Five-a-day diet makes fat cats lean, mean hunters

At least 39 per cent of pet cats are overweight and under-stimulated, so scientists have devised a “hunting diet” to also counteract boredom.

The plan mimics how cats eat in the wild. Sarah Ellis and Lizzie Rowe, scientists working with the Big Bang Fair 2017, said: “It encourages cats to climb, hunt, explore and play in the safety of their own home — activities that boost cats’ positive behaviour and well-being.”

They recommend giving cats five or more small portions of food a day, using home-made puzzle feeders, regularly changing where food is placed, monitoring behaviour and weight, and making sure that they have plenty of water.

They say that this could help to address “problems owners may see caused by feeding straight from packet to bowl, coupled with a lack of opportunity to interact with their environment”. They claim that modern cats’ lifestyle could lead to them not being mentally stimulated and eating too much, with at least 39 per cent of cats being overweight or obese.

Dr Ellis said: “The way we feed our cats generally does not match the lifestyle they were designed for. Cats have undergone little in the way of selective breeding during the domestication process and have an instinctive need to hunt.”