During the winter months, many people eat more than they normally would (and pack on a few extra pounds). After all, the season is loaded with get-togethers with family and friends where food is a huge focus. But what about cats? When the days become shorter and the temperature begins to drop, you might notice your cat is a little hungrier than they used to be. Many cats do in fact need to eat more during the winter. It's something many cat owners have noticed and there's even an academic study to back it up. Read on to learn exactly what's going on with your cat's appetite when the weather outside is frightful.
The University of Liverpool's School of Veterinary Science in combination with the Royal Canine Research Centre conducted a study on cats' eating habits and discovered that cats' appetites increased during the colder winter months and decreased by as much as 15 percent during the summer. Why would that be? When the weather is colder, your cat's body uses more energy to maintain its temperature. This energy doesn't come from nowhere. To create it, your cats needs more food to use as fuel. In the summer, when cats tend to nap away the hot days, their need for food (and the energy that comes with it) decreases.
Wait, what about indoor cats? Good question. Cats that live indoors – that is, in temperature-controlled environments – have appetites that are affected by the seasons as well. It's a surprising fact, but experts think this is because indoor cats still experience less natural light in these months. These shorter, darker winter days, even if experienced from the warm side of a window, can trigger the same metabolic response. So an indoor-only cat might experience the same increase of appetite as a cat braving the harsher weather in the great outdoors.
So should you let your cat stuff itself during the winter? It's always best to talk to your vet before making any significant changes to your cat's diet. But in general, it's perfectly normal for your cat to eat more during colder weather (so don't hold back on the cat treats).
By Jay Matthews
About the Author
Jay Matthews has been writing professionally for over a decade. He's been an animal lover for even longer. When he's not creating articles or copywriting, he's slowly chipping away at a science fiction novel. He lives with his family and their cat Koko in Los Angeles.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.