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You might have a hard time getting your kids to eat their veggies. But given a choice between junk food and something that’s good for them, cats will choose the food with the correct amount of nutrients, no matter how the food tastes.
That’s the conclusion of a study done by scientists at the WALTHAM Centre of Pet Nutrition, Mars Petcare and the University of Sydney. The study was published in June in Royal Society Open Science.
Scientists have known for some time that insects, birds, fish and other mammals are able to balance and regulate the intake of many nutrients, including protein, fat and carbs, by adjusting their intake of foods available to them, the study says.
But what about cats? Experts have long thought they choose their food based on smell, texture and taste. But that theory could be headed for the trashcan, along with all the food our cats completely ignore or flatly refuse to eat.
The cats in the study ate food made into a porridge-like consistency. It tasted and smelled like either fish, chicken, rabbit or orange.
For the first few days, the cats did base their decisions on taste and smell. Most of them went for the fish. But then, nutritional needs took over, and they chose the food that had the exactly correct protein/fat ratio, even if it tasted like orange.
That’s something to think about when your vet recommends a low-protein “kidney diet,” which your cat won’t touch, or you put your cat on low-fat “diet food” to slim him down a bit.
Just so you know, cats convert fat to energy. It’s the carbs in dry food that really pack on the pounds.
The study could have implications for the pet food industry as it develops new products. But in the meantime, you can do your part by paying attention to the percent of protein and fat in your cat’s wet food.. Look for wet food that’s about 40 percent protein from animal sources (not rice, pasta or vegetables) and less than 50 percent fat.
Of course, there’s still no guarantee your cats will approve of the first cans of food you open, even if they do the contain the perfect protein/fat ratio. At the moment, I’m looking a several bowls of perfectly balanced wet food that hasn’t been touched.
Cats love Tiki Cat Salmon, and
it has the
correct ratio of protein to fat.