Picky cats and tasty food – sniffing is an indicator for tastiness

Picky cats and tasty food – sniffing is an indicator for tastiness

Posted by Olga Krips on Thu 20 Nov. 2014

Picky cats

Any cat owner will acknowledge the fact that cats can be extremely stubborn. They let you hear loud and clear that they want to come in, but when you open the door, they just sit at the doorstep and stare at you. And they can be extremely picky when it comes to food. If the cat doesn’t like it, it will refuse to eat. Reason enough for the pet food industry to try to find out what cats really like.

Testing food tastiness

Traditionally, the palatability of cat food is assessed by looking at consumption. Cats generally are given the choice between two types of food that are offered simultaneously during a couple of hours. These tests are a bit like a black box, the actual cause of preference remains unknown. Furthermore, it is unclear what the food intake will be when cats have no choice.

Cat behavior

Aurélie Becques and colleagues (2014) studied food preference of cats in more detail. They followed the cats for two days in a no-choice situation with either tasty or unpalatable food. They recorded the cat behavior on video and analyzed it with The Observer XT annotation software.









FREE TRIAL: Try The Observer XT yourself!

Request a free trial and see for yourself how easy behavioral research can be!

  • Work faster
  • Reduce costs
  • Get better data


Sniffing and tastiness

As expected, the cats ate more from the tasty food than from the unpalatable food. The consumption speed was not different for the two types of food, the cats just ate longer from the tasty food than from the unpalatable food. The cats spent more time sniffing the unpalatable food than the tasty food. But this effect disappeared over time and the effect was opposite by the end of the second day. The cats then spent less time sniffing the unpalatable food than the tasty food. Do these arrogant cats just ignore the unpalatable food after a while?

Sniffing is a good indicator

The authors conclude that sniffing food, and especially the sniffing time during the first encounter with the food, is a good indicator for the tastiness. This offers possibilities to develop short term standard tests to assess the palatability of cat food. This way cat food can be made entirely according to the cats’ desires.

Reference

Becques, A., Larose, C., Baron, C., Niceron, C., Féron, C., & Gouat, P. (2014). Behaviour in order to evaluate the palatability of pet food in domestic cats. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 159, 55-61.

Subscribe to the blog
Share this post
Topics
Learn
more
Relevant Blogs
motor-functioning-mice

Walking the ladder: testing the cellular source of motor functioning in mice

The cerebellum, our “little brain”, is all about motor control; more specifically, it’s about coordination, precision, and timing.
resistance-pest-insects

High-throughput screening of plant lines for resistance to pest insects

The EthoGenomics project focused on screening for host plant resistance to insect pest species. Video tracking provides the possibility to scale up the screening method largely.
bank-voles-cross-generational-scent-behavior

How bank voles take the future into account

Bank voles are often exposed to predator odor and alarm pheromones. This perceived predation risk may cause cross-generational behavior changes, which seem to be context-dependent on their in utero exposure.