Daily Archives: December 17, 2006

New food related pages

Over the past weeks, I’ve made a few more pages about cat food. Hope they provide useful reference:

So you see, ranting isn’t the one thing I occupy my online time with.


Women fall so easily for marketing hype

Kitty Power: A Woman’s Best Friend. This is an online article which Cat mentioned on her blog a few days ago. Cats are great friends if they’re given a chance, but mostly it’s still women who get them, not men:

For a creature that has suffered in the past from its association with spinsterhood, the TV advertisement, which stars a British Blue Shorthair cat, marks the latest in a remarkable series of PR triumphs. Not only has the advertising industry begun to re-invent their image – the Bacardi Breezer adverts star a silver-haired cat for example – but several leading style-icons, including the artist Tracey Emin have used them in recent work.

According to experts, this reversal of fortunes is in part due to low-maintenance ownership, which lends itself to the lifestyle of upwardly-mobile career women. Men, who tend to want unconditional loyalty in their pets, still prefer a dog. “There used to be this stereotype of the post-menopausal spinster of this parish, who would live with 15 cats and was ever so slightly mad,” says the cat behaviour counsellor, Vicky Halls. “But it’s just not so any more, in my professional experience.

“Nowadays, you get a lot of stylish, successful and independent women whose Achilles heel is their cat. They can be strong and self-assured and in control, and then a cat comes into their life and they suddenly become all gooey.”

In it, it is mentioned:

In a development that would have delighted London’s most famous mayor, that distinction now rests with the humble cat, a pet that outnumbers its canine rival in this country by a million and a half. Not only do an estimated 4.7 million women in the UK own cats – almost four times the number of men – but developments in the £7m-a-year cat-food market suggest an ever-increasing proportion are drawn from the trendiest sections of society.

Eying this lucrative market,

the makers of Sheba announced they had hired a Hollywood director to film a new advertising campaign aimed at attracting, “stylish” and “independent” women to their product.

Marketing is everything. The main thrust of this article seem to be a promotion of a lifestyle branding of the keeping of cats, and in the process, the benefits catfood manufacturers can reap from being part of the hype, namely Sheba.

I took a look at Sheba, the brand so trying to tout itself as the brand ““stylish” and “independent” women” opt to feed their cats.

On their US site (strangely this is the only one which actually lists all ingredients – don’t women elsewhere care to know what’s in the food they feed their beloved cats?), and on their menu page, there are 12 flavours, and ALL the flavours list some sort of by-products in their ingredients list!

Now, it is true that by-products is a dirty, over-abused word in the world of pet nutrition. You may think a brand that targets “stylish and independent women”, who no doubt are savvy consumers very aware of their rights and would not stand to be fobbed off, would not dare try any hanky panky. But before you grant benefit of doubt to Sheba, the catfood brand with such a finely marketed product, consider that Sheba is owned by Mars Incorporated, the conglomerate that also owns Whiskas, Pedigree and Royal Canin, the by-product and filler filled pet foods.

Why should this be a concern? It should be a concern to anyone who cares for their cats because

What most consumers don’t know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered “unfit for human consumption,” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.
(source: What’s Really In Pet Food)

Also, do you think “stylish and independent women” would buy and feed their cats pet food that tortures other cats, or in the case of Sheba, belong to a company that makes other petfood brands that do?

Brands to Boycott

As mentioned above, the main culprits for cruel and unethical animal testing are the major international ‘pet’ food businesses.

The majority of pet food brands available in the UK are produced by two animal testing companies – “Nestlé Purina/Friskies” and “Pedigree, Masterfoods (Mars Inc).”

  • Nestlé Purina/Friskies: Alpo, Bonio, Felix, Go Cat, Gourmet, Omega Complete, Proplan, Spillers, Vital Balance, Winalot.
  • Pedigree, Masterfoods (Mars Inc): Bounce, Cesar, Chappie, Frolic, James Wellbeloved, Katkins, Kitekat, Pal, Pedigree Chum, Royal Canin, Sheba, Techni-cal (US & Canada), Whiskas. Pedigree also manufacture Thomas rabbit food and Trill bird food.NB Techni-Cal (Europe) although not owned by Pedigree, Masterfoods (Mars Inc) is still a company to boycott as they have not signed up to the BUAV No Animal Testing Standard.

So far, none of the supermarkets have pledged to produce their foods without unethical testing processes.

All the other brands of food have so far failed to sign up to the ‘No Animal Testing Pet Food Standard’. This means they cannot or will not ensure that their products do not contribute to harmful systematic testing processes.

To encourage them to clean up their acts, ask them why they have not signed up to the ‘No Animal Testing Pet Food Standard’. Please forward any responses to us at Uncaged.
(source: Uncaged Campaigns: Pet food and animal testing)

Marketing is too much hype. If you read TODAY, the Singapore tabloid, you’d notice the cute, adorable and eye-catching ads Whiskas take out. Sadly, Marketing hype has also become a bible of sorts for people-I’ve come across people who tell me they feed their cats Whiskas because they saw the advertising, and a brand that advertises can’t be all that bad!

To that, I am always saying: Think, people, think. MacDonald’s got one of the bestest marketing juggernaut around. But you don’t go lining their profit margins exclusively, do you?

Bottomline, don’t buy into the hype – KNOW what you are REALLY buying. Good place to begin your pet food nutrition education:

  1. Read up Cat Food and Nutrition on the about cats site.
  2. Sign up for the “The Role of Food in Your Cat’s Health” e-newletter here.

And by the way, I’m a member of the sex Sheba is trying to hoodwink with its marketing. Fortunately, I only fit 2/3 of their target market criteria – I’m a cat slave, I’m independent, I’m just not stylish. I am therefore, safe from their crafty wiles.