The lucrative pet food industry is now taking aim at cats.
When I was growing up, we had dogs (German shorthairs) and cats (domestic shorthairs, otherwise known as alley cats.). We fed the dogs Alpo, which, at the time, was canned horsemeat. The cats pretty much fed themselves as they were dedicated and ferocious mousers. Nevertheless, at dinner time, they, like the dogs, were fed meaty table scraps.
Our dogs and cats were healthy and happy animals, so much so that we only took them to the vet for neutering and rabies shots.
Sometime in the mid 70’s the pet food makers became an industry. The business men running the companies realized that making dog food with real meat was far too expensive. Replacing the meat with corn resulted in keeping more of the money they made without spending it as much. Selling corn as dog food, though, would be difficult, because the average dog owner knew that dogs were meat eaters, or carnivores.
However, dogs don’t buy dog food. Humans do it for them. It had already been proven beyond any doubt that changing a human’s mind is easy, if done with good marketing and the constant repetition of a lie. It’s far easier to change the human’s mind through propaganda than it is to reverse fifty or sixty million years of canine evolution.
Changing the customer’s mind was easy. It was accomplished by a three pronged propaganda campaign to convince people that corn was dog food.
The first prong was to wean the consumer from opening a can of real meat to opening a bag of cereal, or “kibble”.
Brain washing is easiest done when the subject is willing to be ‘re-educated’. You don’t need to use brute force when appealing to our emotions is cheaper and easier. The dog food industry launched an effective and entertaining (and ongoing) series of TV commercials. The dogs in the TV commercials were beautiful, happy, perfectly groomed purebreds. The jingles were catchy, and sung by adorable children playing with happy puppies. They were so effective that I can still remember the ads-and the jingles.
“My dog’s better than your dog ‘cuz he gets Ken-L-Ration”, sung in a boy’s boasting voice. “Gravy Train” had an adorable terrier, turning his head quizzically as a miniature 8 mule team, dog food laden wagon raced past him, driver cracking his minute whip. “Gravy Train” made its own gravy by just adding water! Just watch that tail-wagging, enthusiastic terrier gobbling a bowl of kibble! The dogs accepted it without complaint. Let’s not remind everyone that dogs are stomachs with feet. You don’t have to train a dog to eat.
Kibble almost immediately replaced canned food as the form of choice. It didn’t entirely replace canned dog food, though. The industry realized that some people were more willing to spend money on their dogs than they had previously thought, so they began to sell dog food in cans again, although this time, the cans were very small, and bore fancy labels with names like “Mighty Dog”. The contents were a mush of corn with beef or chicken scent added to convince the human opening the can that it contained meat, rather than corn. After all, we never actually TASTED the food, and the dogs couldn’t complain. (although when I was a kid, I DID taste the canned dog food. It smelt of sirloin steak, but was utterly tasteless.) The owner’s willingness to suspend common sense was based on the industry’s knowledge that the average dog owner was willing to spend more money on corn based dog food, as long as he believed that the industry had their dog’s health as its primary goal. While that is how it was marketed, nothing could be further from the truth.
The pet food industry is interested solely in profits, NOT whether their dog food is actually good for the dog. The industry’s goal is maximum profit from minimum capital. I won’t go into the industry’s purchasing dog food made in China that contained a cheap plastic filler called melamine. The resulting product killed dogs so quickly that the industry was forced to ‘fess up and yank melamine from their product lines. They continue, though, to bag corn and label it ‘dog food’.
The industry relied on consumer stupidity. Dog owners, may have been skeptical, but such doubts were silenced, again, through skillful marketing. Familiar TV celebrities were portrayed playing with their dogs. It made one feel as if the celebrity was a little more personable, because you knew something personal about him or her other than what you saw on their syndicated television show. Lorne Green, the lead actor of “Bonanza”, pushed a specific brand of dog food for years. We grew up watching Greene portray Ben Cartwright. We knew he was an honorable, decent man. He was the cowboy equivalent of your pastor. In the dog food ads, Greene threw a ball for a lovely retriever and then, as she raced away, intoned that she was “ten years old, that’s the equivalent of 70 years in human years.” The claim was that, because he fed her this one specific brand of dog food, his geriatric dog was still healthy and strong despite her age.
