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My two cats, Miso and Tofu, have frequently pawed and even gently nibbled at my face while I’ve been sleeping, presumably to check whether I’m actually dead and ready for consumption, so I have no doubt that in a pinch they’d team up to eat me. So you can imagine that I’m sitting uneasily with the news of a recent cat food shortage—this could very quickly become a life or death situation for me.
I recently switched my sweet feline angels over to wet food at the insistence of my vet, only to suddenly find grocery store