Why do cats love fish?

Why is it that the favorite food of cats is fish? Whether it’s tuna, salmon, trout, shrimp, whitefish, “ocean fish” or Brandon Farms organic mackerel and sardine pâté, my little pussa loves fish more than anything in the whole world. As soon as I take out the can from the cabinet and get ready to crack it open, he meows and leaps with joy across the kitchen!

Now, it’s not as though wild cats primarily subsist on fish. I’m under the impression that the diet of a wildcat is mostly birds, mice, rodents, and maybe small deer, for larger cats. So why do housecats love fish so much?

My cat hates fish.

Cats is weird.

Moved Cafe Society --> GQ.

Have you tried opening a can of wild bird or mouse meat?

I think part of their love for fish is a trained response. A lot of cat food is made from chicken or fish for practical reasons, because there is a large supply of very cheap fish and chicken scrap available as a byproducts of human food processing. So chicken and fish are what gets used.

I had a job making pet food flavors that were either sprayed on the outside of dry food or added into the canned food. We had a kennel of very well cared for cats and dogs that had been rescued from the pound. Each day the tech would feed a measured amount of two foods into bowls and feed the animals, measuring the amount left over in each bowl. These tests were ran over a month or so to determine which flavors and smells were prefered. This sort of thing is pretty big business.

Something to be aware of when you are buying lobster, shrimp or other exotic sounding food that you may think you are pampering your cat with, is that often there is very little of that particular species in the can. They are usually all the same kind of fish with color and a very small amount of exotic species added.

A dried flavor has been made from, say lobster, containing some actual lobster and mostly a flour type carrier, and then a very, very, small amount of that flavor has been added to the can of feed in order to make what is called a ‘label claim’. You aren’t getting what you think you are getting in your little can of Fancy Beast. The actual flavors and smells that attract your cat to eat the food have nothing to do with the lobster or whatever the label claim is.

Other apperance modifications have been made to please the person who opens the can.

Slight hijack: The narrowest (less than 6 ft.) street in Paris is *“Chat-qui-Pêche” *(“Fishing Cat”), a tiny street on the *Rive Gauche, *just off the Seine. Back in the 16th century, when the Seine overflowed, cats would go down to the flooded basements and catch fish.

I’ve seen various places that cat’s taste receptors aren’t as sophisticated as other species. (no cite–just read it around) So that makes me think that a cat might prefer a stronger smelling or flavored food. Just a guess. My cats love fish and any strong-smelling meats. One cat I had would put dried chiles in his water dish.

I was thinking the same thing, a can of tuna has a strong smell to it, but a can of chicken doesn’t

My cat wasn’t all that crazy about tuna or such, the only thing she’d beg for is liver. She could smell that and love liver. Of course my mother loved liver and onions so she made it often, which has a strong smell that sent the cat running to the kitchen, begging

“sophisticated” might be a loaded way to put it. Apparently, cats lack functioning sweet receptors:

I Have Heard It Claimed (Cite? WTF is that?) that cats are divided into “meat cats” and “fish cats”.

Our moggie is most definitely a Meat Cat. We have to sort carefully through the umpty bazillion “fishy” varieties of cat food to make sure we don’t get any, 'cos it would only be going straight down the bin anyway.

Fancy Feast offers a “sea bass” cat food. They can’t possibly really be using an endangered fish species for cat food, can they?

Their using the byproducts of what humans eat. If humans eat sea bass, then what’s left over is put in cat food.

Cats do seem to know what protein smells like, in any case.

Fish, pussy. Got me beat.

My old cat was a meat cat – the current pair won’t eat it at all, it’s fish all the way for them.

I understand the most popular cat food in the UK is rabbit. I just wanted to throw that in.

Cats either never evolved (or more likely, lost) the ability to sense sweetness. Reference here.

I just wanted to throw that out there.

As far as “unsophisticated” taste, I don’t know if that’s true. The image of a picky cat is quite common. Has anyone ever heard of a picky dog? :smiley:

My Tiger (obligatory photo) eats only dry cat food (Prescription Diet C/D, because one of her littermates had a problem with urine crystals). That only comes in one flavor, and she gets that twice a day, every day, for the 5 1/2 or so years she’s been alive (the last 2 1/2 with me). She doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, the first year she was here I brought her a piece of turkey as a treat for Thanksgiving. She sniffed it and looked at me as if to say “What’s this? This isn’t food.” It took me about a half dozen tries before I could find a type of cat treat she likes (Whiskas Crunch Lover’s).

I’d be curious how cats react to that fake crab meat stuff? I get the feeling that stuff is made from trash fish cleaned from the trash-fish processing gears.

Fancy Feast is the brand I refered to as Fancy Beast in my post above. What we did to create Trout, Salmon, Lobster, Shrimp, etc flavors was to purchase some scrap bodies of each kind so that there was a paper trail to the source. We only used a couple hundred pounds of source material.

Cook, screen out the bones, and end up with a slurry. Dry it on a drum dryer into flakes. Blend the resulting 20 pounds of flake with malto-dextrin to create an end batch of several hundred pounds of ‘sea bass’ or ‘shrimp’ or whatever, flavor. This is the part I have first hand experience with. We just made a small batch of the flavors. That were mostly carrier.

The addition rate to the final can must be very small. There are probably actual atoms of sea bass in the can but most of the fish protein is from more mundane sources.

Mystery is a dairy cat.