The history of cat food and the evolution of cat food industry

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It’s hard to imagine a world without canned pet food and kibble in every store. And yet, animals were first domesticated ages ago, dogs and cats as well. Everyone knows that, for example, Cleopatra was overly fond of cats. While she probably had access to all the goods of the world, she wasn’t the only ancient pet owner, and not all of them were equally fortunate. So how did other people manage?

cat eating

It’s especially puzzling when it comes to cats. If you’re a modern cat parent, you may have problems trying to think about your furry friend living through the day without their favorite Sheba cat food. Keeping an eye on their cat’s health without products like PrettyLitter would have been harder. However, commercialized cat food is a relatively new concept, a much newer one than dog food. People used to believe that cats can manage on their own; they were probably right. Even now, stray cats seem to be much more likely to survive and thrive than street dogs.

But cat lovers couldn’t resist, and the cat food industry emerged.

How people domesticated cats

In the past, when it was much more common for people to grow their own food, cats were considered to be an asset to every household. They kept rodents and other intruders away from the food. Cats often got their nutrition by eating rodents. Sometimes, when a housemaid or a cook had some scraps or leftovers that couldn’t be used as food for pigs or in any other way, cats would get it. But mostly, their diet was natural, and they were in charge of their meals.

Hunting Cat

Those that provided their cats with food claimed that it only encouraged felines to care about the household more and to hunt rodents. It was concluded that they were hunting out of instinct, not because of hunger. What’s more, there were people claiming that not feeding your cat could lead to them thinking they are useless and harmful. So they were raiding the pantries or were deciding to leave.

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, more and more people started to recognize the benefits of keeping cats and dogs as everyday companions. Rather than keeping them as working animals.

The rise of commercially-prepared cat foods

Cat foods started to be commercially prepared in the second half of the 19th century. More and more people were no longer growing and storing their own foods, so their cats didn’t have enough rodents to keep them well-nourished. However, cat food was still widely criticized, as many people believed it was spoiling the cats.

Businessman James Spratt was among the first pet food producers; having formulated the very first dog biscuits around 1860.

Canned cat food was created in the 1930s. Then, because of the shortages and rationing of meat during World War II, people came up with the idea of dry foods for pets. After the war, a lot of companies producing food for humans started to manufacture pet foods. Still, the actual pet food boom began in the 1960s after Purina® introduced the extrusion process. A process that made pet feeding much more convenient for a regular pet owner.

Because of the booming food industry, most people didn’t have to grow or even store their food anymore; they simply had to go to the store to get all the necessary ingredients to prepare dinner. The 1960s are also the time when regular people started to be more and more aware of their pets’ nutritional needs. It was no longer advisable to feed your cat with scraps or leftovers. Veterinary specialists and nutritionists had been studying cats and other pets to determine the optimal diet that would help them to thrive. They were finally being listened to. Pet foods also started to be regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), FFDCA (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act), and AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials).

And here we are today with an endless choice of cat foods, a choice so vast that it can even get overwhelming.

Cat Food

The rise of pet parents’ awareness

While in the 1960s and 1970s, people started to become more aware of the existence of pets’ nutritional needs. It was only recently that they began to educate themselves on the topic of the most beneficial foods and harmful pet food ingredients. The abundance of new products, requires pet parents to do more research to be able to find the most suitable one for their furry friends. Now they understand how important it is to be able to read labels and stay skeptical towards advertising and big brand names.

Just like in the case of foods for humans, cat food companies started to use too many artificial components and preservatives to prolong their products’ shelf-life. In addition to selling more, and to making the whole production process cheaper.

Making good cat food choices

To make sure you choose the best food for your cat, you need to consult with a veterinarian first. Only a specialist will tell you what your cat’s individual needs are. As they depend on many factors, such as age, size, breed, overall health condition, lifestyle, etc. Only then can you start looking for the most suitable product.

To make sure you choose the high-quality one, you need to learn how to read the label. Usually, the first five ingredients make up for more than 90% of the whole bag. So that’s what interests you. Ideally, the first one should be named meat or fish (“named” meaning that it’s specified, e.g., chicken meat). Then a named source of animal protein, and whole grains, fruits, and vegetables enriched with natural vitamins and minerals. You want to avoid any artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, and GMO-ingredients, as well as too many grain fillers. Also, if your cat happens to struggle with a sensitive stomach, you should find food with no allergies. Ingredients such as grains, gluten, or soy.

People want what’s best for their furry friends and it’s not limited to only their food. For example, since cats are prone to hiding their illnesses and other problems from the world; PrettyLitter has come up with an excellent idea. They developed litter that changes color when your cat experiences any issues that can be detected in their urine. It allows you to determine not only when your Fluffy has a problem, but also what kind of a problem it may be.

It’s not worth to skimp on cat food

Luckily, most cat parents want what’s best for their furry friends. Growing awareness of good nutrition is enough to convince cat parents not to skimp on pet food. Even if it allows you to save some money now, you will end up paying much more for the veterinary consultations and treatment. Inadequate nutrition will eventually lead to health problems.

You don’t need a veterinary degree to be able to choose the best possible food for your cat. Just make sure you know your feline and always consult with a vet. Your cat will reward you with gratitude and happiness.

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History of Cat Food

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