The second prong of the campaign was the kibble itself. Let’s face it, kibble is convenient. You can buy it in fifty pound bags. It doesn’t go bad. It’s easier to keep, handle, and feed than canned dog food. It takes far less time to fill a bowl with kibble than it is to open a can of dog food and spoon it out without the mess, or the can. You can use it as treats, putting a few kibbles in your pocket.
Their third propaganda technique gained real traction when the industry enlisted veterinarians in their campaign. Nothing gave the industry claims of the wholesomeness of their dog food more authenticity than the recommendation of a veterinarian. All the vet had to do to keep a nice chunk of money coming in was to parrot the industry’s propaganda. The advertising campaigns implied that veterinarians, canine nutritionists and ‘experts at research labs’ had conducted exhaustive research on the nutritional needs of dogs, and in doing so, had discovered an astonishing fact: that ‘dogs are omnivores.”
An “omnivore” is something that eats anything. In the common usage, it means omnivores eat a little meat and mostly vegetables.
Despite the fact that dogs, being canines, are carnivores, have the teeth and the digestive system of carnivores, hunt down and kill herbivores like carnivores, and lack the microbial gut bacteria required to break down cellulose and vegetable fiber (like cows do), the dog food makers insisted dogs were ‘omnivores”. The veterinarians solemnly, (and perhaps looking at the fat checks they were offered) proclaimed it true: that dogs were omnivores.
So much for eight or ten years of vet school teaching them the exact opposite.
I’ve found over the years that veterinarians, despite the fact that they work with animals, are NOT biologists. But they ARE businessmen who understand that a good marketing gimmick can keep the money coming in. If you hand the average veterinarian the skull of a big dog like an Akita or a Malamute, and the skull of a wolf, and IF he can tell the difference, he will still intone, straight faced, that the wolf is a carnivore and the dog is an omnivore.
Of course, it worked. It worked because we trust our medical men far more than is warranted. We trust our doctors to tell us the truth. Be it good or bad, our doctors tell us the truth about ourselves, because it’s in our best interest for it to be so.
You expect a salesman to lie to you, but your veterinarian? This man or woman loves dogs so much he became a dog doctor. He loves your dog. She knows all about dog nutrition. YOU are not a veterinarian, are you? If a dog doctor, like a human doctor, says a dog is an omnivore, by gosh, who are you to disagree?
Apparently, veterinarians don’t have to abide by the Hippocratic Oath.
The vets parrot the ‘dogs are omnivores’ line because it makes them money. The dog food companies make sure the vets are compensated for playing along with the charade. In fact, the vets turned it to their own advantage, and now sell ‘PRESCRIPTION” dog food, still made of corn, but with added mumbo-jumbo. They charge outrageous prices for the same food (in a different bag) that you can buy at your local supermarket. It’s still corn. The vets use another tried and true method of selling: fear and guilt. Your dog is sick and has to have this special food. If you truly loved your dog, you wouldn’t balk at paying 50 bucks for a five pound bag of corn.
Because the dogs were…and are, sick. The vast majority of animals seen at vet clinics are dogs, and most for metabolic complaints. They cannot digest corn. It’s why their shit stinks so bad and is such a horrid consistency. The sugar in the corn rots their teeth so that these days, you are advised to brush your pet’s teeth. I know people whose dogs have had root canals! Corn makes them throw up, lose their teeth, go blind, have metabolic problems such as diabetes, eat shit, eat other things, shed excessively, have allergies, have dander, develop cancer, fart, itch, seize, and most of all, overeat. No matter how deeply you fill their bowl, and no matter how greedily they eat it, they’re still hungry because they are eating CORN. The dog’s system works overtime trying to extract what tiny amount of protein is in the kibble. The vets are getting rich on the dog food industry’s propaganda because their clients want desperately to make their dog well. Instead of being honest with the dog owner, the vets repeat the mantra that ‘dogs are omnivores’ so often they’ve come to believe it themselves.
This is a money maker for everyone except you. The dog food industry, and the vets, who harvest money from you for your dog’s food, and the medical expenses that come with it.
The owners are paying money. Their dogs are paying with their health and well-being. But because it takes about as long for the dog’s metabolism to succumb to the ravages of a corn based diet as it does for your average inbred dog to die anyway, no one blames the corn.
