By Carole Gamelin
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You lovingly buy her a nice bowl. You select kibbles that will provide him with what he needs and every day it’s the same thing: your cat is sulking the bottom of his bowl.
Better, it meows all it can for you to refuel. And why does he never finish his Felix plate?
The question may surprise you, but ask it to those around you and you will see that this attitude is very common in cats.
So why ? Is it the bowl that does not belong to him? Is your cat afraid to grow its whiskers to the bottom of the container? Is he so afraid of missing out that he wants more? Or is it related to something else? To the croquettes themselves?
In an attempt to solve this mystery – or rather one of the many mysteries when it comes to cats – we asked the question to Thierry Bedossa.
Thierry Bedossa is a passionate cat and dog owner, a veterinary biologist and behaviorist with multiple publications and activities. And you’ve probably already seen it on TV in The secret life of cats that he co-hosts on TF1.
According to him, the attitude of the cat in front of its bowl refers directly to two types of characteristics: species characteristics and individual characteristics. Feeding behavior is linked to the evolutionary history of the cat. We explain it all to you!
Starting point: the cat in nature
To understand the attitude of a domesticated cat, we must first look at the behavior of the cat in the wild. “There are still free cats that don’t need humans for food. They are not sterilized. They hunt, day and night. They lie in wait, they pounce on their prey, kill it and eat it,” explains Thierry Bedossa.
On the menu of these free cats – which can live in the forest for example – two types of prey: small feathers (birds) the day and the small hairs (rodents) the night. Some will sometimes venture to eat the contents of the bowls they find outside, among humans.
What happens to hunting in domesticated cats?
In the cat that lives with a human, this principle of hunting is altered because the animal lives in a radically different ecosystem: an economic ecosystem. He may hunt a little, but above all he will be bowl fed.
The market of pet food (animal feed) in France is estimated at more than 5 billion euros, and sales would have increased by 48% in 10 years. According to the private institute xerfipet owners spend on average 800€ per year for their animalthe power supply being the biggest sector.
So to win the market for our cats’ bowls, manufacturers compete in technicality to offer foods that meet their nutritional needs: processed foods. To put it simply: the raw materials are cooked at a very high temperature and chemicals are added for preservation and palatability, which is called – as in humans – flavor enhancers.
The indoor cat addicted to food?
Often sterilized, the domestic cat has 30-40% lower metabolic needs compared to a cat that lives in nature.
“An indoor cat, if the human is absent, will be bored”, explains Thierry Bedossa. “It’s an animal that needs to move, to watch, to eat in small quantities several times a day. When the human comes in, he gives her kibble or a mash. We then have an explosive cocktail: sterilization + boredom + frustration + flavor enhancers = cat addicted to food! »
The cat therefore finds pleasure when it is given food. And the human likes to please his beloved cat.
This social bond with humans does not exist in nature… where there is no bowl. So can we say that our cat is asking for food so that we renew this link? The shortcut is tempting but not proven by science.
And the croquettes and the mash in there?
Cats are foodies. “They have more olfactory abilities than us,” recalls Thierry Bedossa. “Their brain is equipped to process smells and tastes.”
If your cat leaves the bottom of its bowl, could it be the food’s fault?
If the mash is not consumed immediately, it will attract flies, deteriorate and these olfactory nuisances may not please the cat.
According to our veterinarian, “50% of the calories consumed in kibble sold on the market come fromcarbohydrates. Slow sugars such as rice, potatoes, cereals, starches such as peas or lentils. In the wild, no cat feeds on these products or seeds individually.”
Do these dehydrated products left in the open air for too long lose their appeal for the cat? We would like to believe it but no, cats do not complain because their kibbles are no longer crunchy enough or they want fresh ones. We interpret with human reasoning…
And if it came from the bowl itself?
Industry has long understood that cats are so important in our lives that they are almost (or downright) part of the family. And so, it’s a bit of a gold rush for all the accessories that will accompany his arrival in the house.
In the first row: the bowl. Bowl ? Plastic or stainless steel bowl? Flat or hollow plate? Does the container have an influence on your cat’s attitude? We cannot rule out that some cats have preferences. But overall, it is above all the content that interests them…
Here again, we lend our animals sensations that they certainly do not experience. And that’s where the sentence falls: each cat is unique and no one has yet solved this mystery of the bowl.
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