I Think Therefore I Rant: Pet Peeves

Every year pet food looks more and more like human food. The packaging is becoming more similar and so are the contents. There’s a variety of cat food with broth that (at least in the commercial I saw) looks a lot like a bowl of soup a human being might consume. I can buy canned cat food with a lid that removes itself, even though I enjoy no such luxury when I buy canned tuna for myself.

I understand the impulse to make pet food look less disgusting. This way the people feeding the animals aren’t nauseated by the task. But there are a few products I take issue with. They don’t just make snacks for dogs and cats; they make appetizers too. Appetizers! I’m just waiting for the day when I’ll be expected to cook for my pets or offer them a beverage other than water. I suspect energy drinks for dogs are just around the corner.

Didn’t we all finally agree that the cat with a bowl of milk cliché has lived all of its nine lives? Isn’t it now widely known and accepted that cats are lactose intolerant? Then why is one brand of cat food making a cheddar cheese variety? Whose cat goes crazy for cheese? My husband once had a cat that loved cantaloupe, so I suppose anything is possible, but I’m skeptical of the notion that cats are clamoring for cheese.

What I think is happening here is that pet food companies are trying to appeal to human tastes. They know that we have so anthropomorphized our animals that we’ll readily assume they want what we want or need what we need. Never mind that cats are lactose intolerant. People love cheese, so let’s put it in cat food! Some humans are trying to be healthy. Let’s get them feeling guilty about not feeding their dogs enough vegetables (even though their wild and ancestral counterparts aren’t rooting around for carrots and peas). Fluffy and Fido should also have organic options. And let’s have low calorie offerings, because if the people are dieting, then their animals must be.

If our pets are fat, we’re to blame. Why are perfectly healthy dogs riding around in strollers? Who decided these dogs needed or wanted to be pushed around? Just because the thought of walking down the block is enough to leave some people feeling pre-exhausted, doesn’t mean their canine companions can’t handle it. I’m confident that even the smallest of dogs can out-walk the average human on any ordinary outing. If a three-legged dog can run and fetch and keep up with her four-legged friends, then Lord Furrybottom can make it to the grocery store on his own steam.

So please remove your healthy dog from the stroller, baby carrier, or whatever other contraption we used to reserve for human infants and let your dog be a dog like a dog is supposed to be—paws on the ground, nose sniffing some other dog’s butt, marking territory, and loving you unconditionally.