Tag Archives: Cat Food

Goodbye Drs. Foster And Smith

Drs. Foster and Smith’s website is gone but not forgotten.

 

Is this cat napping on an old Drs. Foster and Smith catalog?

Is this cat napping on an old Drs. Foster and Smith catalog?

Back in the day, my cats and I loved finding a Drs. Foster and Smith catalog in our mailbox. 

We thought there was way too much dog stuff, but we always found a few cat items to buy. Our first floor-to-ceiling cat tree came in a huge box from Drs. Foster and Smith.


That was before there was an Internet and online retailers. And more important to Drs. Foster and Smith, it was before there was a giant pet supply company called Petco.  


Petco purchased Drs. Foster and Smith in 2015. It shut the company down last winter and moved its online services to Petco’s website.



Changing Times, Changing ‘Pet Parents’

Cat Food Trends — New Ingredients To Look For In 2019

Honey, coconut and turmeric are among the ingredients to watch in cat food trends this year.

 

Food with coconut milk or oil, like Solid Gold's, is a cat food trend to watch for.

Food with coconut milk or oil, like Solid Gold’s, is a cat food trend to watch for.

Coming soon to the front of your cat food cans and bags: turmeric, honey and coconut. Think of them as biohacking for cats and the newest cat food trends to look for in 2019. 

Biohacking for humans has been around for years, although many of us have never heard of it. The simple definition of biohacking is adding nutrients or more natural foods to your regular diet to improve your health and quality of life. 

But like so many human food trends, biohacking is now making its way into the cat food market. Enter turmeric, honey and coconut. 

Cat Food Trends – Ingredients With A Purpose

Cricket Cat Food – The Next Big Thing?

Is cricket cat food the next big thing?
Could crickets replace meat
as a protein source in cat food?

Okay,
so cats eat bugs all the time. If you were a cat, you’d probably love
nothing more than chowing down on a freshly-caught fly or cricket.
Eeeuuu…

But Tarique Arsiwalla, a co-founder of Protix
Biosystems, a company that markets insects as “the next protein
commodity,” is hoping we humans will overcome the yuck factor and
consider food made of bugs for our cats. Are you ready for ground up
crickets in a can? EEEuuuu…

Arsiwalla will be one of the
presenters at the 2015 Petfood Forum Europe in June. His topic:
insect-based ingredients in cat and dog food. Ugh…
But
while just the thought may give you the creepy crawlies, pet food made
from insects might be in our cats’ not-so-distant future. Although our
planet could probably sustain an infinite number of bugs, that’s not
true of the animals who become food for us and our dogs and cats.


Are We Running Out Of Food?

As
the world population of humans and companion animals continues to grow,
the currently available supply of protein won’t be able to keep up with
the demand, Petfood Industry editor-in-chief Debbie Phillips-Donaldson says in her blog.
But
no matter how hard we try to eradicate them, insects are always in
abundant supply. And they’re far more efficient in food conversion than
farm animals are.


Writing for his PetMD blog,
veterinarian Ken Tudor says crickets require only a half pound of food
to produce one pound of body weight, while It takes 20 pounds of grain
to produce a pound of beef, 10 pounds to produce a pound of pork and
five pounds to produce a pound of fish or chicken.



Eighty
percent of a cricket’s body is edible compared to only 55 percent of the
body of poultry and pork and 40 percent of the body of cattle, Tudor
says. And “insects,
particularly mealworms, provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids that
are comparable to the amounts found in meat and fish.” Mealworms?
Eeeeuuu…



In his blog, Tudor notes that nearly
one-third of the world’s human population includes insects as part of
the daily diet. And the owners of small reptiles and some birds already
feed insects to their pets.



But cats’ nutritional needs are much different from reptiles’ and birds’,
and I wonder if insects would be an appropriate source of protein for
our obligate carnivores, who need meat from animal sources to be
healthy.



I’m all for sustainability, and I don’t eat meat
myself. But for my cats, I think I’ll pass on the next big thing and
continue giving them food that contains meat. If they crave crickets,
they can catch them themselves. It’s probably the thrill of the hunt
that makes them taste so good, and I imagine they’d be less appealing if
they came out of a can.



Could you overcome the yuck factor and
feed your cats insect-based food? I’d love to know, so feel free to
post your comments below.


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People Food Goes To The Dogs (And Cats) With Smucker’s Purchase of Rachel Ray Nutrish

With Smucker's purchase of Rachel Ray Nutrish, could people food be going to the dogs?

Unlike its cat food category, J.M. Smucker’s people food business is in a bit of a jam. As Americans put more thought into what they eat, packaged food sales are stagnant and even declining. And that could explain Smucker’s purchase of Rachel Ray Nutrish (Ainsworth Pet Nutrition).

