International Cat Day is today, Aug. 8, and Blue Buffalo has released survey data pointing to feline eating habits and the resulting purchasing habits of their owners. The survey conducted by Blue Buffalo included cat owners living in the United States.

According to the survey, nearly 40% of cat owners believe their feline is fussier about their mealtime experience than a child would be. Cats are notoriously known to be pickier eaters than dogs, and cat food formulators must be conscious of unique palatability and texture preferences when formulating these foods.

In a previous article on understanding pet food palatability, pet food experts shared cats employ 473 taste buds and detect sour, bitter, salty and umami flavors, with sweet being undetectable, but also rely heavily on olfactory senses (smell) to determine whether or not they will take a bite.

Additionally, cats are particularly sensitive to changes in product texture, making product acceptance and consistency key for processors in this category.

When a cat determines they don’t like the food that has been presented to them, some owners will notice a change in their eating behavior. According to the Blue Buffalo survey, 13% of respondents said their cat will “wage a hunger strike,” or refuse to eat the food. Another 12% of respondents said their feline will meow angrily, and 10% reported their cat turning the bowl over entirely in disapproval.

Variety is especially important in the cat food and treat space, given the previously mentioned finicky nature of feline eating habits. Blue Buffalo reported 51% of survey respondents change their cats’ diets either frequently, on occasion, or have trouble identifying an enjoyable diet for their cat.

While these picky eaters can be a source of stress for their owners, cat parents continue to go to great lengths to give their companions a positive mealtime experience. Some will even take it upon themselves to make sure the food tastes good. Approximately 37% of pet owners surveyed by Blue Buffalo said they have tasted their cat’s food or considered tasting it.

Read more about recent innovations and trends for cat food and treats.