Effects of early experience on food acceptance in a colony of adult research cats: A preliminary study
Acceptance of feline commercial canned and raw-type moist foods was evaluated in 18 adult cats with and without dietary pre-exposure to the same moist foods in the postweaning period. We hypothesized that cats pre-exposed to moist foods would readily accept canned or raw foods on re-exposure as adults, despite consuming a commercial expanded dry food for a period of 7-23 months. A total of 13 cats were fed 1 of 3 moist foods (commercial canned, commercial raw, or homemade raw foods) exclusively between 9 and 20 weeks of age (exposed), and 5 adult cats were offered only dry food during the postweaning period (unexposed). All 18 cats were offered 1 of 3 moist foods as adults. The relative risk, confidence intervals, and P values were determined for weight maintenance and food intake between the exposed and nonexposed cats when they were fed moist foods as adults. Moist food acceptance was generally poor when offered to adult cats accustomed to eating an expanded dry diet for >7 months. There was no difference (P = 0.61) in weight maintenance between those cats fed a moist food or expanded dry food as kittens and the later acceptance of a commercial canned or raw-type moist food as an adult. Similarly, adequacy of food intake measured as a proportion of estimated resting energy expenditure was not different between groups. The shorter the duration of dry food feeding, the greater was the likelihood of weight maintenance on reintroduction of moist foods. Kittens fed canned foods showed greater adaptability and acceptance of both raw and canned foods than those pre-exposed to either of the raw foods. In conclusion, prefeeding kittens a raw or canned food during the postweaning period between 9 and 20 weeks of age, followed by a period of dry foods for >7 months, did not increase later acceptance of the foods as an adult as compared with feeding expanded dry foods alone. Further studies with larger numbers of cats are needed to verify these observations and determine statistical significance.
B A. Hamper, B Rohrbach, Claudia A. Kirk, Angela L. Lusby, and Joe W. Bartges. "Effects of early experience on food acceptance in a colony of adult research cats: A preliminary study" Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 7.1 (2012): 27-32.
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