Is your cat a picky eater? Have you ever bought your cat some nutritious and high-quality cat food, but they just wont touch it ? Indeed, it requires a lot of trial and error to finally find a food that your cat likes and keeps them healthy.
In the Pet Food Industry, we break down the foods into many sections to help us better figure out what cats want and why. One such section is called ‘Attraction’, meaning the cats will choose one over the other both by smell and by taste. This means that the food not only needs to taste good, but it also needs to smell good enough for them to even bother to taste it. Studies have shown that DL-Alanine, a natural Amino Acid “attractant” with sweet and umami taste and an attracting aroma, does both !
In order to test whether DL-Alanine can effectively improve the palatability and attraction of cat foods, Anhui Huaheng Biotechnology Co. Ltd (AHB) commissioned Dr. Timothy J. Bowser and his team from the PetMech Institute in the US to conduct an interesting experiment. The test protocol was patterned after the ISO 5495:2005 standard “Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Paired comparison test”. Twenty-one pet cats and their owners participated with in-home testing protocol. The researchers conducted 4 separate observations with each cat, for a total of 84 observations. Product samples were date-fresh chicken and beef wet cat food processed and repackaged by PetMech.
Before the test began, 30 packages of cat foods were opened and emptied into a clean dish and mixed by hand using a plastic spoon. The contents of the dish were split evenly, by weight, into two pre-weighed containers (one labeled “A” for the control and the other labeled “B” for the test product). The contents of each container were dumped into a clean blender and processed for 60 seconds to achieve a pureed consistency. DL-Alanine was added to the test product during blending. Using a clean utensil, about 20 grams of product was spooned into one-ounce food-grade serving cups that were pre-labeled “A” or “B”. The serving cups were stored under refrigeration.
Each cat owner received a test kit (contents shown in figure 3) containing the following items: One sample cup containing the control product labeled “A”, one sample cup containing the test product labeled “B”, a data collection sheet, four color-coded and labeled mini serving spoons (two for the test product and two for the control) and four clean 6” foam plates. The foam plates were labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4, corresponding to the testing order set out in the data collection table, and were marked to show pet owners where to serve the samples.
Conducting the Test
PetMech personnel visited pet owners in their homes and trained them on the test method. During the preference tests, pets were presented two samples of pet food labeled A and B on the foam plates marked for position of products. The samples of the two flavors were tested twice, a total of four times (the summary data is shown in the table below). The staff listed the pet's name and its breed, age, and weight in detail in the data sheet, and those with an asterisk (*) after the name indicated that they participated in a part of the test (feeding times < 4 times).
Conclusion for preference test A/B
Dr. Timothy J. Bowser and his team performed a statistical analysis of the results. As shown in the table (left side), 21 cats ate 79 times in total (some cats ate less than 4 times).
29% of pet cats were able to distinguish between the two samples.
Sample B was eaten 51 times, accounting for 65%.
67% of the cats choose to eat only sample B with 2% DL-Alanine.
In summary, the addition of 2% DL-alanine can significantly improve the palatability of the pet food.
DL-Alanine is a natural Amino Acid/ Food Ingredient. By adding DL-Alanine to cat foods, one can improve the sour taste of organic acids in pet food with DL-Alanines sweet and umami taste and it produces an attracting fragrance through the Maillard reaction. In addition, DL-Alanine also supports pets’ metabolism to help prevent obesity.
Anhui Huaheng Biotechnology Co. Ltd is committed to serving life in a responsible and sustainable manner, providing safe, effective and natural products to protect the healthy future of you and your pets.