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Leaving cats alone for 4 days

Leaving cats alone for 4 days

Leaving cats alone for 4 days is no time at all (Image: David Levene)

Cat food is a huge and growing business. According to industry group FSMA, £4.1 billion worth of the stuff is sold in the UK each year, and over half of us have at least one pet cat. But what goes in to make all that food?

“Cat food is a global commodity,” says Helen Brown, director of the Cats Protection charity. “It’s something that most people buy every day, and you can get it in supermarkets around the world. And the companies who produce it have to deal with a global demand.”

“Cat food is a global commodity”

That demand is driven by the fact that, despite cats being popular pets around the world, and many of us spending money on them, there are more stray cats than any other species of domestic pet. That’s something that seems a little strange, when it’s clearly good for cats to live outside, and many of the reasons they’re given are similar to the reasons many of us like to keep pigeons, chickens or other birds as pets: they’re great with kids, you don’t have to feed them, they’re independent and don’t take up much space.

Still, the number of stray and abandoned cats in the UK is more than four times higher than the number of dogs. The majority of the time, cats can be successfully rehomed. But we don’t know what really goes into all of those cat meals.

Cat’s whiskers (Image: Alamy)

“Cat’s whiskers” is how we like to think of it, though the actual contents are usually something more like “tuna, chicken and gravy”.

“The contents are the same across the country, because they’re mass produced and canned and sent around the country,” says the RSPCA’s head of campgns Caroline Paul.

This isn’t a new thing, Paul says. It’s been like this for years. “We’ve been on a massive drive to educate cat owners to bring cats in from the cold and the rn, and one of the things that people can do is to think about what they’re feeding their cats. It’s obviously vital to try and rehome a cat, but it’s also important to ensure that they’re eating high-quality food.”

As of May 2016, the cat’s whisker industry, made up of the big food companies (TinTin, Whiskas and K9) is under government review and a petition is gathering support to put pressure on it.

The RSPCA also has its own concerns about the products.

“There are some that we don’t support, like cats’ whiskers that look like meat balls and the like,” says Paul.

For many cats, though, and for the people who look after them, the benefits of feeding commercial cat food are clear. There’s less work involved, and the cats get more nourishment.

So what do the big companies say? They’re happy to point to the RSPCA’s own figures. The RSPCA has found:

• In 2015-16, one in seven cats in care at rescue centres had cat’s whiskers in their stomachs. The figure for 2017-18 hasn’t yet been published.

• One in eight cats in care at animal charities are missing their whiskers. The figures for 2017-18 haven’t yet been published.

• There are almost 30,000 cats in the UK with visible cat’s whiskers, and each of those animals eats a commercial diet for the majority of their lives.

• Every year about a million cats are euthanised in the UK after being surrendered or surrendered by owners. Many of them suffer with pnful medical problems as a result of their whiskers.

TinTin, a leading food manufacturer, offers a clear warning on its website: “If your cat’s whiskers do come out of his nose, it’s because he has an allergy to his kibble and needs a diet specifically designed to make him healthier and more able to care for his whiskers.”

And that’s where the problem lies for the cat whiskers industry, because many of the big companies don’t want to promote the products any more, and have removed them from their own websites.

So what can people who want to help the cats do?

There are four ways of helping cats:

· donate money to the Cat Welfare Trust

· buy from companies that have gone back to their own websites and are promoting the products agn

· use online retlers who are selling to cats

· buy from pet shops who will buy from companies promoting whiskers for cats

This article is part of a series on the plight of homeless cats in the UK and how people can help. The series starts on Tuesday 11 January and will look at cats in care, street cats, cats in the wild and homeless pets.

This article is part of a series on the plight of homeless cats in the UK and how people can help. The series starts on Tuesday 11 January and will look at cats in care, street cats, cats in the wild and homeless pets.

This article is part of a series on the plight of homeless cats in the UK and how people can help. The series starts on Tuesday 11 January and will look at cats in care, street cats, cats in the wild and homeless pets.