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26 March 2009


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Colorado Transplant

By the way, could you put a picture of your unicorn on your posting. I do not think I have ever seen one! (:^)


That unicorn must be in pretty rough shape by now, given how long you've been trying to figure out the right thing to feed her!

Colorado Transplant

I have a suspicion that the ordinary adult dry cat food does not contain enough protein and moisture.

The best I manage is to give my cats dry food along with some kind of canned fish--mackarel, salmon, or tuna.

I do agree with your thoughts about the increase in health problems could be related to a poor diet. Humans now are suffering from a poor diet, also.

I applaud the diet you are giving your pets, Christie. However, one of my vets thinks that human food will upset my cats' stomachs. At that time it was the poisoning food that was causing red blood in the diarrhea. What a bloody mess! The vet technician chided me as though I was dummy-dumb. She said, "You have been giving them human food". Now I am glad I did, because they lived through the poisoning from the canned food.

I love it when you discuss food, medicines, and general health of pets, Christie.

Carol V

To answer your question in this title---I say, On behalf of my deceased kitties, Jessic and Smudge, a big fat NO.....I feel "AAFCO" had done nothing to have prevented the melamine nightmare or even now to prevent it from happening again with another non-protein nitrogen. Sadly, prior to March 2007 I had assumed this "stamp" meant something....but now I know better...to me it is a marketing tool, not a safety tool...

Christie Keith

I've just seen way, way too many small companies run by idealistic individuals who become completely overwhelmed and lose a handle on quality control, customer service, and who knows what else. It's incredibly common. And I want that company to be right there where I can keep an eye on them, not halfway around the world.


I use the NRC recommendations as my reference of choice if I need to look something up. AAFCO is an organization whose negatives outweigh its positives for me.

Colorado Transplant

Thanks, 2CatMom (which I am, also--having only 2 cats now).

I plan on investigating their websites.

I, too, hate to promote any single brand--but my cats need to try something nutritious.

Colorado Transplant

2CatMom--could you tell us what the name of the can at $1.99 for a 5.5 oz can is?

Once in a while a give my cats Fancy Feast, but I smell a lot of liver in it--which might not be so good for Sophie and Inca.


The only place I disagree with you is that small companies should be local.

I use cat food from a company that started in Thailand as a manufacturer of people food for the EU market and all their food (including pet food) passes EU HUMAN standards for quality. They have additional certification from Australia, Japan and Great Britain, they inspect their suppliers, conduct internal audits every two months, get none of their ingredients from China, and use no glutens.

As for animal feeding trials, they also have a cat rescue where they feed the food to the cats (as well as to their own 3 cats).

At $1.99 for a 5.5 oz can (though they just came out with a slightly less expensive line using tuna rather than more expensive fish) its not cheap, but think of what one vet visit will cost you.

I just have to hope that they don't sell out to some big manufacturer that will cheapen the ingrediants and cut corners.

Colorado Transplant

Years ago when I was a demonstrator for a cat and dog food company I would tell the people at the pet store that the food was nutritionally balanced and that it had the AAFCO label on it.

We were trained to say that. And then I would show the percentage of protein, fat, carbs, etc. on the label.

I believed the story myself and that is how I caused my former cats to be sick from the food.


Colorodo Transplant - I hate to sound like a shill for the company but its Weruva:


The only downside is that one of my cats does not like the chicken flavors so I use some other brands so that they are not eating a diet that's 100% fish.

The new line that I just saw in the store this week is BFF (Best Feline Friends). Its made by the Weruva people. The main difference is that all flavors are primarily tuna. I bought a couple of cans but haven't used them yet, so I can't speak to quality or whether my cats like them. Its running $1.39 a 5.5 oz can which is about what Weruva was running before their recent price increase.

And I noticed that they have a tuna/chicken combo which if my fussy cat will eat it would be great!


