A new study on cat food and fiber’s effect on cats’ appetite has found that certain fibers and the right amount of specific digestible proteins can help control appetite in cats.
These results are invaluable due to the ongoing obesity pandemic among cats. More precisely, around 33.8% of cats in the US were obese in 2018, while 25.7% had weight problems. Today, those numbers are likely to be even higher.
And to make matters worse, being even slightly overweight can lead to them living a much shorter life. However, being obese can take off five years from their lifespan, which is almost half of what they normally have.
A team from the University of Wageningen has tested how cats’ appetites change when exposed to different fibers and proteins. They’ve found that specific amounts of crude protein (12.0 to 27.4 g CP/MJ) have led to 5 hours of reduced appetite.
Another vital food component that has shown positive changes in controlling cats’ appetite is inulin, a fermentable dietary fiber. Unfortunately, other fermentable fibers didn’t show the same results.
These findings can be helpful to people creating pet food recipes, as they can incorporate them into those recipes, which would help reduce pet appetite and obesity.
However, the researchers recommend these results be taken with a grain of salt. Firstly, they didn’t have the opportunity to test how different fiber properties, such as viscosity, gelling, and fermentability, affect cats’ appetite. And the research is only based on fermentable fiber.
The research also didn’t test long-term effects, so we don’t know how taking these fibers can affect cats after some time.
What is known is that even feral cats consume fermentable fibers in nature. When they eat their prey, the prey already has some natural fermentable substances in their stomach.
Nevertheless, even these results are a huge leap forward in understanding how our cats should eat in order to avoid obesity and overeating.