Nutrient digestibility, but not mineral absorption, is age-dependent in cats
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Availability of nutrients is influenced by extremes of age, and a better characterization of this influence is necessary for appropriate development of foods and nutritional management throughout life stages of cats. This study investigated nutrient digestibility, mineral absorption, faeces and urine production in three groups of six young, mature and old cats fed two diets containing different energy densities. Apparent digestibility and mineral absorption were calculated by total collection method and values were tested with ANOVA and regression analysis. A quadratic relationship was detected between age and digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, crude protein, acid-hydrolysed fat and starch in the low-energy diet. Starch digestibility showed the same response in the high-energy diet. Young adult cats had intermediate digestibility, mature cats the highest and old cats the lowest. Mineral absorption (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride) and urinary pH were not different among groups. These findings confirm previous studies that found low digestibility of nutrients in some old cats, and support evidence that this trend is even more important in less digestible dry foods. on the contrary, data suggest that mineral formulations do not need to be varied in diets for adult cats of different ages.
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