There is some resistance to it. Some professional breeders, trainers, nutritionists and just plain old intelligent dog owners are feeding their dogs the BARF diet: Bones and Raw Food. A very close friend of mine rescues Labrador Retrievers. (as part of Heart of Texas Lab Rescue). Their website is:
She has rescued and fostered out over 400 Labs. She takes the hard to place ones: the ones with skin issues, the diabetics, the ones with seizures, the ones with metabolic issues, and turns them around. Within weeks of the dog coming into her home, they stopped being sick. They turn from metabolic wrecks into happy, healthy, terrific dogs. They stop puking, stop itching, and lose weight, turning fat into muscle.
She feeds them raw food.
Once a day, each dog gets half a raw chicken. Yes, bones and all. The whole thing, sans innards, feathers, heads and legs. Don’t believe the vet’s scare tactics, that of warning you against feeding your dogs bones, or raw chicken, or raw anything. The dogs can handle it. They adore the diet, and they respond, far faster than you would believe, both mentally and metabolically.
The veterinarians and the ‘professional consultants/ nutritionists’ on the dog food industry’s payroll shriek in horror. Your veterinarian, yes, YOURS, will tell you that raw food is bad for dogs. He or she will try to frighten you into believing that raw meat is bad for canines. He will insist that dogs, despite being wolves in a nice suit of clothes, are omnivores. They eat vegetables.
But please, reflect on this. When was the last time you heard about a pack of wolves attacking a corn field? When did you ever hear an organic farmer complaining that coyotes ate all his carrots? Never. Never, never, never. Wolves, coyotes and dogs, are not omnivores.
Test it for yourself. Put a carrot to one side of your dog, and a bowl of warm, raw beef on the other. The dog will not go for the carrot. I promise. Dogs are CARNIVORES.
People who have seen the benefits of a raw meat diet for their dogs are merely tiny voices in a the advertising cacophony of Big Pet Food. The industry is too big and too successful to defeat. The vast majority of dog owners are too compliant, too unwilling to do the work, and will continue to feed their dogs corn. The few voices of reason will never win this battle.
Now, though, it’s turned even uglier.
Not content with the billions of dollars made selling corn in dog food bags, the industry has turned its villainous sights on cats. Cats overtook dogs as the most popular pet about a decade ago. The industry has decided to make even more money by setting their sights on the burgeoning cat owners market, using the same tactics that worked for them in selling corn to dog owners.
Two weeks ago, I saw a cat food TV ad (muted, like all commercials I must put up with). It showed a nicely dressed woman walking with her tabby cat following, tail up. Surrounding them was a lovely shower of vegetables: peas, broccoli, etc. The inference was that vegetables are suitable for a cat to eat.
Last night, I saw another cat food ad for Fancy Feast. This one portrayed a silver, blue eyed cat, eating what the voice over said was “garden veggies and egg whites.”
I did some researching and found the listing of ingredients.
INGREDIENTS: Water sufficient for processing, salmon, liver, wheat gluten, chicken, meat by-products, egg product, egg whites, corn starch-modified, tomatoes, spinach, artificial and natural flavors, carrots, soy flour, soy protein concentrate, calcium phosphate, spice and coloring, potassium chloride, taurine, salt, choline chloride, Red 3, Vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, copper sulfate, Vitamin A supplement, manganese sulfate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, biotin, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, potassium iodide.
Oh my god. Garden veggies? Egg whites? They’re protein, but not in the way a cat needs. Cooked egg whites are useless for anything but stabilizing the corn in the kibble. There’s salmon in this recipe, but there’s also wheat gluten, soy, and corn starch. This product, by the way, is a canned food, not a kibble.
Why didn’t they just put in pure salmon? Why add ‘garden veggies’?
Cats are obligate carnivores. They are even more so than any canine. Cats MUST have meat, of some sort. When the industry began feeding corn to dogs, they later began putting it in cat food. The problem is, corn, amongst all its other nutritional sins, doesn’t contain taurine, an essential vitamin found only in meat and fish.
Adding taurine to corn kibble, though, merely satisfies that one specific vitamin requirement. Cats without taurine die quickly and miserably. Cats, eating corn, take a lifetime to die miserably.
In 1990, the only ‘quality’ cat food (as opposed to such horrors as “Meow Mix”) was “Iams”. It was advertised as the best cat food there was. I believed it. I bought a Siamese kitten that had been weaned solely on Iams.
