how sustainable is mainstream cat food?

Posted on July 26, 2011

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Today (31st July), an item was posted on guardian.co.uk titled ‘Paws for thought’.

‘… As a cat lover who has taken in a number of stray moggies (six at the last count), I’d like to know how sustainable mainstream cat food is -

Somewhere the cat went from feline freegan to a beast that must eat wild-caught fish from a velvet cushion. Our cats are now so fat they need scientific dietary intervention from multinational pet food companies.

All of which can mask the primary issue: resource consumption. A 2008 study found the pet food industry to be using 2.48m metric tons of forage fish each year for wet cat food – ie the stuff in tins and pouches. Forage fish such as sardines, anchovies and herring are eaten by top ocean predators such as tuna. As if those top predators didn’t have enough to worry about. Humanity still chops through 4.5m tons of tuna species a year. Meanwhile evidence suggests that once the main ocean predators are fished out, the ecosystem begins to atrophy. Goodnight Vienna …

Cat food is so highly processed that the supply chain can be murkier than the Mediterranean. Mars Petcare claims it was the first company to make a commitment to sustainable cat food, and last year its Whiskas and Sheba brands introduced Marine Stewardship Council-certified ranges. This is an important step, as the stamp on the box tells you that these fish products can be traced to “sustainable” fisheries …

On the surface it seems things are improving, but it often means you are beholden to the multinationals that can afford certification. This is a different issue from core sustainability, but campaigners say big brands are reliant on chemical additives and fillers. Resistance comes in the form of the Campaign for Real Petfood (crpf.org.uk). Look for small brands, too, that offer a source of protein to your pet while minimising their footprint. Pet foods that substitute meat and fish with pulses are a good starting point, as less fossil fuel is used to grow pulse crops. Good brands include Yarrah and Defu. The first rule is to shut your ears to the marketing and make sustainability your priority …’

Read the item in full at www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/31/lucy-siegle-cat-food-fish

[Vegans say abandon the production and consumption of all animal products, including marine animals.]

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