Spot the pseudoscience: Cat food edition

Jennifer Raff —  July 5, 2014 — 34 Comments

I was shopping for food for my two cats and ran across a brand of kibble being marketed in an interesting way:




What’s wrong with this picture?

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Jennifer Raff


Scientist, fighter, reader. In pursuit of the extraordinary.

34 responses to Spot the pseudoscience: Cat food edition


    Natural evolutionary diet? I don’t think so. If there aren’t any live rodents or something in there, this isn’t what cats evolved to eat.


    Also, I’m not sure that picture looks very much like a cat.


    I don’t think this type of cat ate salmon. Wrong climate.


    I’m not sure I’d want cats to get accustomed to eating the LifeSource. Sounds like the plot of a bad sci fi movie.

    “Natural evolutionary diet,” seems reasonable enough, “based on how cats evolved, this is what is good for them to eat.”

    I see “Healthy * Holistic” in the corner. But the lay meaning of “holistic” is just a sciency sounding version of “wholesome.” That’s not pseudoscience, it’s just redundant.


    I’m not a evolutionary gaugernaut, but the picture looks like a Bobcat. Don’t think it’s related to the felines. Also what exactly is a evolutionary diet anyway?!


      Still not a good house cat, it is a wild animal. A long time ago when my father was stationed in the then Panama Canal Zone, some people tried to keep ocelots as pets. It never really went very well. Someone in my English class had one that tore up the house, and would get violent.


    Did I see “100% grain” and “Salmon recipe” on the same label?


    I’ve seen an ocelot at the zoo catch fish that was put in its enclosure. Plus I just checked Google U. and saw some pictures of bobcats trying to catch fish (possibly even salmon during spawning). Neither of those would make good house cats.

    I have avoided giving fish to cats since the vet that was unblocking the urinary track of my neutered male tabby again told it was thought to be a cause (1970s). Then in the 1980s another vet for next neutered male cat said that was no longer true since pet food makers had improved the cat food so it did not cause that kind of blockage (but he did get special “kidney” food in his teens). But I still avoid fish cat food. The about fifteen year old cats in this house get “weight control” kibble.


    I’m very afraid of Lifesource Bits. And what does gluten have to do with anything? Oh right, it’s the Source of All Evil.


      I think they advertise being grain-free because cats are obligate carnivores. They can’t properly metabolize proteins common in grains and such.


    Well, considering that the common house cat is a “feral species” in what we in this country view as “wilderness,” I’d say that’s a bit of “junk science marketing” that appeals to “romantic” notions of what would be healthy for them. Their presence in that landscape is hardly “natural.”


    And after some thought, it occurs to me there’s nothing much in terms of “natural evolution” in today’s domesticated cats.


    Wer dis one ’cause ya dint have nutin’ ta write ’bout?


    The house cat did not evolve from the bobcat. As an aside, I heard Blue is facing a lawsuit because other pet food companies had their food tested and found evidence of (obviously evil) grains.


    How many housecats catch salmon? And what the hell are “active nutrients”?


    Grain-free diet? That’s not natural. First, cats eat plants by their own choice, especially grasses. I never caught my cats carefully excluding the seeds when decimating my house plants. Second, cats eat herbivores, who are usually stuffed with plant matter including grains. The cats eat pretty much the whole prey animal, except maybe the bigger bones, so their diet includes both vegetable and meat even when eating other critters.
    But an all-meat diet not exactly what the manufacturer of this “natural” food is actually selling, though they may be implying it. They’re promising “no corn, wheat or soy” and following through. They’re promising “grain-free”, which is technically true, but they’re not actually promising or following through on being plant-free. The vegetable ingredients include: ‘Tapioca Starch, Pea Protein, Flaxseed, Pea Fiber, Potatoes, Alfalfa Meal, Potato Starch, Caramel, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots’. Technically, flax seed and alfalfa are seeds, not grains, but you’d have to pull out a botany textbook to tell me the difference.
    So, lots of marketing, but mainly in the implications and some made-up lingo. You need a patent lawyer and a chemist to translate what “LifeSource(R) Bits” means to average person, just like McDonald’s “RealBeef(tm)” does not mean you’re getting 100% meat or even pieces from a recognizable part of the cow. As far as “Active Nutrients”, that’s great, I guess… as opposed to what, “Inactive Nutrients”? Marketing crap.


      Cats are true carnivores. They generally are best sustained on an all meat diet. That being said, they will eat grasses or seeds when the sense an upset in their own chemistry but this is rarely done or needed on a daily basis.


    Blue seems to do this a lot. They tend to think that “evolutionary diets” (which isn’t seen at all in nature) are better for cats. Which is like saying that the CaveMan diet is better for humans, and I doubt anyone will agree that almost all fat and protein is in any way “healthy.”

    They use this slogan as if grain is completely horrible for cats and dogs, and that by using their over-priced petfoods, you are going to have a healthier, longer-lasting pet.


    Hilarious! Right after seeing this picture (of the cat food) I went out to buy some dog food and found its canine counterpart – with a very wolfy looking husky on the front. I almost bought it so that my husky can become more wolf-like – that’s what those evolutionary bits are for, right?


    Stack up some fancy words. The more – the better! It would work like charm they said. It is the owner of the cat that we aim to impress, not the cat itself!

    Reminds me of a tea package that was stuffed with words such as – natural, bio, ecological, organic, healthy, curing, remedies and I probably miss some.


    If you want to sell something in today’s world and make people believe that it is good then take the name of science.


    Wilderness brand for domestic felines? If you have a housecat, it ain’t in the wilderness!


    Natural evolutionary diet? Over the many, many generations, just as we’ve artificially selected cats for certain aesthetic traits, I’m sure we have–consciously or unconsciously–also selected various eating habits, none of which include eating a “Salmon recipe.”

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