Eyre, R., Trehiou, M., Marshall, E. et al. 2022. Aging cats prefer warm food. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 47, 86-92.
The aim of this study was to determine if meal temperature of cat wet food affected the feeding preference of aging (>7 years of age) domestic short-haired cats. We examined a chunks in gravy product served at three nominal temperatures of 6⁰C, 21⁰C, and 37⁰C using a two-bowl difference test. Gravy viscosity was measured using a Brookfield DV1 viscometer and the percentage of volatile compounds released at each product temperature was also analysed using headspace solid-phase micro-extraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The aging cats significantly preferred the warmer products in all pairwise comparisons, 6⁰C < 21⁰C < 37⁰C, with the product at 37⁰C being the most preferred. The gravy viscosity was almost identical at each temperature, however, significant changes were observed in 11 out of the 15 volatile compound chemical classes measured at the different product temperatures. Hence, warming may increase the attractiveness by changing and/ or enhancing the flavor profile for aging cats. Understanding the feeding behaviors and preferences of aging cats is an important area of research. Warmed wet food can help to promote food consumption in aging cats, especially those that have lost interest in eating or do not consume enough product to maintain a healthy body weight.