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Cat feeding experiment; Food labels; Getting the message across?

Published: Friday, April 15, 2011

Cat feeding experiment
A news headline in the Veterinary Record tells us “Cats favour food similar to their natural prey”. The news item reports that, given the choice, cats will select food which is nutritionally very similar to their natural prey, i.e. they will regulate the amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrate they consume. I’ve tried to read the study by the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition but it is too complicated for my simple brain. The study does indeed appear to show that cats prefer foods which are high in protein and fat rather than high in carbohydrate. I’m stunned! We’ll soon be hearing that children prefer to eat ice-cream rather than porridge. The cats were caged and the pet foods were made by the Mars company which tends to undermine conclusions about cats (and foods) in general.

It’s a mighty leap of faith to conclude, as this study does, that cats are choosing their food  intuitively in an attempt to replicate their natural prey. As Fiona reminds me, how do you explain why many cats catch prey, bring it home as a present and then go off to eat their prepared cat food?

Two final points: 
This is a trial to find out what cats like to eat, not what is best for their health
As we have an epidemic of fat cats (real ones in this case) we ought to be looking at feeding them in a way which limits their food intake rather than increasing it.

Food labels
Grandson Jack read out the blurb on Kellogg’s Rice Crispies packet “Contains a natural pro-biotic to help keep kids’ tummies healthy”. No mention of the effect on tummy health of the one and a half teaspoonfuls of sugar in each serving with milk. But it could be worse. Coco Pops and Frosties contain a massive 37% sugar which, with milk, means three teaspoonfuls in each 23gr serving.

No wonder food manufacturers are resisting Food Standard Agency attempts to introduce the “traffic light” system of food labelling which would make it easy to identify foods which are high in salt, fat and sugar.

Getting the message across
I mentioned Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, the other day. The nursing union has passed a vote of’ No Confidence’ in him. He has apologised for failing to explain his message properly. I think the reality is that they have understood his message but he hasn’t grasped their message! Politicians routinely explain their poor ratings as being down to a lack of communication rather than bad ideas.

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