Geometric analysis of macronutrient selection in the adult domestic cat, Felis catus

J Exp Biol. 2011 Mar 15;214(Pt 6):1039-51. doi: 10.1242/jeb.049429.


We report feeding studies on adult domestic cats designed to disentangle the complex interactions among dietary protein, fat and carbohydrate in the control of intake. Using geometric techniques that combine mixture triangles and intake plots from the geometric framework, we: (1) demonstrate that cats balance their macronutrient intake, (2) estimate the composition of the target balance and (3) reveal the priorities given to different macronutrients under dietary conditions where the target is unachievable. Our analysis indicates that cats have a ceiling for carbohydrate intake, which limits ingestion and constrains them to deficits in protein and fat intake (relative to their target) on high-carbohydrate foods. Finally, we reanalyse data from a previous experiment that claimed that kittens failed to regulate protein intake, and show that, in fact, they did. These results not only add to the growing appreciation that carnivores, like herbivores and omnivores, regulate macronutrient intake, they also have important implications for designing feeding regimens for companion animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / physiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Dietary Fats / analysis
  • Dietary Proteins / analysis
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology*
  • Food*
  • Male


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins