Some people are saying their cats prefer cheap food to expensive. Here is a recent comment from a forum:
I spend lots of money getting the good food with no nastiness in it, and they eat it fine. Anyhow, was given some free food, its one of those main brands, wiskas or something, anyhow – it’s crap, mostly corn and byproduct and whatever… but damn, my cats are going flocking nuts over it – you’d think they haven’t eaten in weeks.
Why is this? Most regular cat food has a great deal of grain in it to bulk it out. Thinking about it simplistically you would think that cats would much prefer premium cat food containing a higher ratio of fat.
Human junk food is different. The more fat the better. What’s more it’s loaded with salt and sugar to increase the taste and make it addictive. Getting just the right combination of fat, sugar and salt it becomes irresistible, however poor nutritionally.
Is there something similar done with cheap cat food? As one person suggested “is it sprayed with some magic ingredient to make it tastier?”
In a kind of way it is, but its not that simple. The Pet Food industry in the US has a turnover of $47billion a year. They spend vast sums researching the taste of food. They even study how much YOU like the smell which they consider is one of the most important things about the food. Seems odd that how it smells to you is as important as how you it tastes to your cat. Here is a recent headline from Pet Food Industry .com:
New findings range from combining good taste for pets with pleasant smells for owners to understanding the biology of how pets experience their food
The article goes on to say (in typical industry jargon):
For example, neural imaging and recording techniques have demonstrated that “flavor” is a central percept requiring inputs from multiple orosensory modalities … …Other examples include operant testing systems, which teach animals to associate a taste or odor with a reward and are used to determine whether animals can detect or discriminate sensory stimuli such as specific taste or aroma compounds, and facial reactivity and behavioral analysis techniques, which are being used in palatability research with rodents, human infants and cats.
They have to speak like that because they would not want you to know what they are talking about. The fact is they are spending a fortune building a taste into cat food that your cat will (they hope) find irresistible. The moral of this story?
Don’t think that how cheap or expensive your cat food is has anything to do with its tastiness. It is quite possible that the cheapest and least nutritious on the market has the most appealing taste.
Has your cat got a hang-up about one particular brand of food? We would love to know…