Does cat food contain dead cats? The answer is yes, it does. There was a time when the subject was never discussed. Many years ago I wrote about it but now you can go online and ask the question in the title and you’ll quickly see that dead dogs and cats make pet food. It seems to have been accepted. Are things changing? To me it is revolting and it creates obvious cat and dog health and welfare problems.
If you render down euthanized cats to be used as a cat food ingredient you legitimize from a commercial standpoint the killing of cats in shelters. It presents a barrier to creating a no-kill shelter. And it opens the door for irresponsible cat ownership because the process provides an outlet for unwanted cats.
Ohio State Law
Ohio State, through their legislature, admit that dead cats and dogs are used in commercially prepared pet food. As Susan Thrixton of truthaboutpetfood.com states: “In other words, Ohio law acknowledges that dead pets are rendered.”
A member of the Ohio state legislature Laura Lanese has introduced a bill, House Bill No 560, which would change the regulations governing pet food. It would deem pet food adulterated if:
“It contains any animal remains from an animal that has been euthanized by the use of any drug injected intravenously or through another non-vascular route, or..
It contains any dog or cat remains, regardless of how the dog or cat died or was killed.”
Ohio is the first state to address this problematic, distasteful and immoral aspect of pet food production.
Conflict of Interest
A further thought on the concept of rendering down euthanized cats as an ingredient for cat food is that it creates a conflict of interest. If a dead cat, killed in a shelter, has a commercial value it must undermine the value of that cat as a living, sentient being. In fact, it could well be argued that an unwanted, dead shelter cat is worth more than a living one. The standard random bred domestic cat is only worth about US$35. Unwanted domestic cats in shelters are worth less than that. I don’t know what shelters get for providing pet food manufacturers with the carcasses of dead cats. Perhaps they get no money at all but I’d be surprised if that is the case.
The important point is that a conflict of interest is presented to cat shelter management. The idea that you can render down unwanted cats in this way also undermines the value of all cats and the relationship between pet cats and their human owners.
Sodium Pentobarbital (Pentobarbital)
Pentobarbital is not destroyed during rendering. This drug is used to euthanize cats. The drug has been found in pet food. The only plausible reason is that these pet foods contain the remains of domestic and feral cats and dogs.
The process of using domestic cats as ingredients for pet food has taken place under the radar of public view in my opinion. There is no doubt in my mind that this has been deliberate because it is distasteful.
LA Times stated in 2002, ‘Los Angeles city and county shelters send more than 120,000 dead dogs and cats to be rendered in a typical year.’ I understand that LA have dramatically reduced the number of shelter euthanized cats and dogs over the intervening years. They have pursued a no-kill policy.