Go Organic or Not?
Grade Level: 6th; Type: Animal
The goal of this project is to test whether cats have a preference for food, specifically organic. The label “organic” means that synthetic pesticides were not used on the ingredients in the food. This description might imply that the food tastes more natural or appetizing, and students can test that implication.
- Do cats have food preferences?
- Does organic cat food taste better to cats than non-organic food?
Cats are carnivores, though most commercial cat food includes plant materials supplemented with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Cat food labeled “organic” should mean that the animal material is free of synthetic hormones and the plant materials were not treated with synthetic pesticides. Often the word organic is equated with natural, meaning better tasting.
In this experiment, the independent variables are the food types and brands while the dependent variables are the amounts of each kind that the cats eat. The constants are the cats’ environments and the source of the food.
- Organic cat food
- Access to several cats (more than one is important)
- The cats’ regular food
- Identical food dishes
- Measuring cup
- Starting with empty food dishes, measure the same amount of two kinds of food into two bowls.
- Place the bowls in the normal spot for feeding.
- Sit at least three feet from the food and quietly observe the cat’s behavior at the bowls.
- Record your observations.
- Wait 12 hours and measure the food in each bowl.
- Repeat for several days until a trend develops.
- Repeat with several cats to get a sampling of reactions.
Terms/Concepts: Carnivore; Organic
- Growing and Eating Green: Careers in Farming Producing, and Food, Ruth Owen (2009).
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