Panel discussion: Cats are unique creatures: New nutrition research

Though a smaller part of the overall pet food market, cat food represents a growth segment globally, as more pet-loving consumers turn to cats as companions. Product development is starting to catch up, emphasizing that cats are not small dogs; they have their own unique nutritional and health needs. What does the latest research show? Topics and experts include:

  • Long-term effects of diet format on body weight, body composition and insulin sensitivity in the cat — Emma Bermingham, Ph.D., AgResearch
  • Holistic approach to measuring palatability in wet cat diets — Susan Jojola, Ph.D., and Punyatoya Mohapatra, Ph.D., AFB International
  • Potential benefits of supplementing dietary choline to cats — Alexandra Rankovic, University of Guelph

Panel members include:

Emma Bermingham, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, AgResearch

Susan Jojola, Ph.D., Manager Applied Behavior Research, AFB International

Punyatoya Mohapatra, Ph.D., Global Customer Engagement Manager, AFB International

Alexandra Rankovic, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Guelph

Emma Bermingham, Ph.D., obtained a bachelor’s degree animal science from Massey University and a Ph.D. from Massey University (based at AgResearch). She undertook several post-doctoral positions including at the Waltham Centre of Pet Nutrition. In 2007, she returned to AgResearch to investigate the effects of diet on intestinal health and in 2009 was appointed senior scientist, responsible for conducting commercial and applied nutritional research for companion animals. Research interests include the effects of diet on intestinal health for companion animals, focusing on intestinal microbiota.

Susan Jojola, Ph.D., joined AFB in 2013 and has focused on developing and applying innovative behavioral methods to gain insight to behaviors related to feeding and flavor preferences of companion animals. Jojola has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, which aids in method development based on cognition and learning in cats and dogs. She also holds a master’s degree in wildlife science and a doctorate in ecology. Working with diverse species all over the world related to animal behavior, chemical communication, and taste preference has contributed to her applied research with AFB. She has presented her work at national and international venues for both technical and non-technical audiences, including customer presentations and demonstrations, and has multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Punyatoya Mohapatra, Ph.D., has been with AFB International for over seven years. She joined AFB in 2013 where she has been part of the R&D team leading various teams including analytical chemistry, product development and innovation. She has represented AFB at various conferences including Pet Food Forum, International Society of Olfaction and Electronic Nose, American Chemical Society and Institute of Food Technologist to share AFB’s research on palatability. In her current role, she works with AFB’s customers around the globe to understand their needs and share product knowledge and promote AFB’s existing and new products to customers. Mohapatra graduated from North Dakota State University with a Ph.D. in agricultural and biosystems engineering after earning her master’s degree in food engineering from Thailand and her bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from India.

Alexandra Rankovic is a doctoral candidate from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. Her doctoral research focuses on the lipotropic effects of dietary choline supplementation in overweight and obese cats. She previously obtained her master’s degree in companion animal nutrition, where her research focused on the glycemic index and the effects of carbohydrates on health in dogs. Rankovic has presented her research at a large number of international conferences and has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications. She has experience working with several pet food companies, including Royal Canin Canada and Petcurean Pet Nutrition.