Smaller food por­tions make for hap­pier cats

The Herald - - NEWS -

CATS would have health­ier lifestyles if they were fed five or more small por­tions of food a day in­stead of less fre­quent big­ger por­tions, ac­cord­ing to a diet plan cre­ated by sci­en­tists.

The pro­gramme sug­gests that mim­ick­ing the way cats eat in the wild could change their be­hav­iour and make them hap­pier and health­ier.

It en­cour­ages cats to climb, hunt, ex­plore and play in the safety of their own home – ac­tiv­i­ties which the ex­perts say boost cats’ pos­i­tive be­hav­iour and well-be­ing.

Sci­en­tists work­ing with The Big Bang Fair 2017 – a science and en­gi­neer­ing fair for young peo­ple in Birm­ing­ham – claim cats’ mod­ern lifestyles could lead to pets not be­ing men­tally stim­u­lated and eat­ing too much food.

The change in diet could help ad­dress prob­lems that own­ers may see in cats caused by feed­ing straight from packet to bowl, cou­pled with a lack of op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with their en­vi­ron­ment.

The idea – dubbed the five a day Felix plan and cre­ated by Dr Sarah El­lis and Dr Lizzie Rowe – rec­om­mends giv­ing cats five or more small por­tions of food a day, rather than feed­ing them fewer, big­ger por­tions.

It also sug­gests us­ing home-made puz­zle feed­ers, chang­ing food lo­ca­tion reg­u­larly, mon­i­tor­ing be­hav­iour and weight, and mak­ing sure they have plenty of wa­ter.

Dr El­lis, a fe­line be­hav­iour spe­cial­ist, said: “The way we feed our cats gen­er­ally does not match the life­style they were de­signed for. Cats have un­der­gone lit­tle in the way of se­lec­tive breed­ing dur­ing the do­mes­ti­ca­tion process and there­fore have an in­stinc­tive need to hunt.

“This mod­ern life­style could be dan­ger­ous to pets, but by mak­ing a few sim­ple changes to the way we feed them, we can help our cats to live longer, health­ier and hap­pier lives.

“The plan, based on sci­en­tific ev­i­dence, helps ev­ery cat owner mimic the con­di­tions cats would usu­ally con­tend with to get their food.”

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