For years, cat food has tried to sound like people food. You know… “white meat chicken breast,” “garden greens,” “wild caught fish” and “cooked in a delicate sauce…” But now, things seem to be going the other way. Could people food really be going to the dogs (and cats)?

Smucker’s purchase of Rachel Ray Nutrish is the second buyout by a large company of a premium pet food manufacturer this year. In February, General Mills announced plans to purchase Blue Buffalo.

Candy Makers Sweet On Cat Food

Smucker isn’t the only manufacturer of food for people that’s sweet on cat food. Mars, best known for M&Ms and Skittles, makes Whiskas, Royal Canin, Nutro, Greenies, Iams and Eukanuba.

Nestle (think Butterfinger and KitKat candy bars and hot chocolate) makes Fancy Feast, ProPlan, Purina One, Friskies, Purina Cat Chow and Muse.

In 2015 Smucker purchased Big Heart Pet Brands, which makes 9Lives, Meow Mix, Pounce treats, Nature’s Recipe and Natural Balance.

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So why would a company that started more than 100 years ago with apple butter and other sweet fruit products, have an appetite for a seventh company that makes cat food?

While the market for jams and jellies may be spread thin, a press release announcing Smucker’s purchase of Rachel Ray Nutrish notes that “pet food and pet snacks have become the largest center-of-the-store category in the US Food and Beverage market, generating over $30 billion in annual sales across all channels.” In supermarkets, it’s pet food, not people food, that’s one of the fastest-growing categories, the press release adds.

At Smucker, it’s not just the fastest-growing category. With the acquisition of Rachel Ray Nutrish, it’s the company’s largest.

Ainsworth Pet Nutrition also makes Dad’s dry cat food and private label brands for pet food retailers.

Today’s Recommendation
Tiki Cat is not owned by a huge
corporation, at least not yet. And
cats love it. 

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Chewy’s New Call Center Opens With 1,000 ‘Kind’ Customer Service Reps

Looking for someone to talk to in the middle of the night. If the topic is cat food, try giving Chewy's new call center a ring.

Looking for someone to talk to in the middle of the night? If the topic is cat food, you could give Chewy.com a ring. Chewy’s new call center opened last month in Hollywood, Fla. with 1,000 “kind” people poised to deliver 24/7 customer service, 365 days a year.

Four hundred more customer service reps are in the process of joining the team now.

Even more than selection and price, it’s customer service that makes Chewy a different breed of retailer. Customer service reps answer phone calls within two rings and respond to emails within half an hour. The retailer sends handwritten Christmas cards to customers and flowers and sympathy cards to Chewy shoppers who have lost their animal companions.

Not happy with your order? The customer service rep might send you a replacement and tell you to donate the one you already have to a local shelter.

Chewy’s New Call Center: Working In A Sea Of Cubicle

The company aims to hire people who are “kind,” goal-driven and love to talk and engage customers. They work in a 100,000-square-feet space that, from the pictures, looks like a sea of cubicles.

Chewy’s new call center used to be home to a Sears and Woolworth’s. If you hear a dog barking in the background when you call, that’s because employees are allowed to bring their small animal companions to work.

But The First Idea Was Hardly Chewy

Chewy founders Ryan Cohen and Michael Day met online. Their first venture was a website where they sold jewelry. They were at a trade show when they realized they had no passion for an industry they knew very little about.

But Cohen did have a passion — his teacup poodle. He’s one of those people who thinks of himself as a pet parent, not a pet owner. It occurred to him that there are lots of people like him, and they’ll spare no expense to keep their four-legged family members healthy and happy. 

Chew On This 

Cohen and Day started Chewy.com in 2011. Last year, they sold the company to PetSmart for $3.35 billion, the largest e-commerce acquisition in history.
Soon after the acquisition, several cat food manufacturers stopped making their brands available on Chewy.com. But the shoppers just keep coming, maybe because of the customer service from what Chewy calls the Wow Team.

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New! Your Cats Can Catch Some Bargains With Amazon Pet Profiles

Your cat can now earn discount and coupons with Amazon Pet Profiles.

Maybe your cats can’t do their own shopping on Amazon… yet. But they can receive their own “purrsonalized”  recommendations and coupons with Amazon Pet Profiles.

The Amazon Pet Profiles are new and could give the retailer an even larger share of the online pet supply market.

According to the most recent American Pet Product Association’s National Pet Owners Survey, Amazon had the lion’s share of online pet supply shoppers with 54 percent. Chewy.com, the retailer I thought was everybody’s favorite, was far behind Amazon, Petsmart.com and Walmart.com with just 18 percent.


