Gourmet Pets

I had a discussion one day, a while ago, with some fellow cat people, about what they feed their pets, how much it cost to feed their pets and how it relates to what the people feed themselves.

As you know, I’m fairly particular about what I eat. I like to buy organic. I don’t eat junk food (usually). I like my food to be as natural and as additive-free as possible. So, for me it seemed obvious that I would feed my pet the same way.

Bazel gets Wellness brand cat food (A different flavour each day of the week – he only likes the poultry or fish ones). He gets one 5.5 ounce can per day at $1.99 per can. Then, on the vet’s recommendation, Bazel also gets a scant ¼ cup of the Hill’s Prescription Diet dry – the one that keeps his teeth clean. One bag of that stuff is about $30ish, but it lasts for months and keeps his teeth tartar-free. Teeth cleaning for cats can cost thousands since they have to knock them out to do it, so I reckon I’m saving money in the long run.

 On Sundays, Bazel gets a special treat. I get him the small cans of Snappy Tom  tuna or tuna with salmon dinners. He gets one of those in the morning and one in the evening. Each can is $1.69. They’re yummy because they look like actual chunks of fish, not all pasty like the usual cat food. (Zoom’s cat, Duncan, gets his special treat on Tuesdays)

I also always try to have some cat grass in a pot growing somewhere he can gnaw on it.  Sometimes he eat a whole bunch of it and throws up. Apparently cats enjoy throwing up cat grass. They eat it specifically so they can barf it back out. Cats are mental.

A lot of people think I spend too much money on cat food. But that cheap stuff in the grocery store just doesn’t even look like, smell like or contain ingredients that resemble real food. And yet, I know plenty of pets live long and happy lives on it. I don’t know if Bazel is any better of with his all-natural food or not, but it doesn’t make me gag when I open it first thing in the morning and that’s the important thing.

I usually buy Bazel’s food at Global Pet Foods on Bank Street. What a great place. They don’t sell animals, of course, but they have pretty much everything else pet-related you could ever possibly want or need. Lots of natural pet foods and healthy pet treats; toys, crates, leashes and other gear.  It’s also a very social place. The owner’s and/or employees’ dogs are usually there. Customer’s dogs wander in gamboling with each other. Cat people are in the cat section exchanging tips and ideas on cat toys and cat entertainment and cat food. 

Occasionally a gerbil person can be found in the gerbil section. They’re usually alone looking at blocks of wood shavings or little gerbil mirrors.

So, anyway, I’m wondering what you feed your pets? Back when I was a kid our pets foraged for food on the farm. They’d get table scraps and when (and only when) foraging and scraps were scarce they’d be supplemented with store bought pet food.

Now vets are horrified by the idea of pets getting people food. They’re horrified by the idea of pets being outdoors and eating mice or birds or plants or random bones they’ve dug up.

Of course back in the day, pets didn’t live to be 36 years old either.

I once worked with a woman called Marissa (yes, that’s her real name) who was one of those certifiable vegans who give normal vegans a bad name. She only fed her cat potatoes and beans because cat food was made from “the putrid flesh of murdered animals“.

I once had a cat named Dwight who was obsessed with spaghetti. Whenever he smelled it cooking, he’d try to dive into the pot. I had to lock him out of the room if I wanted to eat my spaghetti without being killed for my meal.

Bazel is only obsessed with normal cat things like fish and cheese. He will also happily kill me for either.

Now that I think about it, I always seem to have very aggressive cats.

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Disclaimer:  I am earning no revenue nor am I receiving any gifts for mentioning any of these pet food brands or pet food shops….though I would happily accept gifts and/or revenue should they be offered.

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30 responses to “Gourmet Pets

  1. Saw a cat food commercial on TV once that claimed their product contained “the flavors cats naturally love.” It then went on to say that those flavors were beef, fish, and poultry.

    “Beef, huh?” I mused. “Fish, I get. And poultry, too. But I seriously doubt that a cat, left to fend for itself in the wilderness, would actually chase down a cow for dinner.”

    I admit, though, that the mental image of little Fluffy taking down a Holstein and gnawing on its bones is amusing.

  2. I don’t have any house plant because my cat will eat them. Then he will puke on my bed. It’s lovely. I also don’t have anything “vaguely” vegetal because he will try to eat that too. Like fake flower leis. Then puke on the bed, etc. He’s not very bright.

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit he gets dry purina indoor formula and seems just fine on it. No wet food. He loves to drink cranberry juice. I have to drink it quickly or he’ll stick his paw in my cup and help himself.

