To replicate a previously defined behavioral procedure to acclimate adult cats to temporary restriction in indirect calorimetry chambers and measure energy expenditure and respiratory quotient changes during acclimation.
8 healthy adult cats (4 spayed females, and 4 neutered males; mean ± SEM age, 2.5 ± 1.5 years; mean body weight, 4.8 ± 1.8 kg).
Cats underwent a 13-week incremental acclimation procedure whereby cats were acclimated to the chambers in their home environment (weeks 1 to 3), to the study room (weeks 4 to 6), and to increasing lengths of restriction within their home environment (weeks 7 to 8) and the chambers (weeks 9 to 13). Cat stress score, respiratory rate, fearfulness (assessed with a novel object test), energy expenditure, and respiratory quotient were measured. Data were analyzed by use of a repeated-measures mixed model.
Stress, based on cat stress scores, fearfulness, and respiration, peaked at weeks 4, 9, and 10 but returned to baseline levels by week 11. Energy expenditure and respiratory quotient peaked at weeks 10 and 11, respectively, but were reduced significantly by weeks 11 and 13, respectively. All cats returned to baseline by the end of the study and were deemed fully acclimated.
Changes in perceived stress level, energy expenditure, and respiratory quotient at various stages of the acclimation procedure suggest that stress should be considered a significant variable in energy balance measurements when indirect calorimetry is used in cats. An incremental acclimation procedure should therefore be used to prepare cats for the temporary space restriction necessary for indirect calorimetry studies.