Have you ever wondered how cat food companies decide which flavors will tickle kitty’s palate? I have and, thanks to recent visits to Hill’s and Purina, I now know there’s a lot of science behind those decisions. Seriously, a lot of time and research goes into what will eventually become Giblets and Gravy Galore Shredded Entr├®e Dinner Supreme. OK, that’s not an actual flavor, but you get it.
And I mean no disrespect to those talented R&D professionals who spend entire workdays thinking about giblets, it just seems to me there’s an easier way to go about predicting what Mr. Boots will fancy at mealtime.
Going by what I know my cats like to smell and taste, here’s what I recommend for cat food flavors:
In my experience, cats love anything greasy, and the promise of possible cheese and meat scraps sweetens the pot. The beauty of cardboard is its magical properties of absorption, adding extra value to the grease-licking experience.
It’s like Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper: The flavor seems to last forever. Plus, it’s a box. A cat can actually lie in it while enjoying the oily goodness. What could be better? Perhaps a 12-pack of Greasy Pizza Box canned food could be packaged in an actual pizza box to be used later for napping? Go ahead, Purina marketing — I won’t charge you for that idea.
Sharing my home with a teenage son means the likelihood of putrid sweat socks lying around at any given time is pretty high. The smelly socks are like little stained cotton-nylon-blend ninjas. I say this because I don’t see them and then suddenly there they are, attacking me with nunchucks of funk.
Many times, however, I can spot the stink bomb because there’s a cat with her nose attached to it. I’ve seen one of my cats earnestly rubbing her entire face over the length of a dirty sock and had to walk away because the level of intimacy made me feel a bit uncomfortable.
Sometimes I happen upon one of my cats smelling an invisible spot on the carpet. She stares at me with an open mouth and a wild look in her eyes. Does this sound familiar? So I do what any normal person would do ÔÇô- I crouch down on my hands and knees and smell the carpet. Nothing. Perhaps it was a spot where another cat butt had recently rested, or the former site of a stinky sock, but whatever the case, the cat cannot resist the lingering odor.
I think these mystery smells would be excellent cat-food material. Each dry piece of kibble could be a different scent and taste, surprising the cat with each crunch. And, like those strange, secret smells in the carpet, only the cat will be able to fully embrace the bouquet. This is good news for someone like me who gags when opening a fresh bag of kibble.
It’s a fact: Cats love to lick their own behinds as well as sniff or lick other cats’ bottoms.
I remember my father-in-law telling me cat food companies should produce cat butt-flavored cat food. He’d laugh and mention it most every time he’d see one of my cats engaged in such behavior. One Christmas he even gave my cat a food bowl with "CAT BUTT" scrawled in Sharpie on the side of it.
Even though the joke got old after a while, he had a point. Cat butt-flavored food would be a certain hit. In fact, I think stores would have trouble keeping it on the shelves.
Maybe they’re looking for extra fiber, but my cats love to chew on paper and cardboard. I’ve returned important papers decoratively edged with chew marks to the bank. And it’s a bonus if a cardboard box or paper has tape attached to it. Sometimes Cosmo would rather gnaw on the edge of a cardboard box than lie inside it. I think cat-food companies would be smart to create a high-fiber, chewy food to appease a cat’s penchant for paper. How about edible tape as a treat? It could come in fun shapes like snakes and worms. Tapeworm!
I’ve lost four butter dishes due to my cat Saffy knocking them on the floor in search of golden treasure. Once I was softening a wrapped stick of butter on the counter and Phoebe swiped the entire thing and made off down the stairs with it.
Like Greasy Pizza Box, butter’s richness and slippery texture is a delight most cats find hard to resist. Stick of Butter cat food might be included in a specialty line and given to cats as a treat. The richness could also be tempered by combining it with Smelly Sock or Cat Butt.
I know I’m not traditionally schooled in the science of developing cat food flavors — and I certainly don’t hold a fancy title or specialized degree. I do, however, feel I have a firm grip on what cats like to smell and taste, and will entertain any and all offers for the use of my unconventional talents. I am also available to help identify strange carpet odors.
What cat food flavors would get your cat excited? Let us know in the comments!