  3. I am on the exact opposite side of the fence as Marissa. Cats in the wild are pure carnivore, except for the aforementioned grass binges (and purges.) Therefore, I feed them both pure meat. Nothing cut with cornmeal or any other fillers, just meat.

    When we first got Ginger from the pound, I made my own food for her. I’d buy chicken livers, hearts and cheap thighs, or beef heart, liver and meat, depending on the flavour of the week. I’d blend it with egg yolks, fish oil, unflavoured gelatin, and a nutritional supplement powder (mmmm kelp) I bought at the local Global pet foods. I left it just chunky enough so she’d have that real-live-hunks-of-meat eating sensation, and served it at “mouse body temperature”. She loved it, until one day she mysteriously just wouldn’t eat it anymore.

    I was kinda glad to give up making it, ’cause raw blended meat was freakin’ gross.

    Ginger still likes moist food, so President’s Choice tins (shredded only, thank you!) is her main repast. My older girl can’t be swayed from dry food; she gets grain-free “Now!” cat food.

    Both girls enjoy a spot of tuna water every now and then. Not tuna itself, mind you… just the water from it.

    I grow spider plants and leave them at nibbling height. They’re non-poisonous and grow like weeds anyhow, so if my girls need to indulge, they have the option.

  4. I’d like to remind that idiot Marissa that cats are by nature hunters who eat other animals. Sure processed cat food is crap but mice, etc are fine. People forget that our pets are still animals.

  5. I am so curious about cows in the wild. Where are they?

    My cat loves her Purina dry food too, thankfully she also LOVES the hairball prevention goo I feed her and it does work to prevent hairballs.

    She also loves fresh water and pizza crust.

    And of course she loves chicken and sea food and creamy dairy products.

    She is spoiled, but we try out best.

  6. We called a man advertising in the paper to take care of animals to care for our cat while out of town. He asked what we fed our cat and when we told him Friskies he yelled, “You hate your cat!” and hung up. So I bought the expensive food like you mentioned and after a bag of it, my cat was listless and his coat wasn’t shiny, plus, he hated it. So I went back to Friskies and he is healthy and happy. He won’t eat canned cat food or heart and chicken livers that I cook and try to feed him. Only the dry stuff.

  7. I mix two different dry foods for Barney. I can’t name them because I pour them into a large tin and throw out the bags, but they both claim to be all “beneful” or something. I mix them because he’s not overly crazy for the one and he eats the other one like it’s going out of style. We give him canned food randomly and he loves it, but only good stuff. We bought a cheap brand once and he looked so sad and disappointed. He supplements his diet with grass and bugs from the backyard and lizards in the garage – although he doesn’t really eat up the lizards. He caught a mouse in the garage today but he considered it a toy and not food. Barney weighs 18 pounds but is not fat. He’s just a very large cat. (As usual, your post made me want to post about Barney and if I do, I’ll link to this one as always.)

  8. growing up our dogs were fed hard crunchy stuff that came in a big yello bag (no-name?) they seemed okay with it, but always begged at the table for a treat.
    the one dog who made it to old age (i lived on a busy street) received homemade meals of ground lamb and white rice because it was easier for him to digest. we really loved that dog and took turns making it.

  9. Fool – Ha ha! My cat won’t even eat the beef or pork or lamb flavours, although I have no doubt he could take down a Holstein if he put his mind to it.

    Heather – You could maybe get your cat some cat grass and a puke bucket if he enjoys it so much. Is he long-haired? He probably has a lot of fur to expel.

    Susan – Of course cats are carnivores – they’re in fact one of the few truly carnivorous animals on the planet. Marissa was insane. What I like about the Wellness foods is that they are pure meat – no grains, no filler. I’m in awe of your dedication is creating your own cat food – holy hannah! Did the cat still get all her taurine? That seems to be the important thing. There’s an issue with that with that new raw food pet food diet, too.

    Dr. Monkey – I know, eh? We kept trying to tell her that it was all nice that she was a vegan, but that she wasn’t providing her cat with the protein he needed.

    Missy – Good question about the wild cows. Modern cattle are descendants of two species–the wild cattle of Europe (Bos taurus) and the humpbacked cattle of Asia (Bos indicus). Most of today’s domesticated cattle in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Australia evolved from two subspecies of the prehistoric Bos taurus–the smallish, short-horned Celtic ox (taurus longifrons) and the massive, long-horned aurochs (taurus primigenius). There will be a test later.

    Linda – There you go. Not all cats are created equal. As long as the cat is happy and healthy, why not feed him what he likes, right? Did you find a less judgmental cat sitter?

