Overeating not only causes weight gain in cats, but can also affect nutrient digestion and cause changes in their gut microbiota.
This is stated in a study published in the Journal of Animal Science, writes Science Alert.
11 “skinny”, sterilized adult cats took part in the experiment.
They were fed an accessible, balanced and dosed diet for two weeks while the scientists took baseline measurements.
For the next 18 weeks, the animals were given the same food but allowed to eat as much as they wanted.
At baseline, as well as 6, 12 and 18 weeks after the start of undosed nutrition, the researchers collected samples of feces and blood. They also monitored the animals’ physical activity.
“We expected that weight gain might lead to a decrease in physical activity, but we did not observe any consistent changes in activity levels. However, this may vary between individual cats and their environment, as well as how much their owners interact with them“, said study author and nutrition scientist Kelly Swanson.
At the same time, the increased portions caused the quadrupeds to gain weight and body fat, while their ability to digest nutrients decreased.
“When the body receives less food, it will be more efficient at extracting nutrients. But when the amount of food increases, it passes through the digestive system faster and less nutrients are extracted in the process“, says Swanson.
Scientists also examined the feces of animals – the stool was more acidic. This is a sign that the food is not being digested efficiently.
“In humans, low faecal pH indicates poor absorption of carbohydrates and fat. Our findings correlate with this, as lower faecal pH is consistent with greater food intake and reduced digestibility.”the scientist explains.
The researchers found differences in the types of microbes from the gut before and after 18 weeks of free feeding.
And they also noted that the time of passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract was reduced by approximately 25%.
“The change in GI transit time was a novel finding and a potential cause of the change in fecal microbiota“, says researcher Swanson.
He added that after the experiment, 11 cats were put on a restricted diet, which fortunately allowed them to lose weight and return to their original levels.
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