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View Full Version : Why does most pet food look, smell and taste bad?


Wogglebug
02-03-2009, 11:01 AM
We used to keep lots of animals. For fresh veggies, there was a general rule, for the purpose of evaluating whether something was too far gone: don't feed animals anything you wouldn't eat yourself. For fresh meat, there was a similar rule: don't feed animals anything you wouldn't eat, after cooking.

Now. I just examined the latest and greatest cat food at my sister's. Expensive, chi-chi stuff. Both wet and dry food looked, smelled and tasted disgusting. I warmed the wet food up (it was a cold day): It smelled even worse. The cats went crazy with delight.

What's going on, here? Pet food companies have found food that's better than nature?

kanicbird
02-03-2009, 11:17 AM
For one canned human food usually doesn't taste or smell that good right out of the can either until you aquire a taste for it.

KarlGrenze
02-03-2009, 11:19 AM
Animals also have different tastes than we do. My dog seems to hate it when I bathe her with oatmeal shampoo. She goes out to the backyard looking for the freshes, stinkiest, "Eau de mort" scent she can find, and rubs against it. Then comes running back happily.

And some of the dry stuff doesn't taste bad, even for us humans (at least for my taste). Even though you shouldn't eat it (possibly food contamination), I've tasted all of my dog's food, and some of them are edible (I used to eat some of her cookies as export sodas).

Furious_Marmot
02-03-2009, 11:25 AM
The aesthetic characteristics that make a food appealing to a particular animal (cat) may or may not make it appealing to another animal (us). A cat will happily devour a live, raw, unwashed mouse, bird, lizard, or insect; gut contents and all. I don't find the smell of the exterior of a mouse (much less its partially digested last meal) to be appealing, but cats seem to.

It is also possible that pet food manufacturers have 'improved' on nature in some sense. For instance, most dog food contains byproducts from slaughterhouses that produce meat for human consumption. These internal organs and such have great appeal for most canids, they are among the first parts of prey animals to be eaten by wolves, for example. I am not a vet, so I have no idea if this is the best way to feed a pet (there seems to be an awful lot of grain in dog foods). For all I know, this could be the equivalent of feeding a person a steady diet of french fries-tasty, but not healthy.

panache45
02-03-2009, 11:35 AM
Your premise is faulty. It's ok to smell meat to ascertain whether it's fresh, but beyond that, different species have different nutritional needs and different taste. Try getting a cat to eat a piece of orange.

ZipperJJ
02-03-2009, 11:43 AM
I made my dog some homemade liver treats this Christmas. The ingredients were fresh liver (with blood - from the butcher), wheat flour, a touch of garlic and maybe an egg or something.

Even though it was perfectly fresh, the liver/blood was one of the most sickening things I've ever smelled in the kitchen. Stands to reason, I suppose, considering what a liver does.

There's a lot of liver in pet food, along with other nasty bits and pieces, like Furious_Marmot said. Those things just don't. smell. good.

KarlGrenze
02-03-2009, 11:46 AM
Here is a nice website (http://http://veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=646) describing AAFCO and what it means in pet food labels.

In short: There IS a process to determine what the food contents are and if it is fit for animals to eat. It is better if the food is approved by way of food tasting instead of biochemical analysis, but both ways are acceptable.

Bijou Drains
02-03-2009, 11:58 AM
My dog's dry food has very little smell but I have not tasted it yet. It's mostly rice and lamb with nothing artificial in it.

RunSilent
02-03-2009, 12:06 PM
Some of you actually TASTE your pet's food!!?!?!?!?!?:eek:

Wogglebug
02-03-2009, 12:11 PM
Here is a nice website (http://http://veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=646) describing AAFCO and what it means in pet food labels.

In short: There IS a process to determine what the food contents are and if it is fit for animals to eat. It is better if the food is approved by way of food tasting instead of biochemical analysis, but both ways are acceptable.

Ok, that URL has a typo, should be: http://veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=646 The labeling regarding percent of beef is on the amusing side. Reminds me of a scene from Dorothy's Sayer's "Murder Must Advertise".