    Geewits – Oh ya, I forogt about Bazel’s supplemental bugs. He practices his mad hunting skills on hapless flies and spiders. 18 pounds – wow. My cat is taller than most cats, too – long legs and a long body. When he stands up on his hind legs and stretches his face can peer onto the kitchen counter and he can bat things (like random bits of cheese) off and onto the floor where he can later pretend to discover it. He weighs 13 pounds and they keep telling me he’s above average weight, but he sure doesn’t look fat. I guess they’re only looking at their charts and not at the cat.

    Meanie – I don’t think I have the energy to cook a separate meal for the cat. I don’t think dogs are as fussy and they’re more omnivorous so maybe it’s easier…nah…I wouldn’t cook for a dog either. Do you guys have any pets now?

  10. I wouldn’t exactly call my cat finicky – she will eat pretty much any brand or flavour of food I put down in front of her. She might give me a look that says “what the hell is this new stuff”, but she’ll eat it. Unless it is wet or came from a can. Or is fish, fresh or canned or tuna water – no interest. Or those expensive Whiskas treats that the cat in the commercial will break through walls to get at. No interest there either. She drinks lots of water, always daintily from her paw, for some reason. She also loves yoghurt. LOVES yoghurt.
    I used to have a cat that was very fond of dairy and especially anything that hinted at cheese. From SmartFood to brie, it was all good and she had little patience in waiting for me to finish. Many’s the time we ate ‘our’ mac&cheese off the same plate.

    Oh yeah, and none of my cats ever actually ate any mice they caught.

  11. This doesn’t just have to be about cats, right? Or even dogs? I have a parrot who primarily gets Harrison’s pellets from the vet. For breakfast, he gets some “bird salad” which I chop up myself for the week and usually is mixed veggies, apples, broccoli, sweet potato, and rice. He loves coming out to eat with us at dinner! He has a cage in the dining room right behind my daughter, who feeds him (he does BEG!) whatever the starch of the evening might be, which are his favorites. He’ll chow down on noodles, rice, bread, chips, potato, cookies, waffles, grits, couscous, etc. Sometimes my DD lets him drink milk from her cereal bowl which is a special treat for him, but he’s really not supposed to have dairy.

  12. My grandma grew up on a farm in Poland in the 1910’s. No such thing as store-bought dog food back then. I once asked: what did your pets eat?

    Meat, potatoes, whatever we ate, she told me.

    Nowadays, if you did that, your vet would yell at you.

    As for Vegans who treat their cats as such….they ougtha be charged with animal abuse.

    Geezus. WHAT are they thinking?

    (Argh!). Just trying to grasp their reasoning…I…I CAN’T. It just makes my brain hurt!!!

    While they’re at it, why don’t they try to make a cows eat ham?

  13. Marissa was a moron I think. Beans to a cat?!?!

    When I had my cats they ate Hills, both dry and canned. It was way more expensive but they all died at an old age and spent their lives in really good health, so I saved a bundle in vet fees.

  14. Violetsky – That sounds finicky to me. I read something once that said pets love to try and eat whatever you’re eating because it’s some sort of bonding thing to them. It doesn’t have so much to do with the food as the fact that you’re sharing it with them. Isn’t that romantic?

    Nylon – What a great story! I’d love to hear from people with other kinds of pets, too. A starch-loving parrot…must be his South American genes?

    Friar – I agree about the insane vegan. Even vegan websites don’t advocate feeding a cat a vegan diet. And about the cows and ham thing — isn’t that exactly how mad cow disease developed? From feeding cows dead animals like pigs, chicken and cow?

    Jazz – Ya, I can’t imagine that poor cat’s digestive issues.

    Bandobras – Cows are Jewish??

    Hannah – Hmm. I’ve never seen this brand. Where do you get it? It looks yummy…

  15. @XUP

    Yeah…giving herbivores meat-based protein to eat, made out of their own cousins…that AIN’T RIGHT.

    No wonder shit like mad-cow disease turns up.

  16. The “Missing Link” powder that I add to the home-made food is mostly for the taurine; it’s also why I add organ meat to the mix.

    Yes, there are people ranting about how raw meat isn’t good for cats, but once again, I default to how they are designed to function. Cats don’t sit around campfires, roasting mice.

    Flippancy aside, I did my research and found enough material to suggest that the safety concerns are negligible. Ginger was prone to gas and runny stool when I rescued her from the pound. After a couple of weeks on my “man-made mouse” diet, her coat was lovely and glossy, her gas went away, and her stool became normal.

    She was, and is, a happy cat.

