This study aimed to evaluate the effects of increased meal frequency and dietary water content on voluntary physical activity in cats fed to maintain body weight.

Ten adult lean neutered male cats were used in two tests, both crossover studies composed of a 14-day adaptation period, followed by a seven-day measurement of physical activity. Cats were group-housed for most of the day, except for times when they were individually housed in cages to access their diet. In Experiment 1, the difference in voluntary physical activity among cats fed one, two, four or a random number of meals per day were tested. In Experiment 2, the effect of increasing dietary water content on voluntary physical activity was tested.

Cats were randomly assigned to two rooms and fed a dry commercial diet with or without added water (70% hydrated) twice daily. Activity levels were expressed as 'activity counts' per epoch (15 sec). In Experiment 1, average daily activity level for one-meal-fed cats was lower than four-meal-fed and random-meal-fed cats, especially during the assigned light period. The activity level of cats during the assigned dark period was greater in one-meal-fed cats compared with cats fed two meals or four meals daily. In Experiment 2, average daily activity level of cats fed the 70% hydrated diet tended to be higher than cats fed the dry diet, especially during the dark period.

In conclusion, increased feeding frequency and dietary water content, without changing energy intake or dietary macronutrient composition, appear to promote physical activity, which may aid in weight management in cats.

Source:  P. Deng et al., 2014. Effects of feeding frequency and dietary water content on voluntary physical activity in healthy adult cats. J Anim Sci online, February 2014. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-7235.