Effects of photoperiod on food intake, activity and metabolic rate in adult neutered male cats

K. L. Kappen, L. M. Garner, K. R. Kerr, K. S. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the continued rise in feline obesity, novel weight management strategies are needed. To date, strategies aimed at altering physical activity, an important factor in weight maintenance, have been lacking. Photoperiod is known to cause physiological changes in seasonal mammals, including changes in body weight (BW) and reproductive status. Thus, our objective was to determine the effect of increased photoperiod (longer days) on voluntary physical activity levels, resting metabolic rate (RMR), food intake required to maintain BW, and fasting serum leptin and ghrelin concentrations in adult cats. Eleven healthy, adult, neutered, male domestic shorthair cats were used in a randomized crossover design study. During two 12-week periods, cats were exposed to either a short-day (SD) photoperiod of 8 h light: 16 h dark or a long-day (LD) photoperiod of 16 h light: 8 h dark. Cats were fed a commercial diet to maintain baseline BW. In addition to daily food intake and twice-weekly BW, RMR (via indirect calorimetry), body composition [via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)] and physical activity (via Actical activity monitors) were measured at week 0 and 12 of each period. Fasting serum leptin and ghrelin concentrations were measured at week 0, 6 and 12 of each period. Average hourly physical activity was greater (p = 0.008) in LD vs. SD cats (3770 vs. 3129 activity counts/h), which was primarily due to increased (p < 0.001) dark period activity (1188 vs. 710 activity counts/h). This corresponded to higher (p < 0.0001) daily metabolizable energy intake (mean over 12-week period: 196 vs. 187 kcal/day), and increased (p = 0.048) RMR in LD cats (9.02 vs. 8.37 kcal/h). Body composition, serum leptin and serum ghrelin were not altered by photoperiod. More research is needed to determine potential mechanisms by which these physiological changes occurred and how they may apply to weight management strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)958-967
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014


  • BMR
  • Body composition
  • Body weight
  • Feline
  • Food intake
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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