You probably know a dog or cat who waits eagerly by their food bowl, or even passes up steak for their everyday dog or cat food. That’s because the pet food business is very competitive, and companies go above and beyond the call of complete nutrition to make their kibble and gushy noms taste good to the consumer.
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Many animals rely heavily on smell to navigate the world around them, and this is often the main sense that’s targeted. While human noses contain around 50 million olfactory receptors, cats have 67 million, rabbits have 100 million and dogs have around 220 million. On the other hand, their sense of taste is generally less discriminating than ours – our relatively high density of taste receptors is thought to have evolved to help us cope with our diverse omnivorous diets.
The catch is that appealing to animals that find the smell of roadkill, sweaty socks, and vomit utterly enchanting – as carnivorous pets often do – while not making their human companions feel violently ill, is extremely tricky. “There is a slight paradox there, because the smells that cats particularly but also dogs seem to like are often the opposite of what humans like,” says Logan.
There is no one secret ingredient that makes dogs drool over dog food, or cats caterwaul over cat food, but rather a whole library of additives that appeal to the cat or dog palate. Read about them, and the history of pet food, at BBC Future. -via Damn Interesting
(Image credit: Flickr user bambe1964)