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Zoo Biol. 2010 Nov-Dec;29(6):676-86. doi: 10.1002/zoo.20305.

Influence of feeding raw or extruded feline diets on nutrient digestibility and nitrogen metabolism of African wildcats (Felis lybica).

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Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illnois 61801, USA.


The African wildcat is one of the closest ancestors to the domestic cat and is believed to have similar nutrient requirements, but research is lacking. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of feeding a high-protein extruded kibble diet vs. a raw meat diet on nutrient digestibility, nitrogen metabolism, and blood metabolite concentrations in African wildcats. Five wildcats were randomized onto either a high-protein (>50% crude protein) extruded kibble diet or a raw meat diet. The study was executed as a crossover design, with 21-d periods, consisting of a 16-d adaptation phase followed by a 4-d total fecal and urine collection phase. Cats were housed individually in metabolism cages and fed to maintain body weight (BW). A fresh fecal sample was collected for short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) and branched-chain fatty acid (BCFA) analyses. Blood was analyzed for serum chemistry and leptin concentration. Food intake (as is) did not differ (P>0.05) between diets. Food intake and fecal output (g/d DMB) were greater (P<0.05) when cats consumed the kibble diet. Protein digestibility was higher (P<0.05) when cats were fed the raw meat diet vs. the kibble diet. Nitrogen intake was greater (P<0.05) when cats consumed the kibble diet, and more (P<0.05) nitrogen was present in the feces; however, the percentage of nitrogen retained and nitrogen balance did not differ (P>0.05). Fecal scores, ammonia, SCFA, and BCFA concentrations did not differ (P>0.05) between diets. Fecal butyrate molar ratio was higher (P<0.01) when cats consumed the kibble diet. Blood analyses demonstrated few differences between diets, but alanine aminotransferase activity and bicarbonate were higher (P<0.05) when cats consumed the commercial raw meat diet. Owing to lack of differences, these data indicate that African wildcats can readily utilize a high protein extruded kibble diet, and may be able to replace a commercial raw meat diet.

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