Nimoo? How come someone sent Nimoo something?
Cameron peered at the package address, and helped me to unwrap it.
They want Nimoo to try their food, and to give her a choice of what kind of food she likes.
Nimoo isn’t your most finicky of kitties normally. I mean, there’s food she definitely loves, and will gobble whatever amount I give her in a matter of minutes. She also gains weight rapidly on that stuff, even if I limit her portions. Others she’ll eat a few bites of eagerly, then lose interest. Some, the shapes seem to be a trouble for her, and the pieces get reduced to a pile of crumbs, so she’s meowling around my legs despite having a bowl half full of food. It’s pretty rare, but she has in the past taken a swipe at my leg and yowled a demand when what was in the bowl didn’t match up with her expectations.
When I was given the chance to take part in a product review for Royal Canin, at first I wasn’t too sure. I mean, I don’t often do reviews here, and it has to fit into my ideas of what this blog is about. Green stuff, check. Parenting advice, check. But cat food? I do already know what foods she likes. I know which one gives her a nice glossy coat and helps her keep her tummy less waggly. But then … choice is a good thing. And the only way to figure out which one she prefers is to (insert fanfare here) design an experiment with my handy little four year old helper. Who had just assumed kitty feeding responsibility. So I said yes. What can I say … I’m a scientist.
So, we were sent a Selective Discovery Pack from the nice folks at Royal Canin. I should include a little about the company here. They are a research-based company, formulating foods for animals based on research, not surveys, and they select ingredients based on the animal’s nutritional needs, not human ideals. Over 60% of their ingredients are sourced within Canada, and they’re aiming to increase that. You won’t find their products in grocery or drug stores, just from specialty pet supply stores and vets.
It says here, Cameron, that cats pick their food based on smell, how it feels in their mouth, and how it feels once they’ve eaten it. So, does it smell good, does it crunch the way they like it, and do they feel full but not too full after eating it. And they’ve given us three packets of different food, and three bowls, so she can try them all. How do you think she’ll let us know which one she likes?
Do you think she’ll write us a note on the fridge using your magnets? No. Hrm. Pick up the package she likes and say, “This one this one!” No? Riiiight, she’ll eat the one she likes.
Cameron picked up the three bowls, and inspected them.
But Mama! They’re different colours. See? What if she likes pink best, and just eats the pink food because she likes the colour?
Well, they didn’t say anything about colour of bowl influencing choice, but what the heck. He’s got a point. I asked him how he thought we could be sure that this wasn’t a problem. The concept of a literature review is a little above him still. So this led to a few days of giving her her regular food, distributed across the three bowls. And a change of location of her dinner spot, so that she didn’t approach from one side and skew the results by just eating from whatever bowl she came to first. And we ‘randomized’ the order of the bowls, too.
I’m so proud of my budding scientist!
We concluded that Nimoo, with a sample size of six feedings across three days, showed no preference for food based on the colour of serving dish. This is consistent with current understanding of cat’s vision – they can perceive colour, but not very well. Yeah. I’m a geek. Just be glad I’m not presenting statistics (I’ll wait until Cameron doesn’t need to count on his fingers to do addition) or referencing this (that’ll come when Cameron can, you know, read).
Enough with the preliminaries, on to the real thing!
We made sure that Nimoo was good and hungry, poor thing, by allowing her food dish to be empty overnight. Please note, this was just food. Her water dish is the fish tank, and is never empty or unavailable – never deprive your pet of water unless instructed to by your vet!
Cameron helped me fill the dishes while Moo wrapped herself around our ankles, measuring the same amount of food into each (recognizing the limitation of our measuring device, a large dinner spoon. I don’t have a balance in my kitchen). All three bowls were placed at her dinner spot at the same time, and we stepped back to watch.
As expected, Nimoo nosed around at each, taking a bite here, a bite there. Then she went away to have a bath. It was very anticlimactic.
With each feeding, she grew more and more definite. She did NOT like the purple-packaged one as much as the yellow-brown or the pink. Interestngly, purple is ‘aromatic selection’, so this was a surprise to me, as one of the obvious things about the food I like to buy for her, that I thought was attractive to her, was the smell. Go figure. Now, she did polish off nearly all the food in each eventually, but the pink and yellow took turns being the first she’d eat, and the first to be finished. The purple was never the first to be eaten, and was always the last to be finished.
In the end, she didn’t pick one over the other, but the distribution of preference was definitely different from expectations had her choice been random. The yellow one was ‘protein preference’, meaning how they feel after eating the food, and the pink, ‘savour sensation’, or how the texture feels in the cat’s mouth. Pink was the one she most frequently chose to start eating first, but yellow was most often finished first.
Now it’ll be interesting to see how the yellow one, which is what we’ll probably use for follow-up studies, measures up. Does she continue to like it? Will she leave Cameron in peace when her bowl is empty? Will she gain weight rapidly on it, as she does on one of her other favourite food? I’ll come back and post about long-term results later, and if you’re curious, I’ll tell you what the ‘competitors’ are, the two I’ll normally buy, and even the other I used to buy but don’t now because she can’t seem to eat it.
We all got something out of this. Nimoo got a new food. Cameron got to become firmly entrenched in his new role of Feeder of the Cat, and got to learn a little about experimental design and interpretation of results. Me, I got to laugh myself silly at my son, and the cat now goes after him when we come in the door, begging for food, instead of me. What did I think of it? I think it’s a neat idea, to help cat owners be sure that they’re feeding their kitties not just nutritional food, but also food that they like. I’m enjoying some of the things I’m reading about the company, and will likely do some more investigating, as I like to support Canadian companies that make good choices. My one criticism is the bowls. It’s a little unsustainable and gimicky to give away three metal bowls, when most cat owners already do have bowls that they like to use. I will for sure give a bag of this a try, and see what the final longer-term result is. I’ll keep y’all posted.
And you can get something too. I’m told I’ve got a Selective Discovery Pack to give away! It comes complete with bowls, around a three day sample of three types of food, and I believe a coupon.
How? Just leave me a comment here. What the heck. Tweet about it, mention it on facebook, write about it in your blog, or otherwise spread the word for another entry – one per mode of spreading the word, let me know where! I’ll use a handy random number generator on Thursday evening, let’s say 9pm Pacific Time, and announce the winner!
(ohNO, I just read the details. Sorry folks, you’ve got to have a Canadian address to win this one. I should also point out that I was not paid for this review, though I did receive a Selective Discovery Pack and a coupon for a large bag of her preferred variety.)