimal diet for his cats was 2/3 raw meat and 1/3 raw milk plus a specific amount, small, but precise amount, of cod liver oil. If either the meat or the milk was cooked, the cats degenerated. And if both were cooked, the degeneration was much worse. His cats, that is the cats he studied, could no longer reproduce by the third generation.

Does this type of nutrition apply in any way to humans? Pottenger thought so, at least to some extent of what humans can digest. Several nutrition-related problems Pottenger found in the cats fed cooked food were: heart problems, nearsightedness and farsightedness, underactivity and inflammation of the thyroid, infections of the kidney, liver, testes, ovaries and bladder, arthritis and inflammation of the joints, inflammation of the nervous system with paralysis and meningitis. Does this sound exactly like what humans eventually get when they eat nothing but cooked foods all the time? And processed foods are similar to cooked foods, in many cases.

Separating the digestive system of humans and cats, certain types of raw food are good for humans, for example vegetables, fruits, some dehydrated meats or fish, and anything not harmful when eaten raw. What is it about cooked food that ages humans rapidly and pushes them into degenerative diseases long before their time?

And why does six percent of the human population thrive regardless what diet they eat? Could it be adaptive genes to modern foods for some but not for most? Many of Pottenger's third generation of cats had bones that became as soft as rubber, according to the book. Lung problems, bronchitis, and pneumonia sprang up constantly. Sound like what happens to humans on a cooked food diet and aging too rapidly?

The female cats soon developed irritable personalities, and some became dangerous. At the same time also on the cooked food diet, the male cats became passive and lacked an interest in sex. Sound anything like behavior attributable to humans that all the time eat cooked foods?

Pottenger knew his cat studies didn't apply totally to humans

The digestive systems are different. He believed that what made the cats healthy could also make humans healthier. When Pottenger did his research, he didn't know exactly what applied to humans.

What he did do was visit his sanitarium where he fed his very sick human patients much raw food, with enough success to write about it in his book on nutrition. Another researcher, Weston A. Price, a dentist by training, in the 1930s, focused on what healthy nutrition is supposed to do.

Price believed more or less that food is medicine. There's also a newer book on nutrition published in 1999, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon (Paperback - 1999). Nourishing Traditions, reports that humans are healthier when they include a lot of raw food in their traditional diets. Also see any of these excellent books, The Metabolic Typing Diet and Life Without Bread. The book, Life Without Bread presents a unified theory of how moderate levels of dietary carbohydrate cause or exacerbate various health problems.

Weston A. Price, DDS, back in the 1930s actually focused on looking at people's teeth as a gateway to the health of the rest of the body

The people he studied that ate lots of raw foods were found to be almost entirely free of the degenerative diseases and dental problems that are rampant in eaters of lots of fast foods and processed foods today.

The human raw-food eaters didn't have tooth decay, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, digestive disturbances, and thyroid problems, according to Price's book which also noted numerous studies. Price traveled worldwide looking for the healthiest people around the globe as he researched their daily diets and lifestyles.

Weston A. Price's book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, contains photographs of humans on raw food diets and other healthy diets, also including cooked soups and stews. He emphasized how what people eat is related to the condition of their bones and teeth.

One section in Dr. Price's book on Nutrition and Physical Degeneration described "the active X factor." It actually referred to the use of what we now know today as the role that vitamin K plays in helping to prevent certain types of hardening of the arteries such as calcification and bone loss.

As far as cats, Pottenger, another researcher, opened the door to exploring the link between what makes cats healthy and what helps humans

Both in many instances point to a lot of raw, unprocessed foods, as long as you can digest them and they are free of harmful microbes and other parasites. Now, it's about time to look into raw foods diets for dogs.

Probably, every living creature can benefit somewhat from at least a partially raw food diet as long as the food can be digested and promotes health. Many people enjoy a diet containing some raw vegetable salads and fruits.

Food Archaeology Trivia

According to the Food and Culture Encyclopedia, at, "when archaeologists unearthed actual charred meals, most notably at Pompeii and Herculaneum, covered by ash when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE, inhabitants left complete meals on tables, food in shops, and loaves of bread in bakery ovens.

