Why Is Palatability Important?
Even if a cat food is formulated to provide all of the essential nutrients, it is of little value if the cat won’t eat it. Quality cat foods are carefully formulated not only to be highly nutritious, but to be highly palatable as well.
What Is Palatability?
Palatability is a term used to describe how well a cat likes the taste, smell, and texture of a food. A premium pet food manufacturer spends a considerable amount of time conducting controlled feeding studies to determine the right combination of ingredients and processing techniques to produce a nutritious, palatable food.
How Is Palatability Measured?
There are two ways to test and measure the palatability of cat food:
First bite: The first palatability test is called the first bite preference, and measures the cat's first impression of a food's aroma and appearance.
Total volume: Because the novelty of a new diet can cause highs and lows in first bite tests, a second test, the total volume measurement, is conducted. Total volume determines the staying power, or ability of a diet to maintain the animal's interest over time. This is the cat's overall choice of food based on taste, texture, and nutrition for the entire test period.
How Are Palatability Feeding Studies Conducted?
In order to obtain and interpret accurate results, palatability studies must be performed by experienced animal technicians, with data analyzed by research nutritionists. Feeding studies are conducted by offering an animal two bowls of food at the same time. Each bowl contains a different diet that has been carefully weighed and recorded.
The technician observes which food the animal chooses to eat first, then records that as the first bite preference. After a specific time period, bowls are removed and any remaining food is weighed and recorded. Diets are also switched from left to right each day of the study to ensure that animals are not eating one diet simply out of habit.
The total volume measurement is determined by calculating the difference between the beginning and ending weights of each food. This procedure is repeated using the same two diets with the same group of dogs or cats for five days. At the end of the five-day study, all observations and data are compiled and analyzed to determine the overall palatability of each diet.
What Affects Palatability of Cat Foods?
Cats are attracted by not only the taste of a food, but also by the sight, aroma, and texture. Cats can be very particular about the shape and size of dry food kibbles and also prefer a food with an acidic taste.
What Is Liquid Digest and How Does It Affect Palatability?
Liquid digest is simply protein that is enzymatically broken down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. The enzymatic process reduces large protein pieces to smaller protein pieces and free amino acids. By adding small amounts of acid, the enzymatic or digestive reaction is stopped, and a stable liquid ingredient is produced. After a dry food formula is cooked, formed into kibbles, and dried, the liquid digest is sprayed evenly on the outside of the dry kibbles. This is called enrobing. Not only does the liquid digest make the food highly palatable, but it also adds to the overall digestibility of the food.
Is Liquid Digest a Good Palatability Enhancer?
Yes. We use liquid digest made from chicken to enhance the palatability of dry foods and to contribute to the nutritional value of the diet. Some pet foods include flavor enhancers, such as onion powder, which simply mask the aroma and taste of the ingredients and provide no nutritional benefits to the animal.
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This article is part of a series on how to spot signs of a healthy cat. You can learn more about the key signs here.
Cats don’t lack personality; that’s for sure. They can be shy, outgoing, snuggly, independent, energetic, relaxed and everything in between. Yet some breeds tend to exhibit certain traits more strongly than others. Here are our picks for what we’re calling the Cat Personality Awards.
The friendliest cat breed:
This larger cat has a big heart to match. They’re often very social and happy to chat with you, whether they’re curled up on your lap or following you around the house. They make excellent family pets because more family members means more people to snuggle and play with.
Also outgoing: Ragdoll, Siamese, Burmese
The most laid-back cat breed:
Gentle and calm, this soft and silky-furred feline is friendly without being demanding. Ragdolls are usually totally cool sharing a house with other pets and kids. They don’t stress much about routine changes or even being carried around. Their motto? It’s all good.
Other cool kitties: Scottish fold, Birman, British shorthair
The most playful cat breed:
Making up around 90% of cats in the U.S., with more than 80 colors and patterns, domestic shorthairs are a melting pot of different breeds. They were originally working cats used to hunt mice and other critters on farms. They still love to stalk, hunt and pounce on toys and play games with their owners — so expect to spend lots of energetic playtime together.
Also ready to play: Siamese, Maine coon, Manx
The most independent cat breed:
This popular breed has been around humans since the 1600s, but is satisfied doing its own thing. Gentle, docile and quiet, Persian cats don’t insist on a lot of attention. They’re just as content sitting on your lap or observing what’s going on by themselves from a sunny perch across the room. They can be discerning in who they give their affection to, but you’ll be on their good side once you earn their trust.
Also fine on their own: Russian blue, American shorthair, Norwegian Forest cat
The most trainable cat breed:
The idea of training a cat may seem hilarious, but the curiosity and intelligence of Abyssinians make them highly trainable. Some can even be taught tricks or to walk on a leash and harness. Training and playing games are perfect ways to direct their affectionate energy.
Also eager to learn: Bengal, Siamese, American shorthair
The cleanest cat breed:
Owning this affectionate, hairless breed means you can spend more time cuddling and less time lint-rolling your clothes. They do require regular baths, but that just means more time to hang out together.
Other neat freaks: Siamese, Russian blue
The best cat for first-time owners:
it’s a toss-up!
Thinking of getting your first kitty? It’s hard to pick just one breed, so we’ve got three:
- Maine coons are super friendly and charming, and adapt well in a variety of living situations.
- Siamese are clean, love to talk and are very loyal.
- American shorthairs are smart, playful and independent.
Remember, most cats — especially those found in shelters — are a mix of breeds, which just means they often combine the best of all cat personality traits! Whatever personality you’re looking for in a cat, you’ll know it when you find your fuzzy soulmate.
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