Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Experiment Gone Wrong

Last week while browsing the crunchy cat food section at Tractor Supply (or Tractor Town, as I like to call it), I found an interesting new type of cat food. It's based on a natural approach to feeding cats, as if they wanted the same diet as large cats ie: cougars, pumas, etc. My interest was piqued so I did my first pre-purchase criteria check, price. It was affordable. Second check, read the ingredients. Contains venison, smoked salmon, sweet potato (big cats want sweet potato?), greens, and the big clincher-NO GRAINS. It sounded so good that Jonathan and I might want to set a bowl of kibble out at a party for snacking, like a healthy version of Chex Mix. Anyone who has put effort into buying a "healthy" food for their pet knows that the pet food pro's all poo poo foods with grains. They deem it filler, no nutritional value, blah, blah, blah. I admit that I've been brainwashed by these food gurus, so like a zombie I am always scouting out a better food for the animals that won't force me to go into debt. This food seemed like the best of both worlds, so I dashed off to the cash register and gleefully purchased it.

Jonathan's reaction to my excited description of this food was a classic Jonathan speech. Let me try to convey it: "You're feeding the cat's deer meat? These are house cat's, Michele. They eat Fancy Feast and an occasional mouse. Marble's isn't watching the local deer herd go by, dreaming of sinking her fangs into their flesh. The cats aren't pumas, Michele. I could understand putting rabbit into a cat food, but venison? For real? What is so bad about feeding them grains? We feed the horse's grain, right? What is this company thinking? The whole pet food industry is a scam. I should make a new cat food. Lion's Pride. Get it? Lions PRIDE, double entendre there. It will have gazelle and antelope marrow. And it will cost $150 dollars a bag. We'll be rich! Do what you want, but this sounds crazy to me."

Upon hearing this speech, I did reflect that it might be a tad odd to feed house cat's deer meat fortified food, but I had bought it, so stubbornly I would feed it.

The first night I put a small portion in the three bowls, along with a teaspoon of Fancy Feast and sat back to watch my cat's health bloom before my eyes. They aren't known to be terribly picky eaters, but I did notice a slight hesitation before each bite of the new stuff. Probably, just trying to figure out the great new flavor, I told myself. The next morning's feeding went similarly. Marble's leapt away from her bowl, leaving almost half of the kibble. Mia picked at her portion half heartedly. Only Big Zekie kept chugging away until his bowl was empty (he isn't called Big Zekie for no reason). Maybe the food is so good for them that they don't need to eat much of it before they feel full, I reasoned as I washed their bowls out.
That evening (feeding #3 of new fantasy food), the two girl cats gave me a look of disgust as I set their bowls down before them. They did pick at the food, but they weren't happy, this was clear. They left more than half of the kibble before stalking off, tails slashing irritably through the air. Big Z visibly took a deep breath and like a fat kid at a hotdog eating contest he dug into the bowl of natural goodness like a trooper. Fifteen minutes after Z finished his dinner, Jonathan yelled to me, "Michele, get some paper towel. Big Zekie just threw up his deer meat in the living room!" I have had Zekie since he was born and I have never seen him throw up. I cleaned up the barf, consoled Big Z, who seemed no worse for the wear and thought no more of it. Well, the next morning was an instant replay of the previous night. The girl cats picked at their food, like anorexic super models. Big Zekie gallantly ate his portion and then fifteen minutes later, he waltzed into the living room and barfed it up. Now I was a little nervous. "Maybe he has stomach cancer?" I said to Jonathan.
"The cat pukes twice and he's suddenly dying? Maybe it's that crappy food. Cat's shouldn't eat deer meat, Michele. It's not right!"

That afternoon, I acquiesced and bought a bag of grain-filled, McDonald's version cat food. The cats purred in a collective chorus at dinnertime, it was a proverbial cats "Happy Meal", sans toys. The girl cats got rid of their murderous glares, finished their food and Big Zekie didn't throw up. Lesson learned. House cats shouldn't eat deer meat. I had to admit that I had been cleverly duped by the company's fancy packaging and claims. And Jonathan got to be right. It was a good night.


  1. Michele, classic, seldom do I read something and burst out laughing in an empty room, well this did it. I could hear Jonathan's voice like he was here.

  2. so funny! i guess now that i think about it i've never seen house cats chasing down a deer for their supper ..