Winter is here!!! With that, comes a lot of dark nights and festivities, surrounded by yummy foods that we wait for all year long! The delicious foods and comfort eating help us maintain our energy and our spirits, during the winter months. Believe it or not, this goes for our cats also. They love to munch just as much as we do during the winter season, maybe even more. However, for them, it is more of a necessity.
As the temperature drops, you might notice your cat’s appetite will increase. The lack of sunlight triggers an array of instinctive behaviours. The reason for this is that our furry friends need the energy they obtain from their food, to keep themselves warm in the colder temperatures. They burn more energy in an effort to stay warm, and even napping burns energy, as their body temperature drops during their resting periods. Although cats do have a desire to rest during hot summer days, the exposure to sunlight & warmer conditions, help to maintain a higher body temperature & trigger a response in the cat’s brain, making the cat less inclined to seek food.
Wild cats will sleep more in the winter months as an act of self-preservation. It is harder for them to find food, so they try to store fat & conserve energy. This instinct is maintained in domesticated cats.
In an experiment conducted over 4 years, by Liverpool University’s School of Veterinary Science, along with The Royal Canin Research Centre in France, 38 cats were observed and their eating was closely monitored. Cats of all ages and breeds were involved. In conclusion, it was found that all the cats ate more during the cold weather. There was approximately a 15% increase in their food intake.
Indoor cats are no exception to this need for more food. Even if they are living in temperature-controlled environments, the days are shorter. They are getting less light then they would in other seasons. So, this still effects their metabolism, even if their environment is controlled. You may have noticed that indoor cats will gravitate towards a sunny windowsill in summer and radiators / heaters in winter.
It is important to pay attention to your cats eating habits during these times. You obviously do not want to over-feed (particularly if your cat is already on the slightly heavier side!) and every cat is different regarding their energy levels and calorie intake requirements. However, the more active your cat, the more food it will need, and vice versa. People need to consider the amount of food their cat needs throughout the different times of the year, to help the cats maintain a healthy weight, regardless of the temperatures. It can also be a good idea to encourage your cat to play more in the winter months, to help counteract any additional food intake.
However, as cats are obligate carnivores, it is important to top up their food intake with more raw meat (or Purrform, is this is the cat’s normal diet), to provide them with higher levels of protein. Do not use kibble or treats etc. Please note that any food increases should be done gradually, as it could upset the cat’s delicate digestive system and remember to cut back on the food when the warmer weather returns.
If you are unsure about how much to feed your cat, speak to a professional. The team here at Purrform are also more than happy to help!