We're sure that just like us, all cat parents must be intrigued (or irritated?) by their kitty's habit of picking at his food. In fact, humans will probably never be able to understand the bizarre choices of their feline companions... They'll reject the leftovers from your delicious meal, only to feast on cheap biscuits and tins of cat food which absolutely reek!
British and Australian scientists have recently made a bit of a breakthrough with this mystery. The study, published in the Royal Society Open Science review, showed that it's not just to be difficult that your cat is picky with his food.
The main finding of their research is that cats judge food primarily based upon its nutritional balance and not upon its flavour, texture or odour. You may well wonder how they came to this conclusion...
The researchers conducted an experiment in two stages: first, they presented a group of cats with three dishes with different smells (fish, rabbit and orange) but the same nutritional values.
In this case, most cats went for the fish dish, some chose the rabbit, and none of them chose orange. All dishes had the same nutritional value, so the cats went for the one which tasted best.
For the second experiment, the researchers changed the ratio of proteins to lipids in each dish. One of them was made up mainly of lipids, the other mainly proteins, and the last had an equal mix of the two.
This time, the cats chose the least fatty dish containing the most protein, no matter what the flavour (yes, even the orange one!). Proof that for cats, the nutritional value of food is more important than its taste.
This would explain why cats have a habit of "studying" their food before eating it! (Or not, as the case may be...)