Cat food made from insects

There are compelling reasons to manufacture cat food from insects as it is a natural food resource for cats and an excellent source of protein. Importantly, the environmental footprint from insect produced protein is far less than for the equivalent protein produced from cows.

Cat and grasshopper
Photo: Getty Images
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Perhaps the obstacle in creating pet food from insects is that there are well established supply chains of raw materials for pet food from dubious sources such as road kill, diseased livestock and euthanised cats and dogs. Pet food is made from ingredients not fit for human consumption.

It is based on waste whereas insect based pet food is not. Insects for pet food are bred in facilities and that costs money. I am sure that this difference is an obstacle to getting insect based pet food off the ground and gaining traction in a competitive pet food market. And the current supply chains are well established with vested interests. Suppliers will hang on to their market.

In 2020, cat food made from insects is on the drawing board but not on the shelves. It might be on some shelves but it is not on the shelves of stores I visit in the UK.

The planning for it has been around for a while. For example, the last blog entry on the website conscientious.cat is dated Jan 17, 2016. It’s gone quiet it seems to me.

A British start up business, Bug Bakes makes dry dog food from crickets. They call their product ‘pet food’ which implies that they’ll start manufacturing cat food from insects as well.

An important point to make is that insect protein is just fine for cats. A significant part of the diet of the wildcat – the domestic cat’s ancestor – is insects. We often see our domestic cat companions eating insects, which is entirely normal for them so there is no fear that we are doing something unnatural.

A lot of cat guardians are environmentally aware and educated. They are distressed at the way humans are abusing the planet. Bug Bakes explains very nicely the environmental benefits of making companion animal food from bugs. Here are some examples:

To produce the same amount of protein we use two thousand times less water when using crickets compared to cattle. Seventeen times less land is needed to raise crickets compared to cattle. Deforestation is one of the great killers of wildlife. An horrendous amount of virgin forest is destroyed to create land for agriculture. Many wild cats live in forests. They are rapidly losing their home.

Emissions are reduced by a factor of 100 when using insects to create protein based foods compared to protein from beef. Cows emit a vast amount of methane (mainly through burping) which is a strong greenhouse gas with a global warming potential over 100 times greater than carbon dioxide.

As mentioned there are compelling reasons to make pet food from insects. The question is will it gain traction by overcoming vested interests in making pet food from waste? I have this grizzly theory that one reason for the ease at which cats and dogs have been euthanised at animal shelters in their millions over decades is because some of their carcasses go into the pet food manufacturing supply chain. If that is the case it encourages pet euthanasia and cat and dog abandonment.

This is a good moment to create pet food which is more environmentally friendly and ethical. I want to see insect based cat food on the shelves, please.

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