Do Cats Prefer More Nutritious Foods?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
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The more nutritious the food, the more satisfied the cat! For a well fed and happy kitty, choose more nutritious meals at mealtime.

Is your cat a picky eater? It turns out that the reason for this behavior might be that your finicky feline may only want the best and most nutritious food available. At least, that’s what researchers discovered about domesticated cats and the foods that they typically prefer.

How a Cat Chooses His Food

When given the option, cats may end up choosing foods that have greater nutritional value, regardless of the tastes and smells of all of the foods that they are presented with.

Here’s how the research went when experts, including scientists from Australia and the United Kingdom, decided to find out how factors like texture, taste, and smell will influence a cat’s food preferences. What these experts already knew, based upon prior research, is that kitties in the wild will naturally hunt down food that will provide the appropriate balance of macronutrients (protein and fat in the case of carnivorous felines).

They started by making three flavors of wet food for the kitties in the study (fish, rabbit, and orange flavored foods). The foods had roughly the same ratio of protein to fat, and they also had the same texture, which was a consistency similar to that of oatmeal.

Once they presented the cats with the three options, they noticed that all of the felines chose the foods in the same order: fish flavor, rabbit flavor, and orange flavor. For many cat parents, this might not sound all that surprising.

But There’s More…

As the experiment went on, the kitties starting choosing different foods based upon the nutritional value of the meals, rather than their flavor. In other words, as their bodies gave feedback on the nutritional value of the foods that they were eating, the cats began consuming more of the foods that would allow them to meet their nutritional needs better.

While their initial preferences were based upon flavor, once the kitties learned the nutritional composition of their food options, they chose those meals that provided the right balance of fat and protein, regardless of how the foods tasted. This is why some kitties started showing a preference for the orange-flavored meals, which had the correct ratio of protein to fat. The rabbit and fish meals, on the other hand, did not have the exact nutrient ratio that the cats knew was required.

Your Kitty’s Instinct for Good Food

The researchers concluded that when cats choose what foods to eat, they are influenced by macronutrient balancing. It appears that felines could receive important signals from their bodies both during and after a meal in order to determine the quality of the foods that they are eating. They can then use that information to choose the right type and amount of food that they need in the future.

If you thought that your kitty only based his food choices on things like texture and flavor, it might be worth considering that there may be more to it than that. Perhaps your kitty knows which foods are the most nutritious for his body, and that’s what plays a part in his pickiness at mealtime.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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