How do you know your cat likes his food?

Does your cat like his cat food?

Your cat eats his cat food without question. He or she gives you the impression that he likes it because he eats it. You decide that he likes his cat food. But does he? Are you sure? How do you know that he likes his food? There is a difference between eating a certain type of cat food and liking the cat food that you are eating.

If a cat is hungry enough he’d like pretty much any sort of food, even food that he’d not normally eat.  Also, if a cat was used to being given food that he did not particularly like he’d eat it and accept it when it is the only choice. He’d get used to it and be happy to get it, if the only source was the person giving it to him. When a cat has no choice to accept or reject what is provided (s)he accepts it. That does not make the food tasty or suitable.

You can put cat food down for a cat that he’ll reject but, after several hours, he will accept it. That is to be expected because hunger clicks in. This is an important test on the palatability of cat food.

What is the point of what I have stated? The point is this: we don’t know for sure if our cat finds his commercially manufactured cat food tasty.  Could it be more tasty? We don’t know the answer to that either. Here is a fine point: would cats find cat food tasty if it was more natural?

One thing I do know is that my cat prefers human food. He prefers cooked chicken and ham over cat food. He always looks up at the refrigerator when I am about to feed him, which is his signal, his request, for cooked chicken or ham from the fridge.

This indicates to me that the good quality cat food that I buy him is less appetising than human meat. Every cat is an individual. Some cats will be more accepting of commercial cat food. Sometimes a preference for human food will be because of conditioning (a form of training). Once again we are in the dark.

Commercial cat food is tasteless but for the flavoured jelly or gravy that surrounds the “cardboard” protein blocks. It contains preservatives and additives that can cause allergies.

There is a complacency amongst the majority of cat owners in respect of commercial cat food. You have no idea if your cat likes the food. A cat cannot communicate that information to you. Just eating it is not an indication that he likes it.

I would like to see frozen, raw (natural – without preservatives), commercially prepared cat food available at supermarkets to see if cats preferred something more natural.

I am sure that some cat food manufacturers use cats to taste test their products. We have no idea what the outcome is because using cats in laboratories is not good publicity for business.

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How do you know your cat likes his food? — 14 Comments

  1. We know what foods our cats enjoy because they refuse to eat anything they don’t like and we don’t leave it down until they are forced by hunger to eat, we give them something else.
    So now we know the foods they prefer and don’t buy the ones they don’t like.
    Jozef and Walter love cooked chicken so we buy some especially for them, because of course we don’t eat any with being veggie.
    They like a treat of cooked beef sometimes too but very rarely ham as it’s a very salty meat.
    We tried Jo on a raw diet when trying to find out his allergy but he totally refused to eat, I suppose both being twelve years old now they are used to wet convenience food.
    It is wrong that we humans have take away a cat’s natural diet, just one more thing our ‘progress’ has done to them.

  2. I like to always give my cats new things to try whilst giving them their usual foods – this process allows me to narrow down who likes what exactly. For example Molly likes Salmon Felix wet food. Lilly likes to always eat the same 4 Felix kinds – she is a creature of habit. Molly likes to try different things. Gigi loves Dreamies and will eat Felix if she has to. But for example today I brought them some roasted ham and I am right now giving them little bits being careful to not give them any fatty bits. Sometimes I bring them prawns – or other kinds of cold cuts – or smoke trout they seem to like. Molly loves to try anything new – she is Red’s sister 100% in that way. If something appears she’s right there giving it a sniff to check what it is just in the same way Red used to. Lilly loves these ‘other’ foods I bring each day according to which one is more fun to play with. She likes the ham because she can flick it around for about 45 minutes and then suddenly sometimes she scarfs it down but sometimes not. Trout is no fun to play with because it flakes apart. Same goes for tuna. Prawns hold together well under sustained attack, but smoked salmon is only good for a couple of flicks before it too flakes apart. To be fair it’s the farmed salmon which is more flakey because the poor fish don’t get to swim around much. Lilly prefers wild salmon, it holds better under fire and she gets something to chew on at the end 🙂

    • You do a very nice job in providing variety and discovering preferences. The thing is, bottom line, we don’t really know if our cat likes the food. Just eating it is not evidence that a cat likes it. It indicates the cat finds the food acceptable at least but not evidence that the cat likes it. Also I feel that cats get used to the food we provide. I feel we can do better.

      • I lived off school lunches and dinners for years and although by comparism I hated the food over normal food – after a couple months of being there I ‘liked’ the food because I was hungry.

        I think liking food relates to hunger and is somehow proportionate.

        The are certain things I like at certain times and at other times not.

        It seems more complicated once you start to analyse.

        • School food is really starchy, and you can get kind of addicted to starchy food, I think. You feel like crap after eating it, and then later you want more and even start to crave it. I wonder if this happens to our cats with high carb cat food. It’s really not good for them, but maybe they start to crave it too, as they gradually develop feline diabetes.

    • Monty loves salmon. I call it tuna. Every time he gets human grade fish I just call it tuna. He knows that word now. He will run inside for it, even if he’s obviously enjoying outside time and won’t come in for “treat”– he’ll come in when I say “tuna.”

  3. Laura has to keep our wet food in a clothes dryer that no longer works. Sammy breaks in to cabinets to get the packs if we don’t do that.

    It’s even easier to tell when a cat doesn’t like the food.We get stares that are a cross between “I hate you” and “what did I do wrong to have to eat THIS.”

    Ours will go on a hunger strike if they don’t like the food. We had a hard time finding a reasonably priced food that doesn’t give the cats diarrhea. That was the real chore.

    Sealy loves his Whiskas Purrfectly Fish, but doesn’t like the chicken flavor. Midnight loves the chicken flavor and won’t touch the fish. Kittens can’t eat the fish or they get sick so any stray kittens we feed have to have the chicken flavor.

    Furby is part Italian/Mexican. He loves spinach pizza and insists in sitting next to my plate helping me eat. Furby doesn’t understand the new diet the doctor put me on because it’s almost all raw veggies and raw fruit.

    The cats also like a bit of old fashioned oatmeal sweetened with raw honey. I think Sealy was an old man in a former life because he loves the stuff.

    Your next topic should be “how do you know your cats DON’T like their food.”

    • Your next topic should be “how do you know your cats DON’T like their food.”

      I think this is what we are better at. We know when a cat does not like his food because he walks away from it. However, he will come back in the end and eat it. We don’t know if a cat is either eating it because he is hungry or because he likes it. A person can tell you what he likes. We have to guess what our cat likes. There is no accurate way of knowing. We can’t be sure unless our cat goes nuts about it, which is what Charlie does with cooked chicken and ham (human food), which tells me he does not like cat food as much.

    • Monty eats the Purrfectly Fish or Purrfectly Chicken as well as Friskies in cans or pouches. He like the Gravy Sensations ones. If Michael is correct that the food itself is flavorless, then extra tasty gravy is a good thing! He purrs for those as well as for some of the fish flavors. And any human food I share with him on the corner of my breakfast tray, even just a little butter for his hair balls will make him purr like crazy. If I share it it’s got to be good, or maybe he just likes eating together.

        • He does seem to prefer human food, but usually if he gets human food he gets it next to me because we are sitting together and I am eating and I share with him. So does he like it for the taste or because he likes that I shared my food with him? Maybe he likes when we eat together.

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