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Article

Food Preferences in Cats: Effect of Dietary Composition and Intrinsic Variables on Diet Selection

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Departamento de Medicina Preventiva Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, Santiago 8820808, Chile
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Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Universidad Pedro de Valdivia, Santiago 7500908, Chile
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Departamento de Fomento de la Producción Animal, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, Santa Rosa 11735, La Pintana, Santiago 8820000, Chile
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Departamento de Ciencias Animales, Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 7820436, Chile
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(6), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060372
Received: 13 April 2019 / Revised: 31 May 2019 / Accepted: 17 June 2019 / Published: 19 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
Cats tend to retain food preferences across their lifetime, but intrinsic variables could affect their diet choices so as to preserve internal homoeostasis. This work intended to study the feeding behavior of cats in relation to diet composition and some intrinsic variables (sex, age, and body weight) by analyzing data from a 10-year database of two-feeder food preference tests (2007–2017). Diet mineral components (calcium, crude fiber and ashes) affected food preferences negatively. In addition, the influence of body weight and sex manifested as lower food intake in both females and the heaviest cats (relative to bodyweight). However, only body weight affected food preferences, where the heaviest animals presented the higher preferences overall. During the cold season, animals (especially females) displayed higher food intake, whereas hot seasons increased male cat preferences for palatable diets, hence we observed an interaction between sex and climate season. In conclusion, understanding the relationship that both food composition and some intrinsic variables cats have with their diet preference could help in improving the formulation of specific pet food diets, so that these adequately satisfy the physiological and hedonic needs of domestic cats.
A ten-year database of food preference tests (n = 1021; period 2007−2017) was used to explore the feeding behavior of domestic cats. Principal component (PC) analysis and linear regression between food nutrients and preferences (for the most preferred diet of each test; Diet A) were performed. Intake and preference for Diet A were analyzed by intrinsic cats’ variables and climate season. The PC1 (calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), and ash), PC2 (lipids and ether extract) and PC4 (crude fiber; CF) had borderline significance (p < 0.06; β = −1.42, β = −1.56, and β = 2.68, respectively). Ash and CF contents presented negative correlations with food preference (rho = −0.269, p = 0.031; rho = −0.338, p = 0.006, respectively), and Ca had borderline significance and negative correlation with food preference (rho = −0.241, p = 0.054). Body weight and sex influenced the intake of Diet A, being lower for females (β = 11.758; p = 0.014) and heaviest cats (β = −5.490; p < 0.001). However, only body weight affected food preferences, where the heaviest cats had greater preferences for Diet A. Hot season decreased food intake (β = −2,117; p = 0.032), mostly in females (rho = −3.537; p = 0.002). Males had greater preferences for Diet A during hot seasons (β = 10.216; p = 0.023) and females presented similar preferences throughout the year (p = 0.950). Mineral contents, body weight and sex affected food intake and preferences of cats under the influence of climate season, probably explained by adaptive changes in food detection. View Full-Text
Keywords: cat; commercial diets; food selection; nutrients; climate season; sex cat; commercial diets; food selection; nutrients; climate season; sex
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MDPI and ACS Style

Alegría-Morán, R.A.; Guzmán-Pino, S.A.; Egaña, J.I.; Sotomayor, V.; Figueroa, J. Food Preferences in Cats: Effect of Dietary Composition and Intrinsic Variables on Diet Selection. Animals 2019, 9, 372. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060372

AMA Style

Alegría-Morán RA, Guzmán-Pino SA, Egaña JI, Sotomayor V, Figueroa J. Food Preferences in Cats: Effect of Dietary Composition and Intrinsic Variables on Diet Selection. Animals. 2019; 9(6):372. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060372

Chicago/Turabian Style

Alegría-Morán, Raúl A., Sergio A. Guzmán-Pino, Juan I. Egaña, Valeria Sotomayor, and Jaime Figueroa. 2019. "Food Preferences in Cats: Effect of Dietary Composition and Intrinsic Variables on Diet Selection" Animals 9, no. 6: 372. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060372

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