Behavioral indicators for measuring perception of food by cats
February 3, 2017 (published)
EveryCat Health Foundation

A summary of:

A novel set of behavioral indicators for measuring perception of food by cat
Vet J. 2016 Oct;216:53-8
DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2016.06.012

The aim of this study was to expand that knowledge by identifying behavioral indicators correlating with three degrees of palatability. Thirty-four pet cats were presented with three types of items: favored food (FF), favored food with a placebo mini-tablet hidden inside (TFF) and non-favored food (NFF). The items were presented in a pseudo-randomized sequence, with six trials per item and 18 trials per cat. The behavior of cats before, during and after eating, or refusing to eat, was video recorded.

Two trained observers, blinded to the types of food items, independently determined the frequency of 16 behavioral patterns on the video recordings. Five behavioral patterns differentiated FF from NFF; ‘flick ears backwards’, ‘lick nose’, ‘not eaten’, ‘flick tail’ and ‘groom body’ were more frequent with NFF, whereas ‘lick lips’ was more frequent with FF. One indicator, ‘drop item’, was more frequent with TFF than FF. These findings provide evidence of new behavioral indicators for objective assessment of food perception in cats. The findings also have practical applicability in designing a novel palatability test to be utilized in developing veterinary pharmaceuticals with improved palatability for cats. (MK)