As a lonely single male with a cat named Cricket, trust me when I say that here at Serious Eats, we count our pets as part of the family. And, like any responsible parent, I make sure that Cricket gets nothing but the best. (I have to live vicariously through her, after all.) That means testing out her scratching posts, her litter box, and, of course, her food.
Now, while I obviously keep Cricket's nutrition in mind, I go to great lengths to refine her palate, introducing her to a wide variety of flavors and textures—wet canned food, dry kibble, and, of course, an occasional snack. She also enjoys a diverse array of human foods, like doughnuts, cake, bread, refried beans, shrimp chips, and yogurt (a rare but treasured treat).
First of all, it's important that Cricket feels like part of the family when she eats, so she dines out of only the finest vessels. These superb ceramic bowls are sure to give any cat an appropriate sense of class.
In the morning, I feed Cricket a little bit of wet food—a highlight of her day. Aside from snack time, the mornings are her favorite mealtime. She especially enjoys Purina Pro Plan Canned Ocean Whitefish and Tuna ($0.83/can).
Since she's petite, I only give her a third of the can. But as a large human, it only seemed appropriate to sample a full can portion. As you might note in the above image, it's a smooth, pâté-style dish; I was pleased to find some of that richness thoughtfully balanced by a slightly grainy mouthfeel. The flavor profile is certainly whitefish-forward, but if you're attentive you may just catch a ride on a mellow note of tuna. Best of all, you're likely to enjoy that lingering flavor throughout the entire day. Not a seafood person? Worry not—I'd heartily recommend the chicken in its place.
One way to enjoy the canned wet food is to spread it on a mangled piece of highly processed white bread stolen from your roommate. Any type of cracker is an excellent alternative, though I prefer ones coated in sesame seeds, which lend a nice, roasted nuttiness to each bite. It's worth taking the time to chill the can prior to serving, since the liquid within congeals much like the delicate aspic you might find surrounding your finer pâtés. As your pet is sensitive to sodium, there's no added salt; I'd suggest a generous sprinkle of some fleur de sel, along with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Next up, it's snack time. Cricket loves her snacks. At a mere shake of the bag, she thunders down the hallway to the kitchen, yowling with longing. In keeping with her fondness for fruits de mer, she prefers Temptations Whitefish Cat Treats ($1.75 for 3 oz. bag).
These aren't just any old cat snacks, either. They are filled with a soft interior (similar to Krave cereal; review here). The crunchy exterior showcases a subtly briny seafood flavor, while the interior proves a study in the more robust, sensual qualities of fish offal. Though they're a great garnish on a bowl of Greek yogurt, like Cricket I find them no less palatable straight out of the bag.
And now for the main course: dry kibble. I make sure Cricket gets a quality food high in protein and pumped with flavor, so I opt for Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Chicken Adult Dry Cat Food ($20.99 for 5 lbs).
Think of it as a gritty yet savory cereal. Why don't they make savory cereal? I think I'm onto something! Each puckeringly dry piece leaves a sandy residue in your mouth that tastes mainly of bone meal, vaguely reminiscent of some kind of meat. Yes, it's dry, but there's nothing a little splash of water won't soften. And hey—if you're feeling frisky, try it with some salted goat's milk.
As I proceeded with the taste test, a curious group of onlookers gathered around the bowl. They were silent as I ate pâté-like canned cat food, intrigued as I pounded down cat snacks, and utterly captivated by the time I tried the cat kibble. While I can't say I'll be replacing all of my meals with Cricket's cat food, I will definitely be having one every now and then, hunched over on the floor, licking plates and eating out of a human-sized bowl right next to Cricket.
Up Next in Taste Tests!
Stay tuned for next week's taste test, when I'll be trying fish food for the tenants of my aquarium, including dry flake food, frozen and live bloodworms, and spirulina-enhanced brine shrimp!