Feed your cat five times a day to keep it healthy, scientists recommend

Mimicking the way cats eat in the wild could make them happier and healthier

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The Independent Online

Cats would have healthier lifestyles if they were fed five or more small portions of food a day instead of less frequent bigger portions, according to a diet plan created by scientists.

The programme suggests that mimicking the way cats eat in the wild could change their behaviour and make them happier and healthier.

It encourages cats to climb, hunt, explore and play in the safety of their own home - activities which the experts say boost cats' positive behaviour and well-being.

Scientists working with The Big Bang Fair 2017 - a science and engineering fair for young people in Birmingham - claim cats' modern lifestyles could lead to pets not being mentally stimulated and eating too much food.

The change in diet could help address problems that owners may see in cats caused by feeding straight from packet to bowl, coupled with a lack of opportunity to interact with their environment.

The idea - dubbed the five a day Felix plan and created by Dr Sarah Ellis and Dr Lizzie Rowe - recommends giving cats five or more small portions of food a day, rather than feeding them fewer, bigger portions.

It also suggests using home-made puzzle feeders, changing food location regularly, monitoring behaviour and weight, and making sure they have plenty of water.

Dr Ellis, a feline behaviour specialist, 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 therefore have an instinctive need to hunt.

"This modern lifestyle could be dangerous to pets, but by making a few simple changes to the way we feed them, we can help our cats to live longer, healthier and happier lives.

"The plan, based on scientific evidence, helps every cat owner mimic the conditions cats would usually contend with to get their food."

:: The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair takes place from March 15-18 at The NEC in Birmingham.

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