Another similar brand is Tiki Cat. I couldn't find their web site, so here's a picture & description of their varieties. The one big drawback for me is that it is only made in the smaller cans which is really uneconomical when you have more than 1 cat.


H. Houlahan

The feeding trial requirements are insanely inadequate.

Eight dogs for six months, and you can kill two of them! What's 25% mortality between friends? When I first heard this number from a natural foods advocate, I thought she was making it up, it seemed so improbable.

And of course, the dogs are typically laboratory-bred beagles, kenneled, with nothing to do but eat and try not to die. That's SOOO relevant to the life of a normal pet dog. Don't even start me on working and hunting dogs.

Is some testing better than no testing? Not when it gives consumers a totally false sense of security.

I remember when Alpo's "real meat" killed dogs (that may have been pre-AAFCO). Taurine deficiency that blinded cats. Blocked toms from the mineral loads in cat food. Taurine deficiency in lamb-based foods that killed collie dogs and some others. And as the animals were getting sick or dying, the industry was claiming that the foods were "complete and balanced" -- for every animal, all the time.


Comment by H. Houlahan — March 26, 2009 @ 6:23 am

Is some testing better than no testing? Not when it gives consumers a totally false sense of security.

As someone who does testing for a living, I completely agree with this statement. Often it's a challenge figuring out which is the right test for the property you're trying to determine. Or finding a way to relate the test results to what goes on in the "real world". In fact, those are questions that lie at the heart of ALL good testing methodology.

It's easy to just "test more" because at least you're "producing data" (and heaven knows I've dealt with researchers who live by that philosophy more times than I care to think about during my career). The trick is to make sure the data is relevant and predictive. Otherwise, it's just GIGO - Garbage in, Garbage out.

Linda Kaim


Interesting article sent to me by a colleague a few years ago.

Colorado Transplant

Just me, but I used to live near the Weruva people so maybe just that one place could be considered local. I contacted them by e-mail and Mr. Forman seemed very dedicated to his pets and his pet food.

Maybe this could be an exception to the local rule, Christie.

Susan Fox

There's one other thing that can happen- choking on their own success and then getting caught in the bind you describe between being "too big and too small". And you're right, they should have had a business plan to account for that devoutly to be wished for eventuality.

Christie Keith

my criteria applies to manufactured food by small, but not one-person companies.

Not to belabor this past the point of any conceivable interest to anyone but me, LOL, but I don't mean "one person companies," precisely.

There are, roughly speaking, two kinds of pet food companies. The big corporations, and foods like Iams etc. And "boutique" foods, which may employ a dozen folks or conceivably even more, but are the product of the passionate commitment of a single individual.

Sometimes those companies get pretty large. Sometimes they even get bought by corporations. But often these companies start out with enormous potential, great ideas, a wonderful product, and the obsessive idealism of the founder driving it all.

And then reality hits, and time passes. The owners often become overwhelmed. The first thing to crack is usually customer service. Orders are late, websites aren't updated, email and phone calls are no logner returned. The company is too big to take care of business and too small to make the leap to the bigger systems and payroll that keep things running smoothly.

For most company, what's needed at this stage is a solid business plan to fund the necessary expansion, but often, these idealists are crappy business people. So they either lose customers as their customer service falters, thus becoming small enough to function again, or they close, or they sell out to a bigger company, or they start to cut corners to make more money, or they just flounder.

See what I mean?

Christie Keith

Is there anyplace we can find a comparison of the major differences between the AAFCO and NRC nutritional recommendations for dogs and cats?

I wanted to do one, but the NRC guidelines are nearly $300 to purchase, and I didn't even check the AAFCO. I will contact Dr. Moser and see what, if anything, he knows about that!


Is there anyplace we can find a comparison of the major differences between the AAFCO and NRC nutritional recommendations for dogs and cats?


Christie: I got what you meant by 'here' but I didn't understand your definition of 'small'.

