NEW YORK — It’s early in the morning and Buddy the Cat is wide awake, meowing insistently for breakfast.
The tabby cat’s familiar muscular physique has wasted away, replaced by a gaunt, sickly appearance. Squint and you can almost make out his ribs, while his coat — normally silky and glowing — is now coarse and dull.
After a few minutes Buddy gives up and collapses with a sigh, resigning himself to the same tasteless kibble and unsatisfying salmon, chicken, beef and tuna wet food he’s been eating for weeks.
“I haven’t had a morsel of turkey since Oct. 6,” Buddy said mournfully. “If I don’t get turkey soon, I’m not sure I’ll make it.”
With demand outpacing supply, logistical gridlock in the shipping industry and the country suffering from inflation levels not seen in decades, Americans are finding it more difficult to find and afford the foods they need.
Turkey has been especially scarce, leaving families bereft of the bird with Thanksgiving approaching, but perhaps no one has suffered more than Buddy the Cat, who normally subsists almost entirely on turkey.
“Our forecasts show things are not going to improve even after Thanksgiving,” said James McCann, a supply chain analyst and economist at Boston University. “That’s bad news for American families and the larger economy, but it’s terrible news for Buddy the Cat.”
Buddy’s hopes were further dashed on Thursday when his human servant logged onto Chewy.com and found his favorite brands of wet turkey on back order.
Pet food manufacturers have been “working hard to make sure America’s pets are getting the nutrition they need,” said Jan Schroeder, communications director for the National Association of Yums.
“We realize this has been hard on cats, especially Buddy,” Schroeder said. “The situation is urgent, and Buddy needs his turkey. That’s why we’ve asked suppliers to expedite shipments of the good stuff, particularly to Buddy’s home state of New York.”
But suppliers may not realize how dire things really are. Back in New York, Buddy’s once-loud meow has become a scratchy mew as his body reacts to the lack of turkey.
“Can’t…survive…much longer,” Buddy said as he was forced to eat Blue Buffalo chicken treats and moist salmon Bursts. “Need…turkey. When will…this nightmare…be over?”