A Fancy Feast revelation, and the saga of sustainable seafood

Probably most people reading this blog are a lot like you and me – we care enormously about nature and our environment. The planet is numero uno in my book, baby. Being in the mix, working for an environmental group, I’m surrounded by good influencers and bastions of knowledge who make conscientious decisions everyday to make less of a destructive impact. But I still get excited when I have an environmental epiphany all on my own!

A few days ago, I was strolling around Target with my wonderful mom (pre-3.am. Thanksgiving sale insanity), picking up a few essentials: Tom’s toothpaste, an ironing board and cat food for my mom’s fluff ball of love. We were reviewing the selections of Fancy Feast, deciding on what delectable flavors Bella would be in the mood for over the next month. There was roasted turkey, marinated chicken morsels, grilled beef (pass on the grilled liver), and flaked tuna and shrimp feast.

… Hold on there a second. Tuna and shrimp feast?! I looked some more, and also spotted a can of shredded yellowfin tuna and savory salmon! I immediately flipped the can over to look at the ingredients listing. There it was: tuna as the second item. I guess not having a cat of my own, I was always ignorantly inclined to believe that cat (and dog) food was made mostly of meat by-products and some sort of soy or wheat product to hold it all together (unless of course you shop at those gourmet pet supply places or bake your own doggie biscuits).

But there it was, right in front of my very nose – a source of seafood consumption that never once crossed my mind before. “Holy Cow!” I exclaimed, as my mom could visibly see the lightbulb click on. “We can’t get this – we don’t know if the fish is sustainably sourced or not!” My mom did a secret eye-roll but lovingly obliged and switched out the tuna for more chicken.

I came back to the office to do some quick research – I didn’t turn up anything conclusive, but from personal experience I estimate there to be at least half a million domestic felines in San Diego county alone! How much fancy feast consumption that amounts to on an annual basis I can only imagine to literally be tons.

Fact of the matter is, our house pets are very significant contributors to seafood consumption.  And while I go around handing out seafood watch cards like sticks of gum, I never thought to talk to my friends about pet food. There aren’t really any alternative canned options on the market right now, though Mars PetCare, makers of Whiskas and Sheba, have recently committed to use only sustainably sourced fish in all its pet food by 2020.  It’s a step in the right direction, but a good reminder that supporting sustainable fisheries doesn’t just impact people – we need sustainable fisheries so humans and cats alike can continue on with their fancy feasting!

Published in Marine Conservation

Latest from San Diego Coastkeeper

3 Responses for A Fancy Feast revelation, and the saga of sustainable seafood

  1. Whitney says:

    Wow. I’d never thought about that as an issue before. Info like this is such a wake up call that my lifestyle has so many impacts I never stop to think about. I’m sure the fish in cat food isn’t caught locally, but I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief that our oceans here in southern CA are getting some protections put in place while there’s still time. Only a few more weeks until MPAs are finalized!!!!!

  2. Molly says:

    This illustrates a great point. It is sometimes difficult to see the far stretching effects that we have as consumers until attention is brought to it. Is is good to know that there are people recognizing these things and sharing these realizations with others. Going above and beyond sharing a realization is all the work that is being done on a larger scale to ensure that some of the pressures that we as a society place on the oceans is being reprieved. This will hopefully happen in the form of finalized marine protected areas. It is the responsible thing to do.

  3. Anastasia Alpizar says:

    hey I’m writing a paper for a class about this!!!
    It really is difficult to see where fancy feast gets their fish from and exactly how many tons of fish they are distributing a year
    But with overfishing being a huge dilemma I am thinking there should be a ban on seafood consistent pet food

    First of all feeding cats fish is extremely dangerous because of the Iodine, mercury, magnesium, and preservatives.. Cats were not made to eat fish! they eat rodents and bugs!!
    Second of all, ALL these cats eating ALL THIS FISH, has to be disrupting the food chain of the ocean because we are definitely fishing out many fishes prey and predators to feed them to cats, which do not fit into the oceanic food chain!

    I would love your thoughts on my paper, since this is the closest thing I have come across to help my point here!