Pet Food News Pet Food Palatability

Wet, dry cat food study links diet preference to nutrient intake

New research from an experiment with wet and dry cat foods may explain the reason some cats are so picky about their petfood.

The study, published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology B, offered different petfood options to cats. When given the choice, cats selected a mixture of wet and dry foods that provided them with a consistent intake of protein, fat and carbohydrates in their diet.

Cats in the experiment were offered a combination of wet and dry foods: one wet and three dry, one dry and three wet, and three wet and three dry. The food choices were offered first all at once, and then in a three-day cycle.

In all trials of the experiment, cats selected foods that provided close to 52 percent calorie intake from protein, 36 percent from fat and 12 percent from carbohydrates. The study's authors noted that the cats' choice of foods was similar to what has been observed about feral cats' diet choices in other studies, indicating that house cats may have retained an instinctual ideal diet from their wild ancestors. In fact, the only major difference observed in the study was that feral cats have been previously observed to consume about 2 percent of their calories from carbohydrates; however, the study's authors noted this may be due to the formulation of the petfoods used.

"This research has important implications for owners as it shows that cats are able to select and combine wet and dry foods to achieve their target intake of protein, fat and carbohydrate,” said lead author, Adrian Hewson-Hughes of the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition. “In terms of products currently on the market, wet foods typically have higher proportions of protein and fat, while dry foods have a higher carbohydrate content."