The mantra “made in America” is leading the charge when it comes to pet food. It is even defining the products getting the most attention in the cat food aisle.
The newest cat food kibble formula from Annamaet Pet Food, Feline Sustain No. 29, highlights that manufacturers are cognizant of this and equally fussy about their recipes. This recipe got its name because Rob Downey’s nutrition team reformulated it 29 times before they were satisfied it met their high expectations in optimum nutrition, with sustainably sourced ingredients, and that it was a formula cats would enjoy. The recipe is fishbased, consisting of wild line caught Alaskan cod and two sources certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an independent non-profit organization that sets a standard for sustainable fishing. The formula is also grain-free.
“I don’t consider cats to be picky about their food because they are being difficult. I think when it comes to tastes and textures, they simply have their favorites— just like people!” said Downey, president and founder of the family-owned business. “But when it comes to kibble, it’s not only about taste, but also about the size and the shape of the kibble that is important. It has to be something that cats of all ages can easily pick up and comfortably chew. We put a lot of thought into our kibble shapes.”
The shape of the Feline Sustain No. 29 is a triangle with curved sides, making it easy for cats to pick up. The company’s Original Cat Food recipe is a chicken and fish formula, and the kibble is a rectangle with a small hole in the middle. The kibble shape of the Grain Free Formula (also chicken and fish) is a round kibble with a hole that replicates a Cheerio.
Further, all the Annamaet feline recipes contain cranberries, which are a powerful antioxidant to support urinary tract health; DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) that support brain development and healthy cognitive function; chelated minerals for a healthy immune system; and taurine, which is a key ingredient in feline foods to prevent blindness.
Palatability is such a key feline issue, and often, palatants are high in fat.
“We are very cognizant of weight gain in felines and have sidestepped the issue of high calorie enhancers by focusing on natural palatants such as crab meal and herring meal to enhance the flavors of the foods,” Downey added.
Packaging the USA Food
At the most recent Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Florida, Caru Pet Food introduced its newest product, Cat Stews, that comes in Tetra Pak cartons. Along with the company’s two dog stew lines Classic and Daily Dish, it is the first USA-made pet food to be packaged in Tetra Pak cartons.
“This BPA-free sustainable packaging keeps stews fresh without preservatives. Plus, the Tetra Pak carton is made from up to 70 percent renewable materials that are post-consumer recyclable, making them eco-friendly,” explained Adrian Pettyan, Caru’s CEO and co-founder with his wife, Pamela. “Once opened, the stews can be refrigerated for up to three days in the Tetra Pak carton, without any metallic taste.”
The stews for cats come in four feline- approved flavors, namely chicken, chicken with crab, turkey, and wild salmon and turkey.
“They are made with carefully crafted recipes with limited ingredients and made to smell and taste like home-cooked meals that will please any picky eater and are fit for a healthy feline lifestyle,” Pettyan added.
Further, the stews are American-made in a human grade facility using human grade ingredients sourced in the USA along with added vitamins, minerals and taurine. They contain no GMO ingredients, grains or gluten and are packaged in six-ounce cartons.
Expanding the Line
New recipes from WellPet focus on the company’s Wellness Complete Health and Wellness CORE lines and are geared to give cat owners more options from which to choose when it comes to providing felines with nourishment as well as delicious flavors, to meet feline taste preferences.
“Gone are the days of testing every cat food on the shelf,” said Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer experience at WellPet. “That’s why we have expanded our dry, wet and treat offerings for cats to include more grain-free dry foods, new flaked forms, and protein-rich pates to help pet parents find a recipe their cat will love.
“True wellness means more than proper nutrition, it’s also about bringing excitement and enjoyment to mealtime,” she continued. “But we know cats have famously epicurean palates, and finding that magic mix of texture and taste that appeals to your cat can be a challenge. That’s why we are introducing even more recipes for cats in order to make it easier for pet parents to find meals their cat will love, without sacrificing natural nutrition.”
The latest offerings include two new recipes specifically formulated for the lifestyle of indoor cats. There is the Wellness Complete Health Indoor Chicken and the Healthy Weight recipe which is grainfree and made with high-quality protein, fruit and vegetables balanced for an indoor cat’s lifestyle.
In the Wellness CORE line there is Indoor Ocean, a new salmon and herring meal recipe that supports lean muscle mass with a protein-rich and poultry-free dry food. Wellness CORE 95% are new grain-free wet cat recipes made with 95 percent meat in a completed and balanced smooth pate that comes in four recipes.
American Nutrition recently introduced its first cat food under its Elevate brand. The cat food recipes are geared to complement the brand’s current portfolio of dog food as they all contain the same common product benefits, including real meat as the number one ingredient; grain-, potato- and chicken-free recipes; and being manufactured in the company’s own Ogden, Utah, plant.
Radagast Pet Food, Inc., makers of Rad Cat Raw Diet, manufactures in the United States but relies on some exclusive ingredients that can only be sourced in other parts of the world.
“We import our organic psyllium from India because that’s the only region where it’s grown. Our beef gelatin is only producted in South America, the organic dulse we use if from Nova Scotia and our venison is pastured in New Zealand,” explained Tracey Hatch-Rizzi, VP and co-founder of the company. “Everything else is sourced in the United States.”
Consumer Wants and Needs
According to Nancy Bleznak, owner of Medford Pet Supplies in Medford, New Jersey, it’s important to rotate kibble and can brands when selecting food for a cat.
“Consider this as insurance in case a particular product is discontinued or recalled for a period of time. Cats that are hooked on one food and only one food may not easily transition to something else under such circumstances,” Bleznak said. “Also, I always advise my customers that it’s important to vary the proteins to ensure that the cat doesn’t develop an allergy to one particular protein.
“It’s been a decade since the big pet food recall in 2007, but there’s no question that it’s still very much in the minds of caring pet parents,” Bleznak continued. “They are still asking about melamine and it’s become standard for pet parents to ask where the food they are interested in purchasing is made because they only want American-made (or Canadian) products and are emphatic about not considering foods coming from China.”
When it comes to actual ingredients, Bleznak notes there is a lot of educating to be done to explain to customers that certain ingredients are sourced from other countries not because they are cheaper or inferior, but because certain parts of the world specialize in certain ingredients.
“Right now, I believe that major players in the natural pet food category are being very upfront and transparent about their recipes, and this is helping the whole consumer education process about ingredients,” she concluded.