As pet food manufacturers worry about sustainability, cricket cat food could become the next big thing.
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 cricket cat food for our feline family members. Are you ready for ground-up crickets in a can? Ugh…
Arsiwalla was a presenter at a Petfood Forum Europe. His topic: insect-based ingredients in cat and dog food. Yuck…
But while just the thought of cricket cat food 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 For Both Pets And Humans?
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 bodies of poultry and pork and 40 percent of the bodies 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.