Thanks for the many answers, I was "stuck" figuring this out. It's very interesting and suggestive that wolves go for the internal organs, first. And that fits in well with what others are observing, which is that animals have different tastes.

However, a couple things still nag: I've opened a whole chicken, and a whole fish that was just killed. They didn't smell like pet food. Also, I see my question was too broad, because in part, I was thinking about rabbits, where pellet foods couldn't be anything but a poor substitute for the fresh, natural food they normally would be accustomed to (?)

Contrapuntal
02-03-2009, 12:17 PM
Even though you shouldn't eat it (possibly food contamination), I've tasted all of my dog's food, and some of them are edible (I used to eat some of her cookies as export sodas).What is an export soda?

MichaelJohnBertrand
02-03-2009, 12:23 PM
We used to keep lots of animals. For fresh veggies, there was a general rule, for the purpose of evaluating whether something was too far gone: don't feed animals anything you wouldn't eat yourself. For fresh meat, there was a similar rule: don't feed animals anything you wouldn't eat, after cooking.

Now. I just examined the latest and greatest cat food at my sister's. Expensive, chi-chi stuff. Both wet and dry food looked, smelled and tasted disgusting. I warmed the wet food up (it was a cold day): It smelled even worse. The cats went crazy with delight.

What's going on, here? Pet food companies have found food that's better than nature?

So to sum up :

It looks, smells, and tastes bad to you because you're not a dog or a cat.

It has nothing to do with "better than nature". It's perfectly in keeping with nature... the nature of cats and dogs.

KarlGrenze
02-03-2009, 11:12 PM
What is an export soda?

Ask about it... (http://olinkinternational.com/images/products/detail/crackers.JPG)

clairobscur
02-04-2009, 12:12 AM
Even though it was perfectly fresh, the liver/blood was one of the most sickening things I've ever smelled in the kitchen. Stands to reason, I suppose, considering what a liver does.


I think you're just not accustomed to the smell/taste. Both liver and blood sausages are amongst my favourite dishes, and I definitely don't find they smell foul.I suspect you would be similarly disgusted by the smell of a steak if you never had one.



ETA : When I think about it, I don't even *notice* that liver or blood sausage have any smell at all. Again in the same way I don't notice a steak's smell. Next time I'll have either, I'll make a point of sniffing them out of curiosity, but I strongly doubt I'll notice any unpleasant odour.

Santo Rugger
02-04-2009, 12:47 AM
Some of you actually TASTE your pet's food!!?!?!?!?!?:eek:Why is that such a big deal? It's certainly not the grosest thing I've put in my mouth.

Race Harley
02-04-2009, 12:54 AM
All I can think about are the cats that spend half of their time around the house cleaning and licking their asses and the dogs who would love nothing better than sniffing another dog's ass or whatnots and someone here is comtemplating the smell and taste of their pet's food!

Balthisar
02-04-2009, 07:47 AM
I rather like the smell of my dog's food, although I've not had the nerve to try it as yet. She used to be on Pedigree, which really doesn't smell like anything -- completely neutral. During the last salmonella recall, I did some research and put her on Innova. Of course, there's the possibility that the smell is engineered for us humans rather than for the dogs, because, well, it's rather pricey, and certainly their marketing department would want us humans to think we're getting a better product.

Tom Tildrum
02-04-2009, 10:20 AM
I've always thought there was a business opportunity for a pet-food company to open a factory in the Bronx or some such, making cat food out of rats, roaches, and pigeons. Imagine the ads: "The Food Your Cat Really Wants."

ivan astikov
02-04-2009, 10:34 AM
Your premise is faulty. It's ok to smell meat to ascertain whether it's fresh, but beyond that, different species have different nutritional needs and different taste. Try getting a cat to eat a piece of orange.

My dog used to happily chomp oranges, apples and bananas, so it wouldn't surprise me if there is at least one cat with a taste for fruit. Not that this proves anything!

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