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Cats fed dry diets may be less willing to eat other food types, study shows

Research published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior suggests that feedings cats exclusively a dry petfood diet may make them less willing to eat other types of foods.

The study involving 18 cats examined how cats develop dietary preferences. Researchers looked at whether kittens first fed moist diets, then switched to kibble, would make an easier transition back to moist foods than kittens that were fed dry food from the beginning.

From ages 9-20 weeks, 13 cats were fed either commercial canned food, commercial raw food or homemade raw diets. Another five cats were fed only dry diets during the same age period. At the end of the post-weaning period, all 18 cats were fed a commercial dry diet from 7-23 months. As adults, the 18 cats were offered one of three moist foods: commercial canned, commercial raw or homemade raw.

According to the study:
• Kittens fed exclusively kibble for more than a 7-month period after weaning were not interested in the moist diets, including cats fed a moist diet during the post-weaning period.
• Cats fed one of the moist diets during the post-weaning period maintained their weight better when the moist food was reintroduced if they spent less time on the dry food diet. Four of five cats (80 percent) that were fed dry food for 7 months maintained their weight once reintroduced to the moist foods, compared with two of five cats (40 percent) that maintained their weight after 17 months of eating dry food.
• Kittens fed canned foods were more accepting of both raw and canned diets than kittens fed exclusively raw diets during the post-weaning period.

The study's authors point out that this is a preliminary study and that a larger sample of cats is required to verify these findings, but believe the research supports the benefit of offering dietary variety to cats throughout their life.

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