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Nestle Purina

How Kitties Helped Create Friskies' New Line of Cat Food

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Nestle Purina

Cats are notoriously persnickety eaters, often turning up their noses at food chosen for them by their humans. But Friskies is betting that picky felines will be a little bit more excited about food chosen by their kitty counterparts: It debuted Cat Concoctions, a wet food that features flavor creations picked by cats, earlier this year.

“At Friskies, we’re always looking for new, unique things to do,” Friskies Brand Manager Jessica Nichols told mental_floss at the New York City launch of Cat Concoctions. “We have a lot of great tasting cat food, but we don’t want to just do more of the same, and we know that cats are quirky and they have their own wants and needs.”

So the company decided to let cats pick flavor combinations for once, though humans still had to help a little bit. Friskies scientists took flavors they knew cats liked and threw them together in bizarre variations. Then, they turned to the cats in the company’s St. Joseph, Missouri facility for tasting help. “We fed them different combinations to see what they gravitated towards the most,” Nichols says. “We literally gave each cat two bowls and asked them to choose which one they liked.” (Many of the cats in the facility—which also houses dogs; Friskies is owned by Purina—come from shelters, and each one has a name. “A lot of them end up getting adopted by the people who work there,” Nichols says.)

Celebrity cats Grumpy Cat, Nala Cat, and Waffles help introduce Friskies® Cat Concoctions, a wet cat food that features curious flavor combinations from the minds of cats at an event in New York City. Image courtesy of Bennett Raglin/AP Images for Friskies.

Based on how much the cats ate, flavors were either scrapped or advanced to the next round, until, eventually, “we narrowed it down to what they like the most,” Nichols said. “It’s all scientifically studied.” Four flavors were ultimately chosen: Scrumptious Salmon & Chicken Liver Dinner Pate; Chicken in Creamy Crabby Sauce; Cod in Cheesy Bacon Flavored Sauce; Lamb in Clam Flavored Sauce. “The cod and cheesy bacon sauce, I think, is the most unappetizing to humans,” Nichols says. The flavor has at least one feline fan, though: “Grumpy has been really enjoying the cod in the cheesy bacon-flavored sauce,” Grumpy Cat’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen, told mental_floss.

Despite the fact that humans don’t get the appeal of these combinations, the response to Cat Concoctions, according to Nichols, has been “overwhelmingly positive. It’s one of our most successful launches with wet cat food with Friskies. It’s really just about letting cats call the shots, so it’s not just scientists determining what’s going to sell best—it’s what cats like.”

Four Cat Concoctions flavors are in stores now; two more will hit shelves next January. You can get a coupon here.

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Focus Features
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Animals
25 Shelter Dogs Who Made It Big
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Focus Features

If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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iStock

Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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