How do I choose between wet or dry cat foods?
When it comes to cat food products, the abundance of choice can be dazzling. Add in the variable information displayed on pet food labels and marketing materials and it becomes difficult to know where to start when trying to make the right nutritional choice for your feline companion.
What do cats need in their diet?
We all know that cats are unique, but so too are their dietary needs. Every cat must obtain a total of 41 essential micronutrients from their food every day. They are called essential, because they cannot be manufactured in the body and they are necessary for normal healthy function. A proportion of these nutrients must also derive from animal sources, as cats are obligate carnivores. This means that cats cannot be fed a vegetarian diet and survive without malnutrition problems. Specifically, cats have to obtain the amino acids taurine and arginine, plus the fatty acid arachidonic acid, as well as pre-formed vitamin A. These can all be found in animal-based ingredients.
What drives food appeal in cats?
When it comes to food our feline friends are hugely driven by palatability. Smell is a very important element of this and essential to stimulating appetite. It gives pleasure and enhances enjoyment of food, whilst at the same time providing nutritional information.
Taste is another vital part of palatability. Although cats have far fewer taste buds (475) than either humans (9000) or dogs (1700), they do have some interesting quirks. A cat’s sensitivity to bitter tastes, for example, is 400 times greater than a dog’s, but they lack the taste buds to be able to enjoy sweet flavours!
Texture and the actual shape of an item in the mouth are the final elements of palatability – and these are particularly motivating for cats when it comes to choosing their food.