"Egyptian priests at the Temple of Isis in Pompeii were eating a meal of fish and eggs when the eruption occurred. Researchers at Pompeii have taken their work a step further to investigate how the Romans, master urban planners, incorporated growing, processing, distribution, and storage of food and drink into the city layout. By measuring distances from dwellings to restaurants and bakeries, they can determine how far a citizen had to travel to quench his thirst or get something to eat."

"Effects of feeding frequency and dietary water content on voluntary physical activity in healthy adult cats" was recently published in the February 3, 2014 issue of the Journal of Animal Science and can be accessed online. Co-authors of the study were P. Deng, E. Iwazaki, S.A. Suchy, M.R. Pallotto, and K.S. Swanson.

Hero cats in WWII history

During World War Two, military officers awarded a hero's medal to Simon, the black and white short-haired Tuxedo cat, for protecting the soldier's food supply by eating the plentiful tropical rats, mice, lizards, insects, and other creatures that might have otherwise destroyed the human military force's scarce food rations under steamy war-time conditions in China and the South Pacific.

Warfare involved battles under humid, tropical conditions. But in colder European waters, Oscar, the black cat, nicknamed "double agent" dined on feasts fit for sea captains' tables, regardless of which side competed to rescue the cat first.

Unfortunately for the humans, Oscar endured three ships being sunk. But Oscar, the cat survived all those encounters unscathed and eventually found a loving, generous home with a family in the balmy Mediterranean land of Gibraltar.

Did his nine lives save him? Regardless of which side rescued Oscar , the officers made the black cat that vessel's mascot. Lucky Oscar, but for the three ships, including an aircraft carrier that took on the cat, all three of them were destroyed. Oscar survived in the open sea, claws tight on driftwood. Perhaps he should have been named Jonah. No sailor could resist rescuing the cat and caring for him throughout the war.

He survived in good shape in the midst of the war's battle zones on sea and in the air, inspite of plane crashes and ships being sunk with few human survivors. Whether floating on driftwood or on aircraft carrier flotsam, as soon as the winning side of the day spotted the black cat alone at sea gripping a mere plank among the waves, the warriors took him onboard.

Oscar, the seafaring cat, had the men on deck actually the officer's chefs, cooking his favorite menu, fish bacala...but the cat should have been named Jonah. Oscar began his ‘naval’ career protecting the kitchen dining area of military ships from those small intruders. The hero cat earned his medal for bravery and kitchenmeister as official mascot on the German Battleship, Bismarck during World War Two. Oscar roamed the decks, ate his fish rations, kept the kitchens free of vermin, and scratched at his wooden posts as the Bismarck battled the British destroyer, Cossack.

When the Cossack sunk the Bismarck, Oscar floated on flotsam sniffing after shellfish and seaweed. The British admiral saw a cat on a wet wood roof in the middle of the ocean and rescued him. Soon tomcat, Oscar became the mascot of the Cossack, living pretty much the same cozy cat life, when it was decided to transfer him to the British aircraft carrier, Ark Royal where Oscar dined on military rations. The admiralty noticed a black cat “walking the plank” of flotsam driftwood and rescued Oscar once more from the floating flotsam. And for a third time, Oscar became the aircraft carrier’s mascot and pet cat fed only the finest tidbids of the captain's table.

Along came an enemy warship and destroyed the Ark Royal. Oscar survived again by floating on a wooden plank and looking so irresistible that the admirals couldn’t help rescuing him. Oscar survived his second shipwreck and third ship, finally to be taken to Gibraltar to be someone’s pet. The sailors kept tab of Oscar’s nine lives. In Britain, black cats are said to be lucky, that is, from the cat’s point of view.

I found this Associated Press news story when I went to photocopy a newspaper dated November 18, 1941, to see what happened in the world on that day of special significance to me. The original article about Oscar appeared in the San Francisco newspaper, the Call-Bulletin for that day.

The title of the article was “Oscar Has His 9 Lives, But Loses His 3 Ships.” The Associated Press article began, “GIBRALTAR, Nov. 18 (AP)—Oscar, the Nazi-reared black cat who has been the pet of three warships, is safe and sound here, but all three ships are at the bottom of the sea. In fact, Oscar has been a Jonah to two navies.”

