Despite domestication, cats still show seasonal fluctuations in pet food intake, body weight and activity, said David Thomas, PhD, senior lecturer at Massey University in New Zealand. During Petfood Forum Europe 2015 on June 10 in Cologne, Germany, he presented new research indicating these seasonal changes and argued they could have implications for feeding trials as dictated by Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) rules.
For example, Thomas shared market data from ACNielsen for cat food sales in New Zealand over two years, showing seasonal spikes and dips in sales. This correlates to research conducted by Thomas and his colleagues with Massey University’s colony of 150 cats, in which the cats exhibited seasonal changes in body weight and hair coat quality.
Specifically, body weight tended to decline in the warmer months (autumn in New Zealand). According to Thomas, this could be in conflict with AAFCO’s “minimum feeding protocol for proving an adult maintenance claim for a cat food,” which states, “No individual cat should lose more than 15% of its initial body weight.”
Thomas also presented a review of Stephen O'Brien’s extensive research over the past 10 years or so on the evolution of the domestic cat, supporting his theory. He added that much more research needs to be done.
Petfood Forum Europe 2015, held in conjunction with Victam International, enjoyed record attendance of more than 200 pet food professionals from throughout Europe and the world—32 countries in all. That represented a 25% increase over the last edition of the conference in 2011. For more information, visit www.petfoodforumevents.com.