Royal Canin recently released the results of its nationwide US survey of cat owners to dispel myths and better understand the relationship between cats and their owners. The survey found that many pet owners lack knowledge on their cat's health, as nearly 50 percent said they think about their cat's health daily.
In fact, nearly three-quarters of cat owners (72 percent) don't consider their cat's health when selecting food for their pet. The survey also found others don't factor their cat's breed (93 percent), weight (65 percent) or age (52 percent) into their petfood decision-making process.
"Many cat owners don't consider about key health factors when selecting their cat's food, because they aren't sure which factors they should be considering," said Dr. Brent Mayabb, veterinarian and director of corporate affairs at Royal Canin. "Feeding cats a food suited to their age, lifestyle, specific sensitivities and breed contributes to the overall health and well-being of the cat."
Tastes were found to play a big role in cat food selection. Nearly two in five cat owners believe that cats have a strong sense of taste (38 percent). Royal Canin says this is likely why so many consider flavor (42 percent) when choosing a cat food, and 15 percent of owners admit to taste testing their cat's food.
"In truth, a cat's ability to taste isn't nearly as powerful as a human's ability, and aroma and texture play a much bigger role in how cats choose their food," said Dr. Mayabb. "It's important to consider the kibble texture, shape and size and especially food aromas when trying to pick a food your cat will like."
Although nearly all cat owners (95 percent) said they are confident that they are doing the best they can for their pet, nearly half (49 percent) did not gather any information or research before they brought their cat home.
"We understand the strong bond pet owners have with their cats, and one of the best ways to enhance that relationship is to learn more about them," said Dr. Mayabb. "Understanding a cat's physical and physiological traits is critical to not only finding the right fit for your family, but also in doing what's best for the cat's well-being once they are brought home."
Nearly 61 percent of cat owners selected a cat because it easily adapts to the owner's lifestyle, 60 percent chose a cat because they don't have to be walked or taken outside to go the bathroom, and 55 percent because cats can be left alone for longer periods of time.
However, the survey found many cat owners are uninformed of the typical cat lifestyle. A majority of cat owners were unaware that cats spend time each day marking their territory (73 percent), hunting (68 percent) and hiding (62 percent).
"By understanding how cats spend their day, we can enrich our cat's environment," said Steve Dale, certified animal behavior consultant and host of Steve Dale's Pet World radio show. "Simple things like creating lots of places for your cat to climb and scratch, or hiding food in toys throughout the house, allow your cat to 'hunt'-all improving the overall health and happiness of your pet."
New shelter data casts doubt on whether the pet population and pet ownership are truly growing.
While the pandemic caused unprecedented suffering worldwide in 2020, the disruptions to dogs, cats and other pets adoption numbers may normalize in 2021.