Cat stories dating from World War Two take a lot of research to locate. If you think it took courage to be Oscar, the feline mascot of two navies, meet another cat named Windy, the pet of Wing Commander, Guy Gibson, VC, the dam-buster of World War II. Windy accompanied Gibson on dangerous war time missions. Windy flew in planes and knew how to swim. This cat put in “more flying hours than most cats,” From (Desmond Morris, Cat World, Edbury). See the “Famous Cats” site. Also view the article titled, "And Famous Cats We All Love.

Whisky, the tabby cat slept in ‘luxury’ on the HMS Duke of York as the British battleship sunk the German warship, Scharnhorst during World War II. Cats and other animals served as mascots, mine sniffers, and pets with the British and Commonwealth forces.

Cat mascot, Susan attended the D-Day invasion after making herself at home on a landing craft of the Royal Navy. The South African Rifle Unit also kept a lion as mascot. If you want to see photos of these World War II cat mascots, their photos are at the site, "WW2 Mascots," (A Special Presentation from Hahn’s 50th AP K-9, West Germany). The site contains actual photos of a few of the World War II cats and also some dogs and other animals that served with the military forces as mascots and pets on board ships, planes, or in the field.

Simon, the black and white “tuxedo cat” mascot aboard the HMS Amethyst, a British Escort Sloop, was the only cat to ever receive the specific Dickin VC medal in April 1949, soon after World War II ended. You can view Simon with the medal on his collar in a photo currently on the Hahn site.

Simon became famous, according to the news story on the Hahn site, when the cat was aboard the HMS Amethyst, designed for convoy escort duty during the Second World War. That sloop happened to be in China just as Mao Tse-Tung's forces consolidated their hold on the country.

The sloop slipped and became trapped on the Yangtze River. As the Chinese shelled the ship, Simon found a way to hide from the bullets during the siege when the ship was hit 50 times.

Seventeen humans were killed, with 25 wounded. Simon hid in the wreckage. And no one found him for four days. But call it the luck of nine lives, Simon survived on gourmet dining of those fat, juicy rats that boarded the trapped ship. Picture this image: trapped cat, trapped ship, trapped rats. But Simon quickly found a solution to the survival problem.

By eating the rats and not the human’s food, the cat preserved the dwindling human’s food supply as the sailors defended themselves. According to the article about Simon on the Hahn site “The Communist forces then besieged the ship for most of the summer. Despite his wounds, Simon, the cat, continued his duties, hunting rats on the trapped ship, helping to preserve the dwindling food supply, until the incident ended. It should be noted, that Simon was the only cat to ever receive the award.”

During World War Two, British cats received their just rewards by having college dormitories open to them. The concept of the college cat continues today. The Library rules and Emergency Procedures at Jesus College, in Cambridge, England states, “Please do not let the college cat into the library.” Watchful cats feel at home among the academic courts of Cambridge, England.

The cat usually sleeps on the sofas in the college offices and roams the campus. College cats are popular today as they were 65 years ago at Oxford, Hertford College, Strong College, and Jesus College in Cambridge, England. View articles, news, and photos on contemporary college cats in England on the Collegiate Way site. America has The Library Cat Society . The Library Cat Society , founded in 1987 by Phyllis Lahti encourages the establishment of a cat or cats in a library environment.

In America, cats do enter the library. When cats are in the library, more people come into the library to read books and smile at the cats. The outgoing, friendly cats sometimes go to people to be petted. (Library cats know where their food, water, and litter boxes are located.) Persons allergic to cats use the library when the cats are put in a special area or use a different library branch. Library cats are well cared for and have proper veterinary visits.

Some prisons even require certain inmates to care for shelter cats in the inmates' cells. The experience is said to be calming for both. But the menu?

Address for further information on The Library Cat Society is at:
The Library Cat Society
PO Box 274 Moorhead, MN 56560

Library Cats on the Web
According to their site, Iron Frog Productions, an award-winning independent film and video production group, puts library cats on the map. To find cats living in libraries, visit the Iron Frog Productions site. Designed by Catalyst Learning Systems of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the site features the "Library Cats Map of the United States." Select any state on the map, and view a list of the cats known to reside (or to have formerly resided) in libraries in that state.

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