Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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What your pets really like to eat

spaghetti cat

Photo by TessOlivia via Flickr. 

Although dogs and cats are both carnivores, they have surprisingly different appetites for food.

In a study published last month, researchers at Oregon State University examined what our beloved pets really like to eat. Their results, published last month in the Journal of Experimental Biology, were rather surprising: dogs showed preference towards foods high in fats (41% fat, 36% carbohydrates) whereas cats preferred foods high in carbohydrates (43% carbohydrates, 30% proteins). This is a really interesting finding as all diets offered to the animals were designed to taste equally good. Going to the pet store, one would think cats only eat meat. On the contrary, neither dogs nor cats in the study chose diets high in proteins. While proteins are certainly filling, carbohydrates are second best, followed lastly by fats. According to study author Hall, in a quote from ScienceDaily, “Previous studies have shown that if you don’t balance palatability between foods, cats do in fact prefer to eat very high levels of protein and dogs want to eat a lot of fat. When you balance palatability, both dogs and cats prefer significantly different macronutrient content than what they would choose based on taste.”

Exceptions were younger cats, which preferred diets with higher protein content. Younger dogs did not prefer high protein diets. Rather, only the dogs with more body fat preferred diets high in proteins.

I think the pet food industry would want to know about this particular “taste test”. Maybe this is why cat owners sometimes complain about their finicky felines.


Science Daily

Hall JA, Vondran JC, Vanchina MA, Jewell DE. When fed foods with similar palatability, healthy adult dogs and cats choose different macronutrient compositions. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 2018; jeb.173450 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.173450

Categories: Diet and Exercise, Feline, Pets

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