Observations on the initiation of eating of new food by weanling kittens
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The reaction to a new food and the initiation of its consumption were studied in daily sessions in 19 weanling kittens from four litters at 30–39 days of age. The new food consisted of canned tuna for two litters and cereal (cooked cream of wheat with 3% addition of vegetable oil and broth flavor) for the other two litters. Each litter was divided into two groups. One group was offered the new food in the presence of the mother which had been consuming it (eating cereal had to be induced in the mothers by the hypothalamic stimulation reward method). Another group of kittens received the same food in the absence of the mother. It was found that the kittens which had been offered the new food in the presence of the mother showed only a short-lasting orienting reaction and started to eat the new food on the first or second day (with a mean delay of 0.2 days). On the other hand, the kittens which had been offered the new food in the absence of the mother showed a strong orienting reaction and started to eat the new food only after several daily sessions (with a mean delay of 4.8 days). No significant difference was found between the number of days of delay in eating by kittens offered tuna and by kittens offered cereal in the absence of the mother. The initiation of consumption of the new food by these kittens was preceded by a period of playing with the plate on which the food had been placed. Additional observations showed that the fourto five-month old kittens that had eaten cereal during early training preferred that food over meat pellets; the other kittens of the same age that had eaten tuna, but no cereal, during early training refused to eat cereal when it was offered to them when they were hungry.
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