Categories: diet

Pet food manufacturers could provide summer and winter diets (and make more money)

I’m going to offer the pet food manufacturers a money-spinning idea which has just occurred to me. It may please them because the pet food manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to expand their range. An expanded range is likely to generate more income. For instance you’ve got the oral health dry cat food which is the same as the ordinary stuff but the pellets are bigger to help “brush” the teeth. My argument is that in the summer domestic cats should eat less. They should eat less because they require a lower input of energy and food is the source of energy for animals.

Feline dietary requirements in summer. If it is hot they eat less beacuse their thermoregulatory system commands it. Photo: EVG Culture from Pexels.

Lower energy requirements

They require a lower input of energy because the ambient conditions are a lot warmer. Therefore cats’ bodies are warmer. In turn, the body does not have to create so much heat by metabolising food. Therefore they require less food. They should eat less but the domestic cats have tended to lose their ability to regulate the amount of food they need. This may be because of their unnatural foods. Guiding them with controlled portions helps.

As a further point to make; in hot weather, and I stress hot, domestic cats are liable to be less active. They are more likely to rest in a shady spot. If they are indoor/outdoor cats they might even stay indoors to keep cool. As they are less active they burn this energy and therefore they need less food.

If they do eat less

If they do eat less their diet does not need controlling in terms of intake but there is still an advantage in packaging the food in smaller pouches as they won’t leave some in the bowl where it is wasted quickly if it is wet.

Thermoregulation

Ultimately, it’s about thermoregulation. This is the way the body instinctively maintains the correct core internal body temperature. When the ambient conditions are very cold the body has to work harder to maintain it and the opposite process takes effect in hot weather.

Some counter arguments

However, I would argue that the opposite effect occurs in warm weather (which undermines the argument). If the weather is warm and the cat is allowed outside they are likely to burn more energy because the weather is conducive to being outside more and exploring.

There are also some other counterarguments. For example, in winter it is more likely to rain and therefore a domestic cat is more likely to be less active. Also, a lot of cats in America are indoor cats and therefore the ambient temperature does not change. This argument does not affect indoor cats unless their home is poorly heated, in which case it does. It has occurred to me that if a home is centrally heated to a high level it may replicate hot weather outside. Cats living in these homes should eat less.

Summer feline diet – smaller pouches

However, on balance, my argument is that in the summer months the dietary requirements of domestic cats – and the same applies to people in general – are reduced in terms of quantity. If this is scientifically proven (see study below) manufacturers could produce a smaller sachet (pouch) for wet cat food and call it a summer feline diet. They can also produce a dry cat food which contains less energy without diminishing its quality. Or they could direct that the feed requirements are reduced. There is a need to control domestic cat diets as there is an obesity epidemic according to some veterinarians.

Study

A study by the University of Liverpool in 2014 found that domestic cats ate 15 percent more food in winter than in summer. They do so to keep themselves warm. And in the warmer months they are more likely to rest.

Veterinarian’s input

Caroline Allen, the Chief Veterinary Officer at the RSPCA, said that cats tend to go off their food when temperatures soar as is the case with people. She’s not sure why but I’ve given my reasons above. Clearly, if a cat has gone off their food and lost their appetite then the owner should involve a veterinarian to check for health issues. Loss of appetite is perhaps the single most common symptom of illness in both people and cats. But it may be the case that some cats eat anyway and gain weight in hot weather. A further study is perhaps required.

Wild cat species

Resting in hot weather is typical of the wild cat species. Many wild cat species hunt at night partly to avoid hot temperatures and they sleep during the day. Therefore this argument is in line with the behaviour of the domestic cat’s wild cat ancestor.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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