• energy density;
  • cats;
  • body mass;
  • food intake;
  • caloric restriction;
  • digestibility;
  • physical activity;
  • diet


Caloric restriction induces body mass loss that is often regained when restriction ends. This study aimed to determine if dietary energy density modulates the extent of post-restriction body mass regain. Water (20% wt:wt) was added to a standard dry commercially available feline diet. Twenty-seven domestic short-haired cats underwent a 20% caloric restriction on this diet. Following restriction, cats were offered the same dry diet ad libitum either without additional water or with 40% added water, therefore maintaining macronutrient composition whilst manipulating energy density. Despite no significant difference in energy intake during ad libitum consumption, post-restriction body mass regain was greater on the high energy dense (0% hydrated), compared to the low energy dense (40% hydrated) diet. The same protocol was repeated with a separate cohort of 19 cats with additional measures of physical activity, gut transit time and energy digestibility. Activity levels on the low energy dense diet were significantly higher than in cats on the high energy dense diet (p = 0.030) and were similar to those recorded during caloric restriction. These results suggest that body mass gain following caloric restriction is ameliorated, and physical activity enhanced, by feeding a diet which is low in energy density due to the addition of 40% water.