Dietary water can decrease energy density, add weight to a diet making it more filling, and be added in high amounts without
impacting a diet's palatability or digestibility. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Davis examined
the effects of water content on food intake, energy intake, and body weight and composition in cats.
WHAT THEY DID
Ten young and healthy intact male cats were included in the water content study, and an additional six cats underwent palatability
The cats were divided into two groups—one was fed a wet diet (a commercially available canned food), while the other was fed
a dry diet (made by freeze-drying the wet version) for a three-week period.
The six research cats that underwent palatability testing were offered two diets simultaneously, and their consumption and
preferences were recorded. These tests were repeated multiple times, comparing various wet diets, freeze-dried diets, and
the control dry diet.
WHAT THEY FOUND
For the water consumption aspect of the study, consumption of the wet diet was associated with a decrease in body weight.
The reduction was small but significant, especially considering that there was no difference in body weight when the cats
were fed either the freeze-dried or control diet after the two month pre-study period or at the completion of the washout
period. Body composition, on the other hand, remained constant during the various trials.
In terms of palatability, the six cats greatly preferred the wet diets to either the control or freeze-dried diets, which
These findings suggest that body weight can be reduced in cats by feeding wet diets, producing a voluntary reduction in energy
intake. These diets have been shown in this and other studies to be highly palatable, and there is no risk of decreased nutritional
content or digestibility, which can occur by bulking up diets with fiber.
The diets compared in this study had identical nutritional compositions, so study results may not translate directly to other
dry and canned cat foods. Yet the results are promising, and continued research involving a broader representation of the
cat population at risk of becoming obese or cats that are already obese is suggested.
Wei A, Fascetti AJ, Villaverde C, et al. Effect of water content in a canned food on voluntary food intake and body weight
in cats. Am J Vet Res 2011;72(7):918-923.
Link to abstract: http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/ajvr.72.7.918