How To Do Amazon Pet Profiles

 Your cats can catch some bargains on Amazon if you choose Pet Supplies on Amazon’s list of departments. Then click on Pet Profile in the second horizontal menu.

My cat, Belle, and I just did this, and she was disappointed in the coupons. She eats only wet food, but all the food coupons were for dry. And she thought the one toy that came with a coupon looked boring. She was really hoping for a coupon for a Yeowww Catnip toy or maybe a tub of super potent silvervine. But there weren’t any of those.

Most of the suggestions were based on my past purchases (Belle doesn’t have any past purchases of her own because she doesn’t shop on Amazon).

I live with more cats who want their own Amazon Pet Profiles. What they’re hunting for is catnip coupons. We could use lots of those.


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Blue Buffalo Trades Some Snob Appeal For A New Breed Of Buyers

Next time you’re at Kroeger, Publix, Meijer or Target, don’t be surprised if you see Blue Buffalo in the pet food aisle. The company recently joined the stampede of other premium cat supply manufacturers to the mass market.

For me, Blue lost some of its panache when it starting showing up at PetCo and Petsmart. They’ve always felt like the mass market to me. But now, Blue is stepping down another rung to make its entry-level Life Protection Formula available to a whole new group of shoppers at Target and the supermarkets.

There could be a good reason for this. According to the Packaged Facts blog, Blue acknowledges that its pet supply superstore sales have slowed as more and more people shop for cat food online.

Joining The Superpremium Herd


Iams and Newman’s Own cat food have been available in supermarkets for years. So have The World’s Best Cat Litter and Swheat Scoop. But as pet supply superstore sales decline, other high-end products have joined them on the supermarket shelves.

Among them: Purina Beyond, I and Love and You, Rachel Ray Nutrish and Crave.

Just The Crumbs

In a letter to independent retailers, Modestino Mele, Blue’s senior vice president of North American sales, said the move to mass retailers is part of the company’s go-to-market strategy. But it turns out that only the crumbs will be going to the mass market.

Just Blue’s entry-level Life Protection Formula will be available at the supermarkets. Shoppers will find smaller bag sizes, and more mainstream ingredients, wet food and treats. Blue’s other product lines — Wilderness, Basics, Freedom and Earth’s Essentials — will still be available only at pet specialty stores.

It’s What’s In The Cat Food Can That Counts

Wherever you shop, check the ingredients in your cat’s food before you buy. Even the superpremium foods might contain ingredients you don’t want your cat to eat. For instance, some Beyond wet food flavors contain potato starch, and others contain sweet potatoes or wild rice. And for some reason, I and Love and You adds things like cranberries, carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes to some of its wet food flavors. 
Cats are obligate carnivores and need protein from animal sources. What they don’t need are fruits and veggies. 
I’m the first to admit that I’m a cat food snob. I prefer to give my cats wet food that contains just the protein sources named on the can. But if I’m going to feed something that contains a hodgepodge of stuff, we’ll probably stay with Fancy Feast Classics. At least they’re all meat, with no extras added in. And these species-appropriate foods cost a lot less than the superpremium brands. That matters when you’re feeding six cats! 

Chewy.com – PetSmart Comes; Cat Food Vendors Go

Orijen dry cat food is no longer available on Chewy.com

Looking online for Orijen or Acana cat food? Tell your mouse to skip past Chewy.com. Champion Petfoods, the manufacturer of both brands, is leaving Chewy, citing its acquisition by PetSmart.

Other companies to part ways with the online retailer since the PetSmart acquisition are Fromm Family Foods and Tuffy’s Pet Foods, the makers of Pure Vita and other brands.

In a note to customers on its Facebook page, Fromm says it’s a “fifth generation family owned-and-operated company with a long history of selling our products exclusively to independent pet retailers.

“We believe our products are best sold by retailers who know our product and can offer pet parents what’s right for their specific dog or cat,” the note adds. “As a result of Chewy’s sale to PetSmart, they are no longer an authorized retailer of Fromm Products.”


Champion takes its support of independent retailers a step further by pointing out on its website that PetSmart (add Chewy here), Amazon, Walmart (which owns Jet.com) and eBay are not authorized Orijen or Acana dealers.

But while the websites themselves are not authorized dealers, many of the cat products available on Amazon, Jet.com and, of course, eBay are sold by independent retailers.


Supporting Brick And Mortar Stores?

