I talk a lot about food on this blog – discussing not only what we consume, but how we consume it: the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, I realised the other day that there is an entire segment of the food industry that I haven’t even glanced at – the pet food industry.
In Search of Cat Food
This particular bolt out of the blue came upon me when I was paying what felt like blood money to the pet store for our cats’ food last week. Like – my god – how expensive are my cats!? My interest got piqued, so I decided to do some research into the wide (and wild) world of pet food. This led me to the insane sub-culture of deluxe pet food.
Let me put it into perspective for you. I have two cats – Cosmo and Timbit – and they are the loves of my life. While I’m a pretty frugal person, when it comes to my cats, I tend to think that nothing is too good for them. So instead of going to the supermarket and picking up a giant bag of whatever, I researched what kind of food is going to be best for their health, experimented with which flavours they found to be their favourite, and go out of my way to a particular pet store which supplies both the wet and dry foods they prefer. It ends up being a fairly expensive endeavour, and I probably spend around $75 to $100 on cat food alone in a month.
Super Premium Pet Food
So, take my over-the-top behaviour and compare it to the ‘super premium’ pet food market. The most expensive cat food in the world will set you back approximately $1060 per month – and it includes line-caught Scottish salmon, Norfolk lobster, Devonshire crab, and caviar. Actual caviar. I mean, I’m part of the generation that has fully embraced infantilising our pets, but does my cat really need fresh salmon and caviar? Cosmo and Timbit will sometimes even reject a cut-up piece of steak that I lovingly give them from my own plate!
Turns out, however, that the pet food trend is moving towards more ‘palatable’ deluxe food, at least from our human perspective. Pet food, according to the Atlantic, is becoming more ‘human grade’ – because we see our pets less as animals who essentially work for us, and more as children or fully-fledged family members in their own right. Mirroring human buying habits, our spending on our dogs and cats has tended towards the healthy, non-GMO, and fresh varieties.
Taking it out of the companies’ hands entirely are some people who actually make their own pet food – yes, these people actually exist. While I initially took a look at this and thought that it was a little weird, it turns out that people who make homemade dog and cat food are very well-intentioned people who just want to make sure that their furry friends get the nutrition they need and make recipes to do just that. I think it’s actually quite noble – and I might even be tempted to try mixing some vegetables into my cats’ very meaty diet.
But that would involve a lot of time I don’t have right now. Although I’m sure my cats would love to live the life of Choupette with their own apartment, private chef, and designer crockery, I think I’d like to keep them a little more down to earth. I’m still the one who cleans their litterbox, after all.