September 26, 2013

How feline physiology can drive cat food preference

Author: Kris Figge

Because cat’s jaws lack molars and lateral movement, cats can’t grind their food—making food texture and crushability important to the feeding experience. At AFB International, we suspected that when cats are finicky eaters, this physiology may be a contributing factor.

We wondered: If one food breaks down more easily and into smaller particles than another, would cats prefer the former? So AFB researchers put that question to the test at our Lovejoy Resource Center  in St. Charles, Mo., comparing two uncoated disc-shaped kibbles varying only in their meal processing: one ground once (control), the other twice.

The meal that was ground twice resulted in kibble with smaller particle size, though with little texture difference. The control kibble split in half, but the double-ground kibble broke into multiple, smaller pieces and with less force—suggesting cats could eat it with greater ease.

The results in a standard two-bowl test supported that theory: The double-ground kibble showed significant palatability improvement over the single-ground control. We confirmed the results with a second study that yielded very similar results for consumption ratio, intake ratio, first choice and preference.

During the kibble extrusion, we also found some interesting changes in processing parameters. The kibble made with double-ground meal used significantly less steam and water in the pre-conditioner to achieve the same gelatinization and required less dryer heat, among other economies.

These results offer important insights for the pet food industry in terms of cat food palatability, as well as related costs of key processing parameters. To get the details, review AFB’s full study results in our free download Meal Particle Size and its Effect on Feline Palatability, Processing Parameters and Texture.


Tags: Lovejoy, Cats,