If you don’t introduce a kitten (or a puppy, or anything young) to various foods, they grow up thinking there is only one food. In Tasha’s case that was Iams. She would eat nothing else.
Tasha became ill. My veterinarian had no idea what her problem was. He did blood tests and found nothing wrong. Tasha lost all her fur. She was clearly unhappy. She could not keep any food in her stomach. She itched so badly she tore holes in her now bare skin. The veterinarian accused me of spraying her with ‘bug spray’ because she had a distinctively acrid smell of something chemical.
I had never sprayed her with anything. She had no fleas, as she was an indoor cat, one fed solely on Iams. A cat food made of corn.
It was only when I switched veterinarians did I finally..and much too late, discover what was wrong with Tasha. With a simple urine test, this vet diagnosed her as being in the final stages of diabetes. She was too far gone to be rescued with insulin injections. Up until then, no one…not even the vet…had heard of a cat having diabetes. (now it’s very common.)
When a cat eats nothing but corn, this is what happens.
Tasha weighed only five pounds when she died.
She was only seven years old.
I knew it was not the way I’d kept her, but something in the Iams cat kibble, a cat food that, despite their advertising and the corresponding higher price, was no better or worse than any other cat kibble.
I began to read the ingredients list.
The first ingredient was corn.
The second ingredient was ‘chicken byproducts’ or ‘chicken meal’.
A ‘byproduct’ is exactly that, the parts of the chicken or the cow that we don’t eat. In the case of chickens, byproducts are the feathers, the beaks. the leg scales, toe claws, probably even the shit in its gut. It’s ground up into an indistinguishable ‘meal’, mixed with corn, and cooked into kibble.
More disturbingly, the cat foods I looked at all included the chemical ethyoxyquin.
Additional research taught me that ethyoxyquin is commonly used to preserve rubber and as a pesticide.
Why is it in cat food?
I called Iams and got no answer, just the propaganda and would I like a coupon to try a bag of it?
No. I wanted a live healthy cat, not the box of feline ashes engraved “Tasha”.
Why put a rubber preservative into cat food? I suppose it’s to keep the kibble from crumbling. After all, if it can keep your tires from falling to pieces, it should be able to keep their crappy cat kibble together, too.
When Tasha died from a destroyed metabolism, a very large part of my heart died with her. She died from eating corn and chemicals.
From that day forward, I became a convert to feeding my cats raw foods. My veterinarian, of course, shrieked in horror. You CAN’T feed her raw meat. They’ll get salmonella poisoning. Their teeth will fall out, it will hurt them. No, no, no.
Eff the vets and their lucrative warm spot in the industry devil’s bed. It’s my cat, damn it, and I’ll feed it like the carnivore it is.
My next three cats (Wren, individually, then my present cats, Sable and Diamond) were and are fed raw meat. I must admit that Sable is so highly bred that while she adores raw egg, it gives her the shits…and a cat with diarrhea is never a good thing. With seven generations of kennel breeding for the show (although her breeder treats her show cats like family cats, and doesn’t keep them in kennels), Sable’s system isn’t strong enough to handle raw eggs.
But Diamond was born and bred in the ghetto, and can eat anything without problems.
Diamond also gets a spoonful of plain, Greek yogurt every day. Adult cats (and like adult me) are lactose intolerant, but Greek yoghurt doesn’t affect us like milk does.
Diamond also gets: bones. Yes. If we have a roast or a steak, she gets the bones. She doesn’t eat the bones, but she does chew on them after she’s cleaned every speck of meat from it, cooked or raw. I’ll also give her a raw chicken wing. Sable has tried the bones, but she just doesn’t see the attraction. But she’ll catch and eat her raw mouse while Diamond watches.
My cats get cooked and raw fish, shrimp, beef, pork (in moderation), eggs, and (sometimes, very seldom, chicken) as part of their diet.
Raw meat diets for your pets can get expensive, especially in today’s economy. Luckily, at least for cats, there are now available cat kibbles that have no grain whatsoever. The ones I buy for my cats are: Blue Buffalo Carnivore Duck (lynx on the bag) (they also make a dog food with a wolf on the bag): Nature’s Variety “Instinct” (cat on the bag) and Viva La Venison, (white tiger’s blue eyes on the bag). None of these kibbles have a lick of corn, rice or any grain. They don’t even have chicken. These foods are made of rabbit, venison, and duck. I don’t feed my cats the ones with salmon because again, while fish doesn’t hurt them, cats aren’t fish eaters. In the wild, they eat rodents.
