Photo Credit: Chris via Flickr

Nom Nom Nom!

Cat food hasn’t always come in cans and bags. Actually, for most of history domestic cats ate whatever prey they could catch on their own. Typically that prey consisted of mice, birds, insects, and other small animals. As cats came to live with humans, cats would also receive scraps from humans.

It was the mid 1800s before any commercial pet foods came on the market. James Spratt created the first biscuit specifically marketed for dogs in London in 1860. A commercial cat food made from horse meat was sold in English stores by 1876. The United States got it’s first taste of Spratt’s pet foods 19 years later. For the most part, commercial pet food was a luxury that not everyone could afford. Table scraps and small prey continued to be the most popular food for domestic cats.

The pet food industry began to expand in the 1920’s. Little to no regulation existed for pet food so it could be made by anyone with pretty much any ingredients. However, commercial pet foods grew in popularity among Americans.

World War II was a game changer for the pet food industry. The American government considered pet food to be a non-essential and rationed the metals that were used for pet food cans. The canned pet food industry was all but pushed out of existence. Most pet food brands turned towards dry foods that did not need to be packaged in a can. People were also beginning to take to processed foods, like Spam, that were made to sustain soldiers on the battle front. These processed foods began making their way into pet foods as well.

Following the war dry pet food remained popular. Human foods were in very high demand and the scraps and waste from human food production went straight into pet food. The process of extrusion, a process borrowed from the making of dry cereals, made dry kibble easy to mass manufacture. Kibble colors and shapes as well as fancy packaging were used to make pet foods more appealing to pet owners.

More recently, pet owners have become concerned about the ingredients used to make pet foods. Making foods species appropriate, natural, and fresh has been a focus in the industry. Pet owners continue to press pet food manufacturers to step up the quality of their ingredients.

For more information on the history of cat food, please read my post The History of Cat Food.

Want to compete?

I got a score of 17,808 on this word search. Can you get a higher one? The faster you find all of the words, the higher your score will be.

Instructions for the Interactive Word Search

  1. Words from the word list on the right are hidden within the puzzle. The words may be spelled forward, backward, or on a diagonal.
  2. Click on the first letter of the word, drag the cursor across the word, and click on the last letter of the word.
  3. The puzzle is finished once you have found all of the words.

 What was the first food you fed your cat?