Do Dogs and Cats get Bored eating the same food all the time?

My family and I have just got home from a well needed, and very much enjoyed, holiday. One thing that always puzzles me is why holidays seem to go so fast? Anyway, we had loads of fun and in the process ate far too much food! That’s another of life’s mysteries: why does food always seem to taste better when you’re abroad? My theories centre around the fact that a) you don’t have to cook it yourself, b) you’re generally eating it in really nice surroundings with the sunshine warming your skin, and c) it tends to be different dishes to what you’d normally be picking from at home, which makes it all the more appealing.

So I’m sat relaxing after feeding the Underhill fur babies their regular gourmet delights when a random thought popped into my head (y’know, as they often do!): ‘I wonder if Cats and Dogs get bored of eating the same food all the time?’. With that thought still bouncing around in my bonce after 30 minutes or so, I decided to find out. I switched on my laptop and began to do some digging around on t’interweb – just call me Sherlock Underhill 🙂

One of the first things I came across was related to taste buds……….

did you know that we humans have roughly nine thousand of them? Nope, me either. I knew we’d got more than cats or dogs, but I didn’t realise we had that many more! The figures for cats and dogs are (if you don’t know them) pretty shocking given what fantastic senses of smell they have. Dogs come in at about 1.7 thousand (1,700) whilst moggies are definitely the poor relation here, so to speak, with a measly 470 or thereabouts; poor kitty says me, looking at my much-loved puss.

Still recovering from this unexpected statistic, I carried on sleuthing. Cats and dogs only need six things nutritionally to survive: Water, Vitamins, Minerals, Protein, Carbohydrate and Fats. Bizarrely, both canines and felines can taste water; yep, you read that right, TASTE water.

Cats and dogs will have their own personal preferences when it comes to the taste and texture of their meals – a bit like us really when you think about it. I have mentioned this before in previous Karl’s Corner blogs, but will just mention it again; whilst Fido can have a vegetable-only diet, Kitty can’t. This is because cats are what we Veterinarians call ‘Obligate Carnivores’ which means that their bodies require meat to function properly. My own personal opinion on dogs’ diets is that they would naturally eat meat in the wild, so it makes sense to include it in their domestic environment.

Given the fact that cats tend to be regarded as more demanding and high maintenance than their canine counterparts, it will come as no surprise when I tell you that kitty is the habitually pickier eater of the two species. There are good reasons for this though; they’re not just being awkward! Despite them having the lesser amount of taste buds, the ones they have got are very particular: the sweet receptors are less than fantastic but the bitter-sensitive buds are highly sensitive, and the ones that respond to meat (and its fat within) are also excellent. Temperature also plays a part in how palatable puss finds their food; ideally they like it warmer, around the temperature that freshly killed prey would be (86-100F/30-37C). As if all the above didn’t make kitty discerning enough, your puss will also gravitate towards softer food and larger sized kibble; very good Sir or Madam!

There is a great variety on the market as to what you can feed your beloved fur-babies: dry complete kibble, wet tinned/pouch meat, frozen (defrost before feeding) raw food, or dehydrated/freeze-dried morsels. Experiment with what suits you, and them, best and rotate varieties within a brand every few months. If you change form one foodstuff to another, for example, dry complete to raw, then please introduce the change gradually over a couple of weeks.

Doing it slowly will reduce the likelihood of tummy and bowel upsets – you may well have to deal with increased flatulence, so avoiding vomit and diarrhoea is a definite bonus! Having said that, changing brands of dry kibble every few months can discourage kitty or fido developing allergies to any ingredients in a brand of food they may have eaten for a long time.

As with anything in life, always go for the best you can afford food-wise for your pet. The base ingredients will be better (less cereal filler, for one thing), the percentage of quality (animal derived) protein will be higher, and research will drive product development. At Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre we stock Virbac feeds and will happily advise you on these products; but if you want to discuss any aspect of your pets’ diet, then please don’t hesitate to contact one of the team. It goes without saying that if your much-loved furry family member goes off their food, stops eating altogether or has diarrhoea and/or vomiting that we will see them as soon as possible.

We are still currently asking that you remain in your car with your pet until we escort you into the practice in accordance with the continued Covid-19 guidelines. Your patience and support is much appreciated – especially to an independent Veterinary practice, which SLVC still is 🙂

Until next time; stay safe (and socially distanced), stay well, and be happy 🙂