  17. Friar – Exactamundo

    Susan – I never had any doubts that you knew exactly what you were doing. One of the problems when people try to replicate nature is that they often leave out important bits. Like when they made ASA by isolating elements from White Willow Bark — it just didn’t work the same way and they couldn’t figure out why. Giving a cat a slab of raw beef or chicken isn’t the same as a cat eating a mouse. First, do we know what sort of nutrients are lost within even an hour of death? And what goodies are in the mouse’s brain and eyes and fur and bones that aren’t available in the slab of raw chicken? Anyway, like I said I had no doubts that you’d done your homework.

    Bandobras – Oy!

  18. I used to deliver at a pizza place and one guy would take home all the leftovers off people’s plates in a trash bag and that’s all his dogs ate. I felt sorry for the dogs because I don’t imagine a pizza-only diet is any better for them than it is for us, but it’s not like bags of dog food have been in stores for all of history!

    Now that I can afford it, I give our dogs the $$ stuff like Wellness, Merrick, and we have a new one around here called Taste of the Wild. It bothers me (a vegetarian) a little to buy the stuff, but at least it doesn’t seem like meat anymore once it’s in the pelleted form. I try not to smell it. Blech. There are commercially available vegetarian dog foods that supposedly work pretty well, but dogs don’t have the issues that cats do. I much prefer feeding the rabbits and guinea pigs!

    Honestly, our dogs prefer eating paper towels, tissues, fabric, their own crap, and tomatoes off the vine in the yard.

  19. My aging cat Burush had serious teeth problems. Two years ago our vet said that cleaning procedure was a must.
    Kelvin from “Critter Jungle” store, where I get food for Burush, recommended “Nature’s Dentist” – supplement for keeping pet’s teeth in good shape.
    I have been using the supplement for two years now. It seems to work remarkably well. What I liked a lot was disappointment on the vet’s face when we went for a checkup last year. When I mentioned the supplement, the vet’s response was: “Never heard about it.”

  20. maybe you should send this in to the cat food company and they’ll compensate you. worth a shot right?

    i try to feed my cats healthier but they get kind of snobbish and i have to change their food regularly. i never used to give them soft food until my vet suggested it when one cat had problems going #2.

    one cat is 18 and the other is 17 and they seem to be fairly healthy.

    off topic, watching the food network tonight they had a guy that collected vintage restaurant menus and there was one for a vegetarian restaurant in california from 1902. i was impressed and thought of you.

  21. Amy – Ya, I think dogs and cats need meat. I don’t have a problem feeding it to my cat even though I won’t eat it. If I did, I just wouldn’t have a carnivorous pet. Taste of the Wild, eh? I’ll have to investigate that — it sounds exciting.

    Joanna – Good tip. I looked it up and the sell it at Global, I might give it a try. Bazel still likes his little bit of evening crunchies though.

    Leah – That’s cool about the restaurant. You don’t know the name of it by any chance do you? Is it still around? DO you come back and read the comments I make on your comments?

  22. yes, i do come back. or i just read it from my email account. since you asked me a question i came back to your actual site 🙂

    i don’t remember but will see if i can find it in the show archives for you, i was very impressed.

  23. I once had a dog that loved vegetables; especially hot peppers. She would eat and eat them until you just would not give her another one and . she would not take a drink until you quit letting her have them. She would rather eat vegetables than meat.

    Irritating Little Chihuhua is addicted to chicken. I give her chicken for breakfast with her two heart pills wrapped in peanut butter and followed by one Treat. I think she thinks those round treats really have bone marrow in them because she will break off the bone side and eat it and then try to get the marrow out. Must be good.

    I don’t give her leftovers unless it is chicken or pork. She is NOT a vegatian.

  24. By the way, I have wondered how many chihuahuas it takes to bring down a chicken? I’m pretty sure there is no way she could do it by herself. Heck they could eat her.

  25. Gezonde – Naw… I don’t want to use the blog for commercial purposes.

    Leah – Thanks. I’d love to know. I might try to do some investigating of my own as well.

    Savanvleck – Dogs are more omnivorous than cats – cats can live only on meat. Dogs need other stuff ike grains and greens – but hot peppers? Yikes. Did she howl when they came out the other end?

  26. we only feed dry iams at my house.

    but I once had a crazy vegan roommate too. “Sandra” (not her real name probably, as she wouldn’t tell us what it was) would never have had a cat as a pet, since cats KILL things. but she did have a very sad german shepard who only ate rice, as far as I could tell. At least dogs are omnivores. She would only compost things from her own garden, as even organic stuff from the store might have residues. I don’t remember how she dealt with mosquitos.