Cats found to eat more in the winter

May 28, 2014
A feral cat. Credit: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/Wikipedia.

Cats eat more during the winter and owners should give their pet more food during this time, University of Liverpool research has found.

Researchers from the University's School of Veterinary Science, in collaboration with colleagues at the Royal Canin Research Centre in France, spent four years monitoring how much chose to eat, and found that intake increased in colder months and decreased during the summer.

The 38 cats studied had a on their collar which allowed them to take as much food as they wanted from a dispenser which only opened for them. At the same time, this microchip recorded how much the cat had eaten and when.

Veterinarian and study author, Dr Alex German, said: "Cats, like many humans are more inclined to comfort eat when it's cold outside but, in their case, it's likely to be due to the extra energy they need to keep warm when out and about."

The study found that cats ate approximately 15% less food during summer, and the vets have concluded that the extra effort to keep warm in winter and the temptation to rest during hot summer days contributed to the swing in activity levels during the year.

The cats were all inhabitants of a centre in southern France where they were allowed to play and exercise outside all year round. The cats were of mixed breeds, ages and genders. Data on food was compared to the climate in the area using computer modelling to provide information about how the temperature changed over the year.

Seasonal has also been examined in the past on farm animals, such as dairy cows, to establish new ways of increasing milk production, but this is the largest study that has yet taken place with domestic cats.

Dr German said: "People should consider the amount of food their cats need at different times of year as this can be part of helping them to maintain a healthy weight."

The paper was published in the journal PLOS One.

Explore further: Stroking could stress out your cat

More information: Paper:

Related Stories

Stroking could stress out your cat

October 7, 2013

A new study by an international team of animal behaviour specialists suggests that cats who reluctantly allow their owners to stroke them could be more stressed out than moggies who carefully avoid being petted.

Smaller meals more times per day may curb obesity in cats

February 11, 2014

Just as with people, feline obesity is most often linked to excessive food intake or not enough physical activity. Attempts to cut back on calories alone often result in failed weight loss or weight regain in both people ...

Keep cats away from Easter lilies

April 14, 2014

Emergency Room veterinarians at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University are warning pet owners that Easter lilies can cause kidney failure – and often death ...

Recommended for you

Scientists overcome key CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing hurdle

December 1, 2015

Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT have engineered changes to the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system that significantly cut down on "off-target" ...

Study finds 'rudimentary' empathy in macaques

December 1, 2015

(—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow ...

Which came first—the sponge or the comb jelly?

December 1, 2015

Bristol study reaffirms classical view of early animal evolution. Whether sponges or comb jellies (also known as sea gooseberries) represent the oldest extant animal phylum is of crucial importance to our understanding of ...

Trap-jaw ants exhibit previously unseen jumping behavior

December 1, 2015

A species of trap-jaw ant has been found to exhibit a previously unseen jumping behavior, using its legs rather than its powerful jaws. The discovery makes this species, Odontomachus rixosus, the only species of ant that ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 28, 2014
Thanks Professor Obvious!

Next study: Do cats eat more when they're sleeping or awake?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.