So naturally, after obsessing about my own diet and that of my live-in boyfriend’s, I turned to obsessing about my mother’s diet and my friends and so on and so on. But there’s only so much I can control (and quite frankly that I want to control- and what’s more is what people will let me control). The point being that there are a couple of furry friends that I managed to leave out of this spiral of (healthy?) obsession that I’ve been circling in on. THE CATS! It made me squirm when I learned the truth about the birds and the bees- why should I expect this to be any different?
What are those little pellets that we feed our spotted loved ones anyway? Where does it come from and how is it made? I see a vast array of labels and packaging in the store everything from “Lamb and Rice” and “Salmon Fillet” even “Turkey with Gravy.” Like the pilgrims right? Probably not… So I checked out a couple of different labels online to (for the first time) actually look at what I was feeding my tiny friends. Some labels noted that their New and Improved Recipe was protein rich for lean muscles, had natural fibers and reduced fat to help maintain a healthy weight. What more could the consumer (you) possibly be looking for? Although I’m fairly confident that you can put those three points on just about any food product (and maybe even non-food products) in the supermarket and it would sell. But WHAT IS IT?
In a PETA report on Meatless Meals for Dogs and Cats it is noted that “supermarket pet foods are often composed of ground-up parts of animals that U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors have deemed unfit for human consumption. The flesh of animals who fall into one of the categories of the four D’s—dead, dying, diseased, or disabled—is what often goes into pet food. One Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specialist says that the unrendered protein in food may come from heads, feet, viscera, and other animal parts. Many of these animals have died of infections and other diseases. Pet food has also been recalled during mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), outbreaks because of the risk that contaminated meat might have been processed into the food. One deputy commissioner states that cats in particular “are susceptible to BSE.” Oh, and did I mention cats and dogs are also eating euthanized animals from shelters and otherwise.? Mike Sagman’e eye opening article, The Shocking Truth About Commercial Dog Food, is a downright disturbing account of what goes into dog food and quite a laundry list of ingredients not without “dead dogs and cats; heads and hooves from cattle, sheep, pigs and horses; whole skunks; rats and raccoons…” Hmmm… so now it seems a little hypocritical of me to ward off the evil spirits of the factory farm for my own body and systematically train myself to forget about it when I reach for the cat food 2+ times a day.
This isn’t just a conversation that explores what (wo)man’s best friend eats… this can just as easily turn into a conversation about what the meat you eat consumes as well. Because guess what… they’re eating euthanized cats and dogs from shelters too. So logically it makes sense that if you don’t care about what the animals you are going to eat have eaten… then why care about what what Buttons eats right? Think about it. For a more satirical account, check out (what’s now) an excerpt from Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.
Back to my original point. There is evidence stacked on both sides of this argument. I check out one source that swears by a certain product and just as quickly read about how much harm I could be doing to my poor little ones. As part of my investigation, I found that cats cannot exist solely on a vegan diet without supplements; they need Taurine which is found naturally in meat and seafood or they can get really sick and even die.
I did find this website that had enriched formulas for cats and dogs but I’m obviously very freaked out that a moral stance that I take could seriously harm my cats. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly and I’m still torn on the issue. I plan to talk to my vet about it and maybe print out the ingredients from a couple of the foods on the site to bring along with me (I’m not due to go back there for a little while). I know that I said from the beginning that this transformation would take a while and I think that this is something that will come in time for me. I was (for the mean time) at least able to find brands of food that do not test on animals.
I hate leaving things open ended but I suppose it’s better to leave it open for a little while than to have never opened it at all. I feel a little discouraged at the moment but am hopeful.