Do maintenance energy requirements of felids reflect their feeding strategies?


Allen ME, Oftedal OT, Earle KE, Seidensticker J, Vilarin L. 1995. Do maintenance energy requirements of felids reflect their feeding strategies?. In Proceedings of the First Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Scarborough, OT.


Maintenance energy (ME)requirements have been determined for the domestic cat, Felis silvestris catus, but not for larger felids. To determine if the domestic cat represents an appropriate model for studies with larger species, we measured digestive efficiency and digestible energy intakes in cats of different body sizes (body mass range: 15-195 kg)which included clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa (n = 9), cheetah, Acinonyxjubatus n = 6), Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae (n =4), lion, Panthera leo (n = 4)and Bengal/Siberian tiger, Panthera tigris tigris/Panthera tigris altaica (n = 2). Measurements were repeated seasonally. We found marked variation in crude protein (CP) and fat concentrations on a dry matter basis both among (44.9-57.7% CP; 22.2- 32% fat, n = 10) and within (48.7-59.1 % CP; 22.9-34.8% fat, n = 28) lots of one of the two commercial diets fed to cats. The apparent digestibility of dry matter, crude protein and energy of one frozen, meat- based diet did not differ among species or seasons. A second diet fed to some clouded leopards was less digestible. The ME intakes of tigers and cheetahs were considerably higher than was predicted based on that of the domestic cat, and when compared to those of lions and clouded leopards. The ME requirement of clouded leopards may be influenced by age. We hypothesize that the inter-specific differences reflect variation in metabolic rates and in energy expenditures which may be a consequence of different feeding strategies and predatory behaviors.

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