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Why Do My Cats Prefer Cheap Cat Food Best?

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.

why does my cat prefer cheap cat food

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…

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  1. i have 3 cats, i have tried them with most catfoods,the one they prefer is felix as good as it looks. they wont look at the ones that are shaped like small blocks. its got to be ( as good as it looks ) or nothing.

    • When I first homed my cat – the rescue centre said – she has go-kat in the morning and whiskas at night – well I was soon throwing bowls of it away – she obviously didnt like it we tried all sorts – finally settled on whiskas pouches but had to be fillets and had to be jelly not gravy. Then one day I received a sample via the post-of gourmet chefs recipes – and now she eats everything from that selection – and licks her bowl – and she has the purina one as the dry food – I only give her one pouch a day of chefs recipes BUT she d have more – but have to watch her weight

    • My cat eats exactly the same and turns his nose up to anything else!

  2. its Aldi and its Vitacat range for my cat. makes him happy and purring, his coat looks shiny and luckily is so friendly to my budget! i love my cat!

    • My name is Harry, I live with my family by the sea. I have just changed my tinned food to Aldi Vitacat and although I’m 10 or 11 years old I really feel very frisky and tear about like a cat “on” somthing, I wonder if it’s had the same effect on any other of you cats out there. Another result has been my ability to use the computer!

  3. I have 20 cats. Not one of them would anything but Purina Cat Chow, which had become an expensive tasts. Fortunately, Tractor Supply has the Paws and Claws blue bag, (which is also purina cat chow and still cheaper, go figure). That is ALL any of them will eat and I have tried cheaper and more expensive foods.

  4. My oldest cat is 19 y/o and always has been finicky. Now, he won’t eat anything that is not treats. I bought a fairly good cat food and he ate it very well then resorted to kitty chow and treats. I can’t find the cheapest foods and don’t know what they are. I am getting him to drink water but it is sugar water. I know his kidneys are failing and am so worried. Any advice would be welcome.

    • Myra, if my cat was 19 years old I would let him eat whatever he liked – that is a fantastic age to live to. You won’t have him much longer, sadly, so make his life and yours the best you can while you can.

    • Cat

      I just ordered ‘Animal Essentials Fish Oil Plus for Dogs and Cats’ from Amazon. Supplements have done wonders for me, I hope they work for my cats. I’ll just make them swallow the pills if they don’t like it.

  5. Regarding ‘wet’ food, my cat does not like anything with meat, chicken, egg, cheese in it. However she does love all types of seafood, preferably with a soft texture as opposed to a solid texture. She enjoys her ‘dry’ food in a separate bowl but will occasionally accept it mixed in her food. I try to buy her the ‘middle of the road’ in price – neither of us like the smell of the really cheap stuff!!

  6. I have 6 cats and they eat Whiskas Dry and won’t eat anything else. After I read a bit about Purina products a while ago I was so disgusted that I would never buy their food. I don’t know if what I am feeding them is any better but according to what I have looked up it is better. they love it anyway. They also get treats like canned tuna and stuff like that now and then. They don’t like any kind of wet cat food.

  7. I ran out of blue buffalo wilderness cat food and picked up some cheap fancy feast to hold her over. Unfortunately, she won’t touch the canned blue buffalo anymore. Not quite sure what to do because I don’t want her eating dry all the time and I don’t want her eating that cheap grocery store garbage cat foos either.

    • Hey! We give ours Blue Buffalo as well. You should read my comment about switching them from cheap to expensive.

  8. Tabby Olivia (will be 4 this August) used to eat the Meow Mix Toppers until we got a couple of bad ones. I had to give her canned tuna and she literally became addicted. She won’t touch anything but seafood (trust me, I have tried) and no 9 Lives or Friskies etc. then I heard about trader Joe’s Tuna for cats. She eats a whole can every day (we call it Tabby’s Tuna). It is good quality, reasonably priced, with the vitamins etc. she needs. It got her off the human tuna, except I can’t open a can because the smell drives her wild. She also eats Meow Mix tender center dry in whitefish. Thing is, I have to be sure and live where there is a Trader Joe’s.

  9. We had a HARD time getting ours cats to switch from the cheap cat food (PURINA INDOOR CAT CHOW) that you can buy anywhere to the BLUE BUFFALO WILDERNESS DUCK RECIPE GRAIN-FREE dry cat food.
    We used to get the huge cat food bags for $12.00, now we are buying a bag half that size for around $40.00.

    ANYWAY! I just want to let you all know, even though the preferred the cheap food… After a few months on the expensive kind I noticed a huge difference in our cats’ behavior. ESPECIALLY our older cat.
    They seemed so much happier! Crazier! LOL I mean they would chase each other back and forth between rooms and go crazy on their cat trees. It was an awesome difference in their behavior because they just seemed soooo much happier!

    It was really hard to switch.. You wanna make your babies happy and give them the food that they prefer, but stick with it! Eventually they will get used to the taste, and I hope that you will notice that difference too.

    They went from being lazy kitties who to crazy kitties, happy kitties!!

    After feeling guilty for giving them something that they acted like they hated, I am now very happy that we did make the switch!!

  10. I took on an abandoned cat in the UK and she was so fussy with her food. She only ate one or two mouthfuls of anything I gave her, but only if it was in gravy. She wouldn’t even look at food in jelly. She wouldn’t eat any type of biscuits. Then I came across Aldi’s Vita Cat meat selection in gravy and she loves it. And the price suited my pocket as well. Then I moved to Spain and she wouldn’t eat any of the cat food, but she did take to one brand of biscuits. Now we have to import her wet cat food from Aldi’s in the UK. Working out costly.

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