Tag: pet food

For Some Cats, Food Shortages Mean Hardship and Starvation

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.”

Angry Buddy
A visibly angry Buddy, pictured above, hasn’t had turkey in weeks.

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?”

 

 

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.