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The food preferences of 64 cats, of which 28 were domestic pets and 36 were free-ranging animals on three farms, were tested using five food types; a sixth type was also tested on the farm cats. Information was also gathered on the background diet of the house cats (individually) and of each farm cat colony. Consistent differences were found between the predefined groups of cats in their preferences for three foods, Hard Dry (HD), Canned Meat (CM) and Raw Beef (RB), the greatest differences being between house cats and farm cats as a whole. The three colonies of farm cats showed distinct differences in preference, for RB and/or CM, and for the sixth food, Soft Dry (SD). Differences between farms could be explained by a reduced preference for items similar to major components of the background diet of each colony, i.e. selection in favour of foods that were temporally rare. Differences between house and farm cats, and within the house cats, could not be explained in this way; the house cats were neophobic towards RB, and the farm cats ate little of the HD food, possibly because they found it difficult to ingest. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original publication




Journal article


Applied Animal Behaviour Science

Publication Date





257 - 268