Original Paper

Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 183, Issue 4, pp 525-536

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Consistent proportional macronutrient intake selected by adult domestic cats (Felis catus) despite variations in macronutrient and moisture content of foods offered

  • Adrian K. Hewson-HughesAffiliated withWALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition Email author 
  • , Victoria L. Hewson-HughesAffiliated withWALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition
  • , Alison ColyerAffiliated withWALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition
  • , Andrew T. MillerAffiliated withWALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition
  • , Simon R. HallAffiliated withWALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition
  • , David RaubenheimerAffiliated withInstitute of Natural Sciences, Massey University
  • , Stephen J. SimpsonAffiliated withSchool of Biological Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney


We investigated the ability of domestic cats to regulate the macronutrient composition of their diet when provided with foods that differed not only in macronutrient content but also in texture and moisture content, as typically found in the main forms of commercially manufactured cat foods. Cats were provided with foods in different combinations (1 wet + 3 dry; 1 dry + 3 wet; 3 wet + 3 dry) in three separate experiments. Within each experiment cats were offered the wet and dry food combinations in two (naïve and experienced) diet selection phases where all the foods were offered simultaneously, separated by a phase in which the foods were offered sequentially in 3-day cycles in pairs (1 wet with 1 dry). Using nutritional geometry we demonstrate convergence upon the same dietary macronutrient composition in the naïve and experienced self-selection phases of each experiment as well as over the course of the 3-day cycles in the pair-wise choice phase of each experiment. Furthermore, even though the dietary options were very different in each of these experiments the macronutrient composition of the diets achieved across all experiments were remarkably similar. These results indicate that a mammalian obligate carnivore, the domestic cat, is able to regulate food selection and intake to balance macronutrient intake despite differences in moisture content and textural properties of the foods provided.


Macronutrient regulation Nutritional geometry Right-angled mixture triangles Carnivore nutrition Domestic cat