Good news, cat owners! Your cats will still love you even if you put them on a diet. A recent study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior has found that cats on diets will actually show their owners more, not less, affection. Since an estimated 50% of all domestic cats are above their ideal body weight, and 35% can be classified as obese, this study provides a great incentive to get your cat to shed a few extra pounds.
Researchers chose 58 overweight cats to participate in the study. They each went on one of three different diets. Owners were asked about their cats’ pre-feeding behaviors (begging, following, meowing, pacing) and post-feeding behaviors (lap-sitting, purring, resting, sleeping, and using the litter box) before and during the diet. They were also asked about their cats’ overall displays of affection in the same time period.
Results show that approximately 80% of all the cats lost weight while on the diets. What about their behaviors? The cats did increase the frequency of all of their pre-meal behaviors: begging, following, meowing, and pacing. But they did not begin these begging behaviors any earlier during the diet.
Some of the post-meal behaviors (lap-sitting, purring, and using the litter box) increased in frequency during the diet. A majority of the owners in the study also reported that their cats’ general affectionate behaviors increased during the dieting period.
The bottom line? Your dieting cat might get a little more insistent around mealtimes, but you don’t have to worry about your cat being mad at you for putting him on a diet!