This is Ruaridh (Rooah-ree or Rory if you can’t manage the gaelic pronunciation). He likes chasing flies, not birds; sleeping on the laundry, not his radiator bed; sitting on my shoulder, not my keyboard; eating tomato from the pizza, not the pepperoni; cat treats, cat milk and wet cat food as long as it’s not Whiskas.
Whiskas is the big named brand for cat food for most Brits. It has the advantage over supermarket products of being a brand that has a more solid marketing front for pet owners. It also has the advantage over Purina and Felix products as these have been given classy, up-market advertisements and are marginally more expensive. For your average cat owner, you’re gonna go for Whiskas because it’s the balanced middle range option that won’t break the bank.
But Ruaridh is Ruaridh… right? My cat is just being picky, right? Having originally bought Whiskas cheaper jellied wet food and Ruaridh choosing to go hungry or eat more dry food, it seemed right to branch out into their more premium version. Again, cat wouldn’t eat it. Didn’t matter if it was fish, which he usually loves regardless, he meowed on for something else after giving the food a quick lick to decide.
So… it started me thinking. Like many people, I have been aware of the less than savoury conditions most for-meat-animals have been kept in and the way it is processed, thanks to enlightening documentaries and talks like those in Food inc. and the Ted talk series What’s wrong with what we eat? A befitting conclusion then, was that whatever crap it is that we are given I can only imagine what waste products from those processes are being put in pet food. No bloody wonder he won’t eat it.
I did not have to look far for connections with other large brand companies, as Whiskas is owned by Mars. Although I am not certain of how many, I know the Mars Incorporated group own a few different subsidairy businesses to their confectionary lines such as Pedigree and Uncle Ben’s rice. In the search, I also got distracted by Whiskas website http://whiskas.co.uk It consists of a series of small soundbites, each the start of a chain of links with “cat owner advice”.The astonishing thing about the soundbites and the reason I got distracted was that each is audaciously know-it-all and self serving. Makes sense; it’s their website and there they are trying to sell an image of the brand. It’s not poorly conceived, just poorly executed; a 3-year-old could see through this bullshit.
No pet food ever claims to be less than something that provides a balanced and nutricious diet for your pet, regardless of who they are. But balanced to what extent? Cats are pure carnivores so you assume there aren’t vegetables or carbohydrates in it.
Whiskas claim is that it’s association with Waltham Centre for pet nutrition (a research establishment) means you can be sure that they make sure all of their meals provide natural goodness for your cat and are also nutrionally complete and balanced. ‘Also’.
“…it is through studying [their] behaviour that we have developed a better understanding of our feline friends than anyone else so that we can help owners provide the very best care to their cats.” Literally anyone? Did they do clinical comparison tests to be able to say that so boldly? I went looking for trial results in Web of Science and Google Scholar and came up with zip. The only thing that got results was looking only for Waltham centre. Three results of inconsequential post-grad papers.
I shit you not, the three bulletins in the Whiskas website nutrition section (the section in which you expect them to divulge some of the secret of what it is exactly that your cat needs that canines and primates don’t) are vitamins, catnip and the exclusion of allergens. No fucking shit, Sherlock. And not all cats like catnip; everyone knows that. Just saying.
Ruaridh happens to be allergic to most plastics, so I had a wee look into the allergen section. Maybe they can tell me more about what being allergic to plastic means or something?
“Some people are allergic to cats, but did you know that some cats are allergic to different kinds of food?” I half thought reading that sentence that it was going to conclude by telling me they can be allergic to humans. That would be too fun for Whiskas though.
“… the simplest solution is to make sure she doesn’t eat the offending food.” So the website also genders the cat when at a loss for other terms that isn’t the compassionless ‘it’.
Well Whiskas, by my findings my male cat is allergic to you- wet foods, dry food, cat milkshake and the treats of various types- and I now have no choice but to exclude you from his diet. Through a loss of faith in your branding and the quality of research at the Waltham centre for pet nutrition, I now assume that either only female cats like Whiskas (and you only like them) or you are getting us to feed our pets with a worse hotdog mix than we can imagine. That’s not nutricious, that’s gross.