It seems that independent retailer can mean different things to different people. Despite its size and predatory pricing practices, Fromm, Champion and Tuffy’s considered Chewy an independent retailer until it was acquired by PetSmart. Pet Valu is a large company with brick and mortar stores, but are it franchisees independent retailers?
In it’s blog, Tuffy’s makes no bones about nudging consumers towards locally owned brick and mortar pet supply stores, where you’ll find in-store promotions, free samples and sales associates with in-depth product knowledge. Some offer delivery services, Tuffy’s blog points out, and some have their own e-commerce websites. 
But most don’t. And for many of us, the convenience of shopping online and not having to drag heavy bags full of cat food into the house are more important than all the in-store promotions and coupons in the world.
So while some vendors may be going, I don’t see Chewy’s customers (I’m not one of them) leaving anytime soon. It’s just too easy to let your mouse do the walking and the FedEx driver do the heavy lifting. 
That said, when our local independent retailers offer online shopping and affordable shipping, I’ll be right there. 

Eeeuuu… Black Fly Larvae Cat Food?

Will food containing insect ingredients soon fill this cat's crystal dish?

Here’s something to put at the very top of your Eeeuuu List:
black soldier fly larvae as an ingredient in cat food.



If just the thought gives you the creepy-crawlies, the good news is that cat food containing black soldier fly larvae probably won’t be showing up on your pet supply retailer’s shelves anytime soon.


EnviroFlight, the company that’s producing the ingredient, began construction of its plant just last month. It expects production to reach capacity in the first quarter of next year, and the first taste testers will probably be poultry and farmed fish. That gives you some time to get used to the idea of your cat eating fly larvae that came from a factory. Eeeuuu…


In Pet Food, It’s All About Sustainability

As unappealing as the thought is to us, insects may be the next big thing in cat food ingredients. 



Look at it this way. While our planet could probably sustain an infinite number of bugs, that’s not true of the animals who provide food for us and our cats and dogs.


There was a time when pet food was inherently sustainable because it used the leftovers from human meat processing. But many cat food buyers have different standards these days. They want their cats’ food to be of the same quality as theirs. To meet the growing demand for “organic” and “natural” food, the pet food industry purchases over 16.5 billion pounds of meat, poultry, seafood and grains to feed our animal companions.



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The jury — or in this case, the Association of American Feed Control Officials — is still out on the nutritional value of insects as an ingredient in cat food. But writing for his PetMD blog, veterinarian Ken Tudor suggests crickets could become a nutritious ingredient for cat food.


Eighty percent of a cricket’s body is edible compared to only 55 percent of the body of poultry and pork and 40 percent of the body of cattle, Tudor says. And “insects, particularly meal worms, provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids that are comparable to the amounts found in meat and fish.”


Could be. But I could be a very hard sell when it comes to feeding my obligate carnivores food that uses black fly larvae or crickets as a protein source. While I’m willing to do my part for sustainability by not eating or wearing any animal products at all, my cats shouldn’t have to pay with their health for human greed.


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And then there’s the yuck factor. Feeding our cats food that contains factory-produced black fly larvae might be too much of a stretch for many of us. It certainly would be for me. If my cats want to eat flies, they can catch them themselves. They’re actually very good at that. And catching a fly and then eating it is a lot more rewarding than chowing down on insects that came out of a can.

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‘Smart’ Cat Bowl — Your New ‘Purrsonal’ Assistant?

The Obe ProBowl monitors your cat's food intake and more

New in the How Much Cat Care Help Do We Really Need category: A “smart” bowl for cats. It lets you know whether you’ve already fed your cat and  how much she ate. And when the cat food’s running low, the smart bowl will use Amazon’s Dash Replenishment service to order more.

All you need to make this purrsonal assistant work is an Obe ProBowl or two, WiFi and, of course, your phone. You’ll need the ProBowl app, too.

Food For Thought From A Cat Bowl

The Obe ProBowl phone app provides information on your cat's food intake and more,

While your cats will probably let you know if you’ve forgotten to feed them, the ProBowl provides some other information that the cats might not share.

A smart scale weighs your cat’s food when you put it in the bowl so you know you’re feeding the correct amount. Then the scale tracks and reports on how much your cat’s eaten during the day. ProBowl can also track your cat’s water intake. Since it remembers everything your cat eats and drinks over time, it can alert you to changes you might not notice on your own.

The whisker-friendly bowl is dishwasher safe and has a smart base that connects to your WiFi and phone. A ring on the base lights up when you’ve put the correct amount of food in the bowl and changes from green to red to indicate the cat has been fed.

Last year, ProBowl won Nestle Purina’s first Pet Care Innovation Prize. It also won a 2016 Red Dot Product Design Award. The first bowls are expected to ship this spring.

Today’s Recommendation

More important than being smart is a bowl like this one, which is whisker friendly.

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