Nine out of ten cats prefer The List’s Food page, but what do they eat when they get the choice? Catherine Fellows tests three cool cats.
I Kit-e-cat with tuna. 400g tin. 42p. Pale brown mush, consistent fine texture, not much jelly, good fishy smell.
I Choosy with sardines (Spillers). 400g tin, 36p. Coarser texture, strong smell.
l Science Diet Feline Maintenance ﬂavour unspecified (Hills). 156g tin, 67p. The label on this equivalent of high-performance sports food is misleading. ‘Vegctarian recommended‘, it says: it may be ‘low in magnesium, enriched with taurine’, but it is made of ‘meat by-products, liver, animal fat, poultry by-product meal‘.
I M & 8 Seafood in Jelly sardines, red snapper, anchovies and shrimps. 170g tin, 29p. Good enough to eat on oatcakes — lumps of fish and shrimps in jelly and, according to the ingredients, simply that.
I Purrfect chicken with salmon and trout (Spillers). 150g foil tray, 46p. Pale — like a coarse salmon mousse. I lams 170g bright orange carton, 70p. Dried, dark brown biscuit triangles, lams are a complete food dreamed up in Dayton, Ohio. for ‘scheduled, portion-controlled feeding‘. Nutritional claims made by the manufacturers are backed by Mrs Thompson of Dofos Pet Stores. Edinburgh, who says she has seen the difference in condition ofcoat after a few weeks. Apparently. consumers also produce small, odourless faeces — an advantage for indoor-cat owners.
I Delikatwith ‘real’ fish (Felix). ‘Four foil fresh sachets‘ (ie four meals), 67p. ‘Moist and tender’ morsels supposedly offering the purrfect compromise between tinned and dried food: ‘stays fresh all day, so you have extra freedom and confidence when it comes to feeding time‘ (you what?)
I Katltins with kidney. 410g tin, 32p. Unusually. synthesised chunks in rich brown jellied gravy.
I Whiskas with tuna. 400g tin, 37p. Juicy. standard food with coarse bits that you don‘t want to look at too closely in case you recognise them. I Nature-Cat salmon and tuna with herbs (Denes Natural Petfood). 185g tin, 42p. No artificial colours or
ﬂavourings. Special ingredients: denes herbal. seaweed, copper. . . I Hi-Lite Gourmet tropical mackerel (Pet‘s Pantry). 185g tin. 34p. Second only to M & S in aesthetic appeal — mushy mackerel in greyish jelly.
I Go-Cat lamb and beef (Friskies). Classic star-shaped biscuits, ‘all your cat needs‘, but usually an additional snack or treat: ‘each bite-sized piece basted in natural juices for an extra mouthwatering taste‘.
I Arthur’s Select Recipe salmon and cod (Spillers Kattomeat). 185g tin. 29p. The TV cat‘s favourite is pink. with a very juicy texture.
I Whiskas Cat Milk 180ml carton. 40p. Obviously a hit with Italians this ‘unique lactose-reduced formula‘ — ‘Latte per Gatti’. OK. so ordinary milk isn‘t right for cats, but wouldn‘t it be simpler to give the noble creatures water?
I would like to thank my tasters, Saffron, Matte and Tadger, the three who bore with me, even though it was long past habitual supper time. They were far too polite to question the relevance of my observations. but when I saw these three senior cats bringing the weight oftheir experience to bear upon the undertaking, my deference was absolute. l have complete
confidence in their considered opinions, which I will attempt to convey faithfully.
The first to cast his eye over the thirteen on trial was Matte. Scientific in his methods. he sniffed almost all the options, then went for the Hi-Life. It was tasty. but Motte is no sucker for a marketing dream; he left it after a few mouthfuls for Nature-Cat which was promptly despatched, herbs and all. Arthur‘s Select Recipe was very acceptable; if there had been more he would have gone on eating. Go-Cat is part of his usual diet, so he polished them off, but he had no time for the other dry foods, the Delikat and the lams, which he fiddled with momentarily before moving on to sniff the Purrfect and the M & S seafood.
He had a go at the Science Diet. but being more ofan aesthetc than an athlete, returned to polish off the M & S. By the time he reached the Choosy and Kit-e-cat, Motte was pretty full, but he forced a little down. Finally. he returned to his usual brands, Katkins and Whiskas, which were not considered worth looking at first time round. but he couldn‘t summon much enthusiasm at this late stage. After a curious glance at the Science Diet tin — interesting concept after all — Motte
Motte took a deep interest in the food and had sophisticated preferences— Hi-Life, Nature-Cat, Arthur’s Select, M & S — and definite dislikes- lams, Delikat, Purrfect. On the other hand, like many gourmets, he cannot bear to let good food go to waste, so he did what he could with the Whiskas, Choosy, Kit-e-cat and Katkins. Motte never drinks milk of any kind.
Saffron got very excited, and her ears rather twitchy— if she tried this, would she have room for that? She turned up her nose at Whiskas and Katkins, sniffed Nature-Cat, went back to Whiskas for a nibble, then on to Delikat, polished it off, looked for more, found the lams, polished them off (Motte doesn’t know anything), moved on to sniff the Purrfect, straight past M & S, Science Diet and Kit-e-cat, had a brief nibble of Choosy, then alternate mouthfuls of Choosy and Kit-e-cat — she was not convinced. Finally, she settled into
the M & 8 Seafood, finished it completely. and the Purrfect received the same treatment. She had a bit of trouble with her teeth on Hi-Life. but it didn‘t put her off. She was unwilling to draw the tasting to a close, but after much lip-licking she admitted she felt like a barrel and waddled off. She found the milk acceptable, but nothing to rave about. Her favourites were Delikat, lams, M&S, Purrfect and Hi-Life.
Tadger took a quite different approach. No faffing about from this large, black, opinionated cat. A brief sniffaround and he was tucking into the M & 8 Seafood with obvious satisfaction. His choices bore out an established penchant for jelly and chunky bits. He sniffed Purrfect, tasted Science Diet, then had a good look at the selection — milk, no thanks; Arthur‘s recipe, any better offers? No? [I’ll do fine. Ah! Whiskas tuna, a familiar favourite: he made inroads into that, and the satisfying lumps of Katkins also disappeared. He gave the Purrfect foil pack some attention, but wasn‘t tempted by the contents. Something ofa traditionalist, Tadger knew what he liked and he‘d eaten it: M & S fish, Arthur‘s, Katkins and Whiskas.
Cats, as everyone knows. have individual preferences. There was a modicum ofconsensus though. the M & S Seafood received universal acclaim. What the response to fresh fish, which it so closely resembles, would have been, who can say? That is not a cheap option though, fishmongers charging as much as 50p for 200g of scraps. Also, cats may be wise to consider the vast effort the majority ofmanufacturers put into perfecting foods from a nutritional point ofview. At least they can feel confident that in indulging their owners’ whims with whims of their own, they are not making any sacrifices in health terms. lfthe worst comes to the worst, there is always lams special recipe ‘for overweight and inactive cats’.
70'l‘hc List 11 — 24 September 1992