For some reason, the cat food industry resists turning mice into cat food. Why? Mice are nothing if not cheap, prolific, and perfectly suited for being raised in a factory. Raising mice for cat food would enable a lot of quality control. There would be no need to worry about parasites, or fleas, or diseases. In addition, mice are vegetarians who prefer grass grains, like corn. They can eat corn without any issues. Why don’t the pet food companies make kibble out of mice? Or hell, why not pack half a dozen mice into a tin, like sardines?. The cats would love it.
Why feed your cats raw food and kibble without corn?
Well, let’s look at the results, from both sides. My cats don’t throw up. They hack up a hairball once in a very great while. They don’t shed as much as your regular cat does. They don’t have dander. They’re both the perfect weight at 9 pounds.
They race around the house like mad things, and play like kittens, even at almost three years old.
Diamond, despite her rough beginning at the animal shelter, grew into a big boned, husky cat. She’s a bruiser. Sable, although being purebred (Wren was her great aunt) is tall for a Siamese. She’s a cobby, old-fashioned Apple head, a traditional Siamese, not one of those lanky, angular box headed cats that are the show people’s preference.
Last March, I took both my cats to their vet for their annual checkup and rabies shot.
The vet, who’s been their vet since they were kittens, was astounded. They were the first cats she’d seen ‘in months’ that weren’t obese. Their coats are clean, soft (although Sable, being Siamese, has a rougher coat than silky Diamond). Their fur shines. They don’t have fleas, nor do I keep them on any sort of anti-flea medication…and these cats go outside (with close supervision).
The vet was even more astounded when she looked at their teeth. “Are you brushing their teeth?” I laughed. I held out one of Diamond’s massive paws, extending her claws.
“Are you crazy? They’re both fully armed. I’m not going to brush the teeth of an animal with a buzz saw on every paw.”
“You must be doing something. These cats are in perfect condition. They have the most beautiful teeth, no plaque, no cavities, no gingivitis, they’re text book teeth.”
“I feed them raw meat.”
Her face twisted. I had just admitted to sinning, just committed sacrilege to the most lucrative, successful, and heartless propaganda campaign since the Cold War.
“Just a little bit, right? Just as a special treat, only once in a while?” she squeaked, encouraging me to publicly retract my heretical statement, so that the Dog and Cat Food Nazi wouldn’t arrest me.
“Nope, every day. Raw meat. Raw eggs. Raw foods. I even give Diamond bones to chew. She loves them.”
She squirmed. I’d put her in an untenable, politically incorrect position. This was heresy, and I was proclaiming it loudly and without shame.
“You know, we have a high quality prescription diet kibble…..”
“With corn, right?”
“I don’t know.”
“But I do. Your prescription cat food is mostly corn. These cats have never had a bit of grain of ANY sort since I got them as 8 week old kittens. Cats are carnivores, just like dogs, and should never be fed corn.”
She looked as if she were about to cry, but I couldn’t resist twisting the knife a little further.
“And look what I have! Two cats, in perfect physical condition. They don’t puke, their weight is correct, fur beautiful, teeth big and strong and clean, and all because I feed them raw meat, and nothing with grain in it.”
She was horrified, because not only did she know I was right, but I was also being right at the top of my parade field voice, and everyone in the vet clinic could hear me.
I couldn’t go on. To do so would have been sermonizing. It would not have done a bit of good. In her heart she knew I was right, but her profession forbade her from saying so. She is a better veterinarian than most, even in her clinic where there are three others working with her.
The sad thing is, the lies about dogs being omnivores and now, the campaign to include cats into that canard, are solely to enrich the pet food industry. Big Dog Food doesn’t give a damn that their product is bad for your pet. They don’t care. They are in the business to make money, not good food. The veterinarians are in it wholeheartedly because a sick dog or cat makes them money.
Dogs are Carnivores. Cats are Carnivores.
STOP FEEDING YOUR PET CORN BASED FOOD.
Your pet…the beat of your heart…is worth it.