Pork and Pet Food

What I’ve always wondered is why there are no mice flavored cat foods or cat flavored dog foods in existence.

Link to column.

Brief mention here, which belies the research behind the column: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2745/do-mice-fear-the-scent-of-a-cat-do-mice-really-love-cheese

We actually contacted several pet food manufacturers for that column as well way back then, and what they told us was that making pet food from human food byproducts was cheap and easy, it’s not so easy to set up an infrastructure to harvest mice, and if you put a plate of mouse and a plate of albacore tuna in front of a cat, it’ll dive on the tuna and ignore the mouse. Cats eat mice because they have to or they’re driven instinctively to do so, not because they like the taste.

Maybe that’s why our cats would catch mice outside, bring them to the door, and leave only the headless carcass. The head must have been the tastiest part, a lot like the icing on a cake, or killing the shark for just the fin, no?

Hey, one of the questioners in today’s column is my daughter. Cool.

Am I the only person old enough to remember when you weren’t supposed to feed pork to pets because of trichinosis? That was the warning when I was growing up, although I found out as an adult that it was no longer a problem.

You’ve done it again, Cecil! As someone who daily has to answer similar comments - often in tiresome depth - I admire your tenacity and thoroughness, of course. With the incredible fear, even terror, exhibited and expressed by such a large percentage of the world’s population re the very mention of pork, this subject must occupy as much of their attention as whether the Pope was wearing the right miter, or a woman’s burkah is properly adjusted…

Handling “who cares?” matters is a thankless task, so, thank you, Cecil…

James Randi.

Perhaps some picky eaters join their loved ones at din-din…

Wow! We are blessed with a visit from the other master! And Randi’s 2 years of silence on this board were broken by – not a topic like Nostradamus, dowsing, magic or religion – but the taste of cat food! The mind boggles. :eek:

"The Quran, on the other hand, has been interpreted to mean any contact with pork is haram, or forbidden. "

Key phrase: “has been interpreted to mean”. Could we have a reference that that interpretation belongs to the mainstream religious thought?

I think your answer is “righter.” In my youth–40 years ago–I worked midnight shift at a supermarket, and one of my beats was restocking the pet food. I noticed Alpo had canned beef, lamb, chicken and even horse, but not pork. These would be muscle cuts, not the spleens etc Cecil said one company bragged about using; that goes into pet food, but they don’t describe it as such on the can. Now I’m an agricultural reporter, and trichinosis is virtually unknown because it was caused by wild animals who came to steal the swine’s food and left their spittle and foul droppings, which contained the parasite. Almost all hogs are raised in closely guarded confinement now, and vermin are much less of a problem.

Way back in the late '70’s and early '80’s I was a digest system operator for one of the pioneers in the pet food flavor market. We made flavors that were sold to all the major pet food producers. The company was purchaced by Nutrius in '89 and I stayed with the aquaculture part, mostly because I didn’t want to move to Missouri where all the chicken guts were. The pet food flavors division later grew into a world leader in the pet flavor market and split divisions again. As far as I know they are still producing under the new company names. I worked for the original BioProducts, Inc.


The flavors were made by grinding, heating, adding enzymes and acids to create a digest, think condensed soup and you have a pretty good idea of the product’s consistancy. These flavors were then used to coat generic dry food. The results were tested on kennels of well cared for animals who decided whether they had a preference for bowl A or bowl B.

The main ingredient was chicken scrap, also beef spleens, and livers. Beef spleens and livers are huge, no matter how many people like to eat liver and onions there will always be a problem with what to do with the rest of the millions of pounds of excess. I don’t know anyone who eats spleen, onions or not. And there really isn’t a market for the milliions of pounds of chicken guts either, the feathers are actually more valuable when turned into 80% protein meal. What to do with the guts is the problem. Organs are too oily to be useful when dried into meal.

So you have a large supply of beef and chicken byproducts that can be bought cheaply if you can find a use for them. It was a case of sourcing cheap ingredients first and then finding ways to utililize them rather than finding out what Fluffy wants and starting with that.

Having said all of the above…I never saw any pork byproducts used at all. And later when I was promoted to purchasing the commodities we used I don’t think any salesperson ever tried to sell me pork.

My personal opinion is that in addition to the concerns mentioned in Cecil’s column, is that there is just less pork byproduct that isn’t used by humans. We eat the feet, and instead of making leather from the skin, we eat that as pork rinds. Sausage, and bacon, there can never be enough!

The other interesting question that needs to be asked is just what *are *all the pork byproducts used for if not pet food? I suspect that the remainder goes into generic meat and bone meal, in order to protect Fluffy.

That is my outdated two cents on the subject.

So the reason that there’s very little pork in pet food is that there isn’t an excess supply of pork byproducts like there is with other types of meats, because humans eat a larger percentage of the usable meat in pigs? That’s quite an interesting idea and makes at least a little sense.

Forget Pork and Mice. If you want to make cat food that our cats would love, you should make it in Moth Flavor.

Of course, it would be hard to compete with the Live Thing. To our cats, “Moth” is a Game with a Snack at the end.

Doesn’t all live “stalking food” contain a snack at the end to a carnivore?

I can see a gourmet line of cat foods now: Moth flavor, Moth Lite, Mouse (heads only), Mouse (with extra tails), English Sparrow with Blue Jay garnish, Cute Little Bunny flavor…

When I read the column, I was wondering if at least historically we were using all the pork byproducts for hot dogs.

We can certainly get rabbit flavour cat food in the UK.

Oh, I love to eat them mouseys,
Them mouseys what I love to eat.
I bite they little heads off,
and nibble on they tiny feet.
—B. Kliban

That verse is on one of my coffee mugs.

Beggin Strips are TVP and flavorings, as I recall. I am sure dogs would love real bacon, but who would ever share?