March 24, 2010
Speaking of animal byproducts… I recently learned that in addition to toxins, there may also be animal byproducts in some of my makeup. Yuck. Well, apparently that’s not the only place animal byproducts have been lurking around my house. Unbeknownst to me, it is also in my cat’s food.
Okay, I get it. It’s a cat, right? Don’t they eat animals anyway? What’s the big deal? Trust me, I grew up in a cat family. My parents always had at least one at a time. I can recall countless times of seeing the cat(s) kill mice, rats, gophers, birds, et al, and then leaving them at the back door as a show of love. So yes – cats do eat animals. Animals. Not animal byproduct, which can consist of chicken feet, chicken heads, turkey feet, fish heads, duck bills, feathers, intestines, lungs, spleens, kidneys, brains, livers, hides, and bone. If memory serves me, those were usually the icky bits that our cats left behind. Shoot. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure our cats ever even ate the animals they killed. I think it was done more for the sport of it all.
But if that doesn’t gross you out, maybe this will – some pet food includes the following ingredients: meat/meat meal/bone meal/animal protein, which is really a nicer word for dead pets/animals/roadkill from vet offices/humane societies/pounds, or 4D cattle (disabled, diseased, dying, dead) that have been ground up in rendering factories – and this is perfectly legal. Shoot, dead animals have to be disposed of somehow, right? I guess I never thought of what happens to pets that people have euthanized and then leave at their vets office, or animals that die at the pound before they can be adopted, or roadkill that the Humane Society scrapes up and hauls away.
I understand that dead animals need to be… dealt with. But I don’t want them to wind up in the food I feed my living animal. Can you imagine if that’s how dead people were disposed of? Sick. Not to mention that when euthanized animals end up in pet food, so does the very drug used to kill them (sodium pentobarbital). So whenever my cat eats, she could be absorbing some level of a drug that could kill her. That can not be good.
Now I did read that it is less common for companies to use rendered pets in their food, and that “meat” only means cows, pigs, sheep, or goats. But the reality is that it is not against the law to use other sources of animal protein. Shoot, even the President of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials – the group responsible for regulating pet food), admitted that there is no waying of knowing if the animal byproduct comes from a cow or from Fluffy. And a document published by the EPA also admits that euthanized pets go into pet food.
If I had known, I would not have been feeding my cat any of these ingredients. If I had known. But, this is yet another area in my life where I was shopping blindly. So I’ve done a little research, and found two different brands to try (I typically like to mix more than one brand together anyway).
The first is Nutro Natural Choice Indoor Healthy Weight Adult. (Yes, my cat is a fatty fatty two-by-four. Hmmm, I wonder why?) It does not contain chicken byproduct meal, ground corn, artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Wait, what’s wrong with ground corn, you ask? Corn, wheat, and soy are often used in pet food as fillers. They offer little nutritional value, do not keep your pet full like a healthy protein will, and are hard to digest, so often get passed right out anyway. Instead this cat food contains: chicken meal (which is chicken with the water removed, which increases the protein content), ground rice, sunflower oil, soybean oil, herring meal, dried carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, water cress, spinach, tomato, fish oil, cranberry, chicory root, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. (Avg. cost: $11.99 – 3.5 lbs, $19.99 – 7 lbs, $34.99 – 15.5 lbs)
The second brand I tried is By Nature Weight Control Formula  (again, in an attempt to keep my cat from looking like a total Garfield). It also does not contain meat byproducts, corn, wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. Instead the ingredient list reads like things I eat, well almost: chicken meal, ground barley, ground oats, ground brown rice, salmon meal, duck meal, flaxseed meal, fish oil, alfalfa meal, tomato, sweet potatoes, carrots, blueberries, cranberries, dried chicory root, raspberries, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals. (Avg. cost: $10.99 – 3.5 lbs, $19.29 – 7 lbs)
Does this cat food cost more? Yes, of course it does. But here’s how I see it – I have one cat, and store her food in a plastic airtight bin, so it stays fresh longer. My cat eats less of this food, and not because it tastes bad, but rather because it doesn’t have the empty fillers, so she stays full longer. I don’t have to replace her food as often anymore, which also cuts cost. I usually buy a 7 lb bag of one food, and a 3.5 lb bag of another, and mix the two. So I spend about $30 each time I buy food. Now that may seem like alot, but here’s the thing – how can I say $30 for a few months worth of healthy food for my cat is outrageous, but then turn around and drop $30 on one meal out for my daughter and I, that lasts one hour. Seriously. Not to mention the vet expenses it will save me down the road.
References:  ‘Do you really know what’s in your pet’s food?’ Video. http://www.lifesabundance.com/Pets/Cats.aspx?realname=40032957&cat=0&hdr=&Ath=False, and ‘The True Horrors of Pet Food Revealed.’ Article. http://www.naturalnews.com/012647.html.  http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?more=1&p=359.  http://bullmarketfrogs.com/blog/2010/08/aafco-admits-rendered-pets-in-pet-food/.  http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/articles/epa-document-proves-euthanized-dogs-and-cats-are-rendered.html?sms_ss=twitter.  http://wwww.nutroproducts.com/natural-choice-cat/indoor-adult-healthy-weight-management-cat-food-chicken-meal-rice-formula.aspx.  http://www.petlanehome.com/blog/?p=2300.  http://www.bynaturepetfoods.com/productpages/weightcontrol.php
Image Source: Makris, Katerina L. “Dead Dogs and Cats Barrels.” Photo. AnimalBeat.org Publication date unknown. 15 Mar. 2011. <http://www.animalbeat.org/missy.html>.