December 4, 2011

Lapping up the history of cat food

Day 338 of Vintage 365

Very recently, in the midst of a highly stressful month, a special date nearly slipped by without my remembering. "Nearly" is the keyword here though, for I think that no matter how chaotic, frazzled or harried a month, I could never let November 23rd go past with recalling how that particular date just happens to be the one on which my husband and I adopted our splendidly sweet rescue cat, Stella, back in 2008.

Naturally on the petite size, Stella was still quite tiny when we brought her home (despite being about 11 weeks old at the time), and so we've really had a chance to watch her grow both in terms of size and maturity over the past three years. In that time she's filled our lives with an abundance of immeasurable joy, entertainment, and feline friendship, and we are beyond grateful for her presence in our lives every day.

Last month on the 23rd, as I sat watching Stella playing merrily with one of her toys (of which she has a hefty collection - given how much the mister and I love to spoil our darling kitty!), I began thinking about the history of domestic cats which in turn lead to reflections on the origins of commercially prepared cat food.

History buff that I am, I knew that I'd soon be writing a Chronically Vintage post on that very topic for all of my fellow cat lovers to enjoy.

For nearly as far back as humankind has kept dogs and cats as pets, these dear companions were either left to fend for themselves when meal time came around or provided with scraps/less desirable pieces of human food.

Evidentially this approach was enough to keep both species alive as a whole, yet as the Victorian era progressed, the view on pet food gradually began to change with the introduction of the first commercially prepared dog and cat food (both of which the brand Spratt was a driving force of in the late 1800s).

Though today many people might argue that some of the ingredients in the first moist pet foods were shockingly unpleasant to think about (e.g., horse meat), the availability of store bought cat and dog food meant that pet owners could now take the task of feeding their pets out of those very animals’ hands (paws) and into their own, thus helping to cut down on the malnutrition and poor health that sometimes arose when pets were left to hunt/scavenge for their food themselves.

By the mid-twentieth century canned cat food was  available in various seafood flavours, such as the tuna fish variety offered up by the brand Purr during the 1950s in the charming advertisement image below.

{Darling 1950s illustrated Purr cat food ad via hmdavid on Flickr – don’t you just love the cute slogan (“the Catillac of pet foods”) at the bottom?}


It was around this same time that dry cat food (aka, kibble) began to emerge on the market, following in the footsteps of dry dog kibble and biscuits, both of which had been around for a few decades (particularly biscuits), as brands that are now household names like Purina started manufacturing their well know pet food products.

Over the decades that followed more and more varieties (and one might argue, in the case of some brands at least, better quality) of cat food - both wet and dry - started hitting grocery and pet store shelves, including (but in no way limited to) beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon, mixed seafood, and surf & turf versions.

Cats and their owners are spoiled for choice these days, which an especially good thing if you have a finicky eater like our precious Ms. Stella, who's partial to poultry flavours of pate and finely diced/minced varieties of canned cat food, as well as dry poultry centered kibble and treats. Initially, as a wee little kitten she was adverse to seafood (save for boneless, skinless canned salmon), but as she's grown up, I've been able to introduce a couple of wet seafood based cat foods into her routine without much in the way of an objection.

While I'm all for a great many elements of days gone past, I'm thankful for the progression (including a good understanding of proper feline nutrition) in pet food that the world has seen in the last century and highly suspect that Stella (who got a very generous sized portion of her favourite chicken pate cat food on her adoption anniversary) is too! Smile

1 comment:

  1. I love her name. Mine is named Sophie and she is my first child hehee There is nothing more darling than furbaby love! Happy Anniversary Stella!! xox