By Dr. Becker
Recently, a large pet food manufacturer (Royal Canin) conducted a survey of U.S. cat owners. According to PetfoodIndustry.com, the purpose of the survey was “To dispel myths and better understand the relationship between cats and their owners.”
Of course, you and I know the real purpose of the survey is to use the information collected to create new products and generate new marketing campaigns that will appeal to cat-owning consumers.
Cat Owner Study Results
Some of the survey results are interesting, and I wanted to share them with readers here at Mercola Healthy Pets.
- Almost half (49 percent) of cat owners surveyed did zero research or information gathering before bringing their pet home. (Since I believe preparation is priceless, especially when it comes to caring for animals that depend on us, I’m not in favor of acquiring pets on impulse or before you know what you’re getting into.)
- 61 percent of survey responders selected a cat because they felt it would adapt easily to their lifestyle.
- 60 percent liked the fact that cats don’t need to be taken outside to relieve themselves.
- 55 percent of cat owners appreciate that kitties can be left alone for “long” periods of time.
- Many cat owners are not aware that felines spend significant amounts of time each day marking their territory, engaging in hunting activities, and hiding.
When it comes to choosing pet food:
- 16 percent of cat owners feed their pet based on its lifestyle, for example, whether the cat lives indoors or outdoors.
- 95 percent of owners of multiple cats feed them all the same food.
- Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of cat owners choose their pet’s food based on flavor, and 38 percent believe cats have a strong sense of taste. (Actually, cats have a weak sense of taste and are drawn by the smell and texture of food rather than its taste.)
- The majority of cat owners don’t consider their kitty’s weight or age when making decisions about what to feed.
- Interestingly, while 50 percent of cat owners report they think about their kitty’s health every day, 72 percent don’t factor it into decisions about what to feed their pet.
The Marketing Spin on These Survey Results
Based on these survey results, Royal Canin’s director of corporate affairs states in PetfoodIndustry.com that, "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.”
He then goes on to helpfully list which factors cat owners should consider: “Feeding cats a food suited to their age, lifestyle, specific sensitivities and breed contributes to the overall health and well-being of the cat."
The reality is that a cat fed balanced, species-appropriate nutrition will not require a special diet just because he’s older or lives outdoors part of the time (which I don’t recommend). As for specific food sensitivities, generally speaking, cats develop them by eating poor-quality, biologically inappropriate foods, and often those sensitivities disappear when they are transitioned to a more suitable diet.
As for breed-specific cat food, in my opinion it’s nothing more than a marketing gimmick to sell more cat food varieties. Pet food companies should concern themselves first and foremost with developing species-appropriate nutrition for pets. If the products they’re selling as food for cats and dogs aren’t appropriate nutrition for the SPECIES, what difference does it make whether a formula is BREED specific?
And in case you’re still not convinced the ultimate goal of pet food producers is to sell products, here’s Royal Canin’s director of corporate affairs on the topic of the importance of aroma and texture of cat 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.
“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."
The truth is, what’s important to consider when feeding your pet is the species-appropriateness of her diet. For healthy cats, that means whole, fresh nutrition consisting of about 88 percent meat, organs and bone, and 12 percent veggies – in other words, a diet rich in both the animal protein and moisture your kitty needs to thrive. As regular readers here know very well, dry food (kibble) is the absolute worst type of food you can feed your cat.