In any case - I think we're all trying to achieve the same thing - I wish I had the motivation to make my cat's food but hell, I don't make my own food. So, my criteria applies to manufactured food by small, but not one-person companies.

Christie Keith

By "here" I mean "here," as in... in San Francisco.

Menu Foods isn't even remotely "here." Also, I limited my comments to SMALL companies... the boutique one-person shows. My standards for big companies are different, as I explained in the post. So none of this could ever apply to Menu, Nutro, etc.

Anne T

There was an interesting bit on Discovery news on the 24th.


A study published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice has discovered a link between certain CCD behaviors such as tail chasing and a high cholesterol level in dogs. Chlesterol levels are usually ignored by vets and are not part of normal testing and if further studies bare this out, such tests ought to be included, or we find a better way than reliance on AAFCO for our pets' nutritional needs.

But what really got my knickers in a wad was the statement to Discovery News by Lisa Peterson, Director of AKC Communications who mouthed this inanity:

"Although a change to a lower fat diet could help alleviate compulsive tail-chasing in dogs, Peterson doubts high cholesterol is always a result of overeating, since "manufactured pet foods must all meet governmental regulations for protein, ash, fat and water content, and more."

"Dogs don't elect to gorge themselves on french fries all day," she said."

Every dog I know would elect to gorge themselves on salty trans fat laden french fries 24/7 if they only had the access! That notwithstanding, there are absolutely no government laws regulating the percentages of fat, water, minerals, protein etc in pet foods. There is the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that does 'attempt' to restrict what can go into pet foods, but there is no regulation percentages, just hype from the industry spokes-organisation, AAFCO about 'balanced nutrition'as AAFCo sees it.


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

If you are using a commercial food like many of us do, proximity has nothing to do with safety.

It doesn't matter to me if the item is manufactured here or in Thailand - what concerns me is whether suppliers are being inspected and their ingredients are being independently tested, whether the manufacturer uses its own outside quality control inspectors, whether agencies with some teeth are in the plant, whether they're using some type of long-term feeding trial, etc.

Menu foods was 'here', Nutro was 'here', the peanut processing plant was 'here., spinach was 'here.' Frankly, given the performance of the FDA and the USDA - I'll trust in certification from the EU, Japan and Australia way before I'll trust in the US to protect me or my pets.

But that's just me.

Colorado Transplant

By the way, we are having a blizzard out here in Colorado and I am glad my husband and I and our two cats are snug and we have enough cat food and human food to last us until we get dug out. Ah, the Californians have none of this!

Sandi K

When you look at the list of AAFCO officials, you kind of wonder about things with so many reps from Pet Food Institute, American Feed Assoc, American Pet Product Manuf., National Renderers Assoc. PFI has a seat in every committee for AAFCO, mostly Nancy K.Cook aka Nancy Hershey Bar...."Have we figured out how to put a COOL label on a Hershey bar? It's about 10 feet long." PFI has done everything they can to limit the passage of food safety bills connected to pet food, if AAFCO allows such a presence from them, sorry to say they lose my trust. Another famous statement of hers: "She warned that U.S. legislators and others involved in trade negotiations with China, the source of the melamine, "must walk a tightrope. We can't insult them. They're our largest growing supplier of ingredients in the world."




Honest Kitchen is going to be featured on Food Network's "Will Work For Food" program on Sunday March 29:



Out of curiosity I emailed Nature's Variety, the brand of dog food I use. They replied that they use the new NRC guidelines to make their formulas, even though they legally still have to post the AAFCO data on the bag. They admitted AAFCO was pretty much 'bare minimum' and that their goals were higher than that.

It was nice to hear from a company like that. =)


My cats LOVE what's known in my house as g'filthy fish! They hear that vacuum seal on the jar opening and a major begging and mewing fest begains.

And speaking of Oy gevalt, the Passover Seder last year at my was house was cat insanity time: besides g'filthy fish we had chicken soup, chicken, sweet potatoes (Teddy loves them), a lamb shank, lots of people, too much wine, my mom yelling "Teddy get off the table", Teddy knocking over Elijah's cup, even Ida jumping on the table during dessert, well you get the idea.

And the year before both kitties were so good and watched their bug and rodent videos and paid no attention to us.

Go figure. I'm not sure whether I'm going to give the cats tranquilizers this year, or just take them myself. Or perhaps slip them in the wine.


Weruva is an offshoot of a human grade food plant in Thailand that has been supplying the EU for a number of years. So I do think they are past the very tiny stage but not at the very large. I don't think these are business rookies or overzealous idealists. I think they saw an opportunity, and had the expertise to jump in.

At the time of the pet food fandango, I had numerous email exchanges with Mr. Forman and I really think he knows what he's doing. (BTW - I have copies of their certifications from two years ago which Mr. Forman sent to me at that time).

Seriously, I'm much more concerned that they'll be bought out than they'll grow out of control. I'm not naive and I know something 'bad' could happen, but with them feeding several dozen cats daily with the food and weekly vet checks, I don't know of any other company that's doing as much.

So while I don't dismiss Christie's concerns, I think its unfair to make gross generalizations on how they operate based on what you've seen before, or what you think might happen. Go to their website. Ignore the cute marketing stuff. But read their safety material. Email Mr. Foreman and ask for copies of certifications like I did. Then make up your mind.

Now if I can only get them to create a gefilte fish flavor, we'd be all set.

Colorado Transplant

I hate gefilte fish. My mother use to make it all the time.

We had to eat beef brains, beef tongue, beef lungs.

Oye gevalt, I am making myself sick thinking about all those "delicacies".

I dunno, for myself I do try to eat local produce from Colorado if I can. For the cats,

it is more difficult for me to know what to do.


Whoa! I was curious to go take a look around at the product, but that Weruva website takes WAAAAAY too long to load. Mr. Forman needs to offer a lower-tech version of his online presence for people who don't care if all the images float prettily in space and have neat-O graphics associated with them!


I wouldn't worry too much about changing foods as long as you do it gradually.

After using several dry commercial diets I use mostly wet, Weruva with some Wellnes, and an occassional Merrick and Natural Balance. I've been giving them some dry Innova EVO - but we've cut way back due to Teddy's increasing weight.

I like to feed several different brands and flavors so that if there is a recall or other problem they are not stuck on just one food.

I've always done this with my cats - I honestly believe that's how they dodged a bullet during the recall - they were eating a recalled food but it was in rotation with three other brands. Once the recalls started, I had my suspicions about the food and stopped before it was actually pulled. I don't even want to think about the outcome if I had been feeding them only that one brand.

Colorado Transplant

My cats think it is natural to be on the table and counters--my son and his wife constantly try to keep their cats off said places.

It must have been a fun time, 2CatMom, at your house on the holiday. More gefilte fish this April, I expect, of which the cats will undoubtly have their share. I ought to try it on my cats. It should be "kosher". However, if I do, I will feed them on the floor, poor darlings.

Maybe I will even try Nature's Variety. Sometimes veterinarians or their assistants discourage clients from introducing new foods to their pets, saying that the pet may get diarrhea. However, my cats are young enough that I feel confident about the changes I may make.


I gave the cats the BFF tuna and chicken flavor cat food and they liked it. Its a little scrappier looking than the regular Weruva and its almost all tuna - I'm betting the other combos are much the same...so its not going to become a diet staple.


Well, I'm so disgusted with denatured meats, meals with high fluoride, zinc, Ca:P ratios, and the general PFC hide behind AAFCO when in trouble, spout no science to prove when people have sick animals.. that the EU standards look like fresh air & sunshine today.




And, any minute now, I'll be looking for 2009 FEDIAF nutrient guidelines.


I've just emailed several companies about shipping several brands to the USA... who knows, I may need to move to Canada :)

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