Cats are more satisfied and are less likely to beg for food if they are given one large meal a day, according to a new study.

Researchers from University of Guelph in Canada fed cats one large meal a day in the morning, and showed they were more satisfied than the cats fed four smaller meals throughout the day.

Feeding cats once a day could result in less food-begging behavior, like meowing and lingering in the kitchen, according to the study authors. Letting them eat once a day also replicate their eating patterns in the wild, practicing ‘intermittent fasting’ before their next meal.

The study also shows that pet parents must cut back on the frequency of feeding cats to reduce the risk of cat obesity from overeating, which makes the animals more prone to disease and shortens their life.

“These findings may surprise the veterinary community and many cat owners who have been told their animals need several small meals a day,” said study co-author Professor Adronie Verbrugghe at the University of Guelph in Canada. “But these results suggest there are benefits to this approach.”

VCA Animal Hospital recommends feeding cats at least two meals a day, once at breakfast and once at dinner, about 12 hours apart. But feeding animal companions also depend on their age.

For kittens up to the age of six months, since they burn more energy, they require three meals a day.

In University of Guelph’s study, they involved eight healthy-weight indoor cats – four males and four females – between the ages of one to four years. The result of the experiment showed that the cats who only ate one meal a day had a larger increase in blood amino acids, which means they had more protein to build some muscle. This is an important factor since many cats lose muscle mass as they age.

“Physiologically, it makes sense that feeding only once a day would have benefits,” said co-author Professor Kate Shoveller at University of Guelph. “When you look at human research, there’s pretty consistent evidence that there are positive health outcomes with intermittent fasting and improved satiety.”

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