Tag: pet food

Temptations Releases ‘Tasty Human’ Flavor Treats For Halloween

I’ve never been more grateful that I’ve weaned Buddy off of Temptations.

The treats, which are famously irresistible to cats thanks to some strange alchemy that definitely isn’t healthy for them, now come in Tasty Human flavor in a new promotion for Halloween. (They’re heavy on corn and other fillers, as usual, but the meat ingredients in Tasty Human flavor come from chicken, liver and beef. Apparently we taste like KFC and burgers.)

The commercial spots are clever and humorous.

“I read that if our cats were bigger, they’d try to eat us!” a man whispers as ominous music plays and his cute cat grooms himself in the background. “So this Halloween, I’m gonna keep him satisfied with these.”

The man tosses a nervous look over his shoulder at his cat as the music swells with a horror movie-style orchestral stab, then he shakes the bag.

I won’t be buying any.

The popular cat treats are made by Mars, the almost $40 billion pet food and candy multinational that has had its own significant controversies, particularly with the use of slave labor in sourcing particular ingredients. Many of its pet food brands, such as Whiskas, are loaded with cheap carbohydrates and use by-product meal as their primary protein sources.

But I stopped feeding the Budster Temptations before I knew any of that, and for an entirely different reason: The little guy turned into a full-fledged kitty crack addict when he ate them.

Like any cat, Bud loves his treats, but when I fed him Temptations he had a one-track mind: The first thing he’d do in the morning was follow me to the kitchen, sit in front of the treat cabinet and meow incessantly for his precious Temps. It got to the point where he was turning his nose up at wet food he’d always liked and pestering me for Temptations instead. He was going full-on Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

I weaned him off once, stupidly folded less than a year later when I bought a bag for him on impulse (we were out of treats and the grocery store did not have any other kind), and had to wean him off the kitty crack a second time when he returned to his cracktastic ways.

Nowadays the little dude gets natural treats with non by-product meat as the main ingredients, and he behaves like a normal cat: He still loves his snacks, but he doesn’t ignore his wet food and howl at me for kitty crack.

tl;dr: Serve the Temps at your own risk. 🙂

Reason #488 To Keep Your Cats Indoors: They Hunt Whether They’re Hungry Or Not

A new study from the UK debunks the claim that cats need access to the outdoors to supplement their diets with wild kills.

Cats who spend a significant amount of time outdoors and regularly kill local wildlife still get 96 percent of their nutrition from meals provided by their humans, according to research by a team at the University of Exeter.

The scientists connected with cat owners through ads on social media, TV and in print publications, specifically seeking out “cat owners living throughout southwest England whose cats regularly captured wild animals and brought them back to the house,” the study’s authors said.

They gave the owners a questionnaire to collect some basic information on the kitties — age, sex, breed, whether they had unrestricted access to the outdoors, and how much time they spend outside — then split the 90 participating cats into six groups.

Cat hunting
A domestic tabby cat stalking in the grass. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

To set a baseline, the scientists trimmed small sections of whisker from each of the cats, then trimmed a second sample at the end of the study.

By comparing stable isotope ratios in the whisker samples, they were able to determine what the cats were eating. Despite regular access to the outdoors and successful hunts, pet food accounted for the vast majority of their diets.

As a result, the researchers concluded, outdoor cats hunt because they’re driven by predatory instinct, not hunger.

“When food from owners is available, our study shows that cats rely almost entirely on this for nutrition,” said Martina Cecchetti, the study’s lead author.

“Some owners may worry about restricting hunting because cats need nutrition from wild prey, but in fact, it seems even prolific hunters don’t actually eat much of the prey they catch,” Cecchetti said. “As predators, some cats may hunt instinctively even if they are not hungry – so-called ‘surplus killing’ – to capture and store prey to eat later.”

A second component of the study was designed to find the best mitigation strategy to change the behavior of outdoor cats.

Each group was given a different strategy: In one group, cats were outfitted with bells on their collars, while another group wore reflective break-away collars and cats from a third group were fitted with BirdBeSafe collars. The other groups were told to make habit changes inside the home. For example, one set of cats was fed a higher-protein diet without grain filler, another group was fed with puzzle feeders, and the last group was given extra interactive play time.

While high-protein diets and play time helped cut down on hunting, the BirdBeSafe collars had the biggest impact on hunting success. The collars come in bright colors designed to stand out to avian eyes, taking away stealth and the element of surprise from cats.

The study was sponsored by Songbird Survival, a British non-profit that funds bird conservation research and looks for ways to mitigate the dwindling numbers of many avian species.

Susan Morgan, Songbird Survival’s executive director, said her group hopes cat owners will do their part to help: “Pet owners can help us reverse the shocking decline in songbirds via three simple, ‘win-win’ steps: fit collars with a Birdsbesafe cover; feed cats a premium meaty diet; play with cats for five to ten minutes a day to ‘scratch that itch’ to hunt.”

Of course there’s an obvious solution the study didn’t include: Keeping cats indoors. While keeping cats indoors is common in the US, cat ownership culture in the UK is different — another subject for another post.

Read the full text of the study here. Header image credit Pexels. Body images credit BeSafeCollar.

Previously:

1024px-Florida_panther_kittens
A pair of young mountain lions in Florida. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/WOConservation

Buddy’s Solution To National Cat Food Shortage

Dear Friends,

It has come to my attention that our human servants are experiencing unprecedented difficulty in locating and purchasing canned cat food, commonly known as yums, due to Coronavirus-related warehouse and logistical challenges.

The companies that make yums have had facilities intermittently closed due to COVID breakouts, leading to shortages which have been compounded by the logistical problems as delivery systems are already overwhelmed.

There can be only one solution to this most serious of problems: Humans must share their food!

Effective immediately, I call on all humans to share their yums with us, and no skimping!

If you’re having filet mignon for dinner, Fluffy better get some too. I would also urge every one of you to increase your turkey consumption, setting aside generous portions for your feline overlords.

Not only is turkey delicious, but it increases the body’s immune response to viruses like COVID-19, according to the Buddy Center for Scientific Research. (This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.)

Do the right thing, humans. Share your food!

Your friend,
Buddy the Cat

Look at da yums
“Look at it. So juicy and delicious…”

OK Seriously, What’s With All The Turkey?

You may have noticed that turkey is a frequent topic of conversation on this blog, and since we’ve had new readers join us it’s a good time to explain just what the hell is going on with my cat’s fowl obsession.

It’s simple: Buddy really loves turkey.

I first noticed it when he was about 10 weeks old. Like most cats he enjoys all kinds of food, but when I fed him turkey one day, he scarfed every last bit of it down, licking his bowl clean.

When he was finished he looked like the happiest kitten in the world, sitting there licking his lips enthusiastically, sopping up every stray morsel before letting loose a tiny, satisfied belch.

Buddy Drooling At Turkey
“The turkey!”

Before adopting Bud, I’d read enough cautionary stories about finicky cats who’ll only eat a certain kind of meat, in only one texture, from a particular cat food company.

Not only does food become perfunctory for those cats, but if the cat food company discontinues the product, both cat and owner are in for frustration that could stretch for weeks of trial and error. Finding an acceptable alternative is usually an expensive, wasteful process as kitty repeatedly turns his or her nose up at substitutes.

Heeding the cautionary advice of those devoted cat servants, I fed as much variety as was possible from the very beginning. Bud eats salmon, chicken, beef, tuna, shrimp and duck, among other varieties when available.

He genuinely enjoys his meals thanks to the variety, and I’d recommend the same strategy for anyone else bringing a new kitten home. Get ’em started early and you won’t have a picky cat.

But for Bud, nothing compares to turkey. No other food prompts such meows of pure joy, or the urgency with which he leads me to his dining nook when he knows his bowl is filled with yummy turkey goodness, frequently looking over his shoulder to make sure I’m just a step behind him with his beloved turkey.

It’s been that way since he was a baby, and in more than six years it hasn’t changed.

So for Buddy, life’s finest things are turkey, catnip, napping, napping on top of his Big Buddy, and turkey.

Cat Food Is Loaded With Mystery Ingredients, Study Says

We’ve all heard the oft-quoted factoid claiming domestic cats kill billions of birds and small animals every year, and unsurprisingly that number is contested and controversial.

One reason skeptics doubt those numbers is because researchers didn’t observe cat behavior and extrapolate the ecological impact — they handed out questionnaires to owners and asked them how often their cats brought dead animals home. To get accurate results, researchers have to be confident people are answering honestly and have reliable memories. It’s really not the best way to do a study.

So a team at North Carolina State University came up with a better way to measure cat predation on wildlife: They’d take hair samples from more than 400 cats, which would reveal how much of their diets consist of cat food versus prey.

Hair analysis can reveal different isotopes, so the team would be able to directly note each cat’s diet by distinguishing between pet food isotopes and those from prey animals. As the team explained:

A common way to understand the composition of animal diets is to collect samples of fur, nails, or blood from an animal and analyze its carbon and nitrogen isotopes. All organic materials contain isotopes of elements that get locked into body tissues, following the basic principle that you are what you eat. For example, the ratios of nitrogen isotopes present in carnivores are dependably distinct from those of plant eaters. Similarly, researchers can distinguish the types of plants that an animal eats by measuring the ratio of carbon isotopes.

It was a good idea, but the study was derailed by an unexpected discovery: No one knows what the heck is in pet food.

Cat food manufacturers fill their products with mystery ingredients, the team found, which means one bag of kibble or one can of wet food doesn’t have the same ingredients as the next, even if they’re the same flavor from the same company.

Cat Eating
Although they can meow in protest, our cats can’t tell us their food tastes different. (Source)

Additionally, pet food manufacturers can — and do — change what they put in their products without notifying customers or acknowledging the changes on the packaging.

As a result, the research team couldn’t identify which isotopes were from cat food and which ones were from hunted meals.

“We really thought this was going to be an ideal application of the isotope methodology,” said scientist Roland Kays, a co-author of the study. “Usually these studies are complicated by the variety of food a wild animal eats, but here we had the exact pet food people were giving their cats.”

That discovery essentially rendered the study useless for its original purpose, but like all good scientists, the North Carolina State team realized that failure reveals just as much as success, even if it’s not necessarily what you’re looking for.

They published their results in the journal PeerJ, explaining what they’d learned.

“This isn’t what we aimed to study, but it is important in as much as there are hundreds of millions of cats (perhaps more) on Earth,” said Rob Dunn, a professor in NC State’s Department of Applied Ecology and co-author of the study. “The diets of cats, dogs and domestic animals have enormous consequences for global sustainability, cat health and much else. But they are very non-transparent. In short, at the end of this study we are still ignorant about why some cats kill more wildlife than others, and we have also found we are ignorant about something else, the shifting dynamics of ‘Big Pet Food.'”

kitteneating
A happy kitten. (Source: ICanHazCheezburger)

As veterinarian Shawn Messonnier put it in an editorial for Pet Age, “the pet food industry remains shrouded in mystery about what’s really inside the pet food bag and how it’s created.”

Calling for more transparency in the manufacture and packaging of pet food, Messonnier pointed out ingredients can have a drastic effect on the health of our furry friends.

“For pet parents, a big leap of faith is required of them because unlike fresh human food, you can’t visually verify the ingredients used, their sources, freshness or the safeness of their handling,” he wrote. “Label language can be difficult to discern, too, so people rely mostly on the observations and opinions of friends and family they trust. Inevitably, people hope what goes in the bowl will translate into well-being and happiness for their dog or cat.”