NEWS AND VIEWS (COMMENT): It’s good news and a step in the right direction in protecting the planet while providing our cat companions with high quality food in line with their specific dietary requirements. Although it looks odd and some cat owners will reject the idea, Nestlé is launching cat and dog food based on insect protein, millet and fava beans. The recipe mixes black soldier fly larva, chicken and fava beans. Another recipe is chicken, pig’s liver and plant protein from millet.
There is a definite trend away from conventional sources of cat food such as diseased livestock and roadkill (and even euthanised shelter animals) towards more sustainable sourcing, which in this instance is insects, with the objective of protecting the environment through reducing global warming emissions. Livestock farming damages the planet in various ways through intensive use of water and deforestation to create pastureland (two examples). The new products are described as a “complete nutritious alternatives to conventional dog and cat products, while taking care of the planet’s precious resources by diversifying the protein sources”.
The company plans to put them on sale next month in Switzerland. Nestlé is the umbrella company for Purina pet food which is sold in 70 countries. They aren’t the first and they won’t be the last to introduce pet food based on insects. You’ll see a lot more of this in the future and our cats will love it, I’m sure. I will certainly be buying it as soon as it becomes available.
The president of the British Veterinary Association, Simon Doherty, blogged last year that “insect protein offers a more sensible alternative to owners who want to offer a livestock-free diet to their pets. Sustainability is about making better use of the resources we have”.
It’s worth reminding ourselves that insects are on the menu for domestic cats. They are a normal prey item and it’s perfectly natural for them to eat insects. All the small wild cat species also eat insects which is why the domestic cat has inherited this trait. Insects are particularly high in protein. The levels of protein are the same or comparable to beef and milk. As a comparison, ground beef contains 26 g of protein per 100 g of meat while crickets contain 21 g of protein per 100 g of cricket. Powdered milk contains about 26 g of protein per 100 g of milk (The Scientist website).