I call it three degrees of eating: winter, spring/autumn and summer. Although research finds that the domestic cat eats more in winter it is actually a bit more subtle than that. In any case, I’m not sure that this study is particularly useful to cat owners because a lot of cats live indoors full-time or only go outside occasionally and in which case the air temperature and the amount of daylight is almost irrelevant.
In any case the study which, was published on the Plos One website concerned 38 cats in the South of France. The cats were of various sizes, genders and types etc. One thing I’m not sure at this stage is whether they were all stray, outdoor cats. It would seem that way.
What the researchers found was that cats vary their intake of food depended upon the amount of daylight in the air temperature which in turn is dependent upon the seasons. The study measured the food intake of each individual cat over successive months.
The conclusion was that cats eat 15% less in the summer months than the winter months and in between these two extremes there is spring and autumn at which time cats eat an amount that was in between the levels at winter and summer. Spring was taken to mean March to May and the autumn season with respect to the study was September. Summer months were June to August and winter was October to February.
There it is really. I’m not sure, as mentioned, that it is particularly significant because I would have thought that these results were modifiable dependent upon the current lifestyle the cat lives e.g. full-time indoor cat, indoor cat but an outside enclosure, indoor outdoor cat, largely an outdoor cat. I say this because the researchers concluded that, as mentioned, the amount of daylight and temperature were the determining factors.
The obvious reason why cats eat more in winter is because it is colder and therefore it takes more energy to keep warm. The reason why cats eat less during summer is because they are potentially more passive, less active due to higher temperatures. Heat makes us lazier, I guess. It also seems to take away the appetite.
It may be useful for cat owners to at least recognise this difference in eating habits and perhaps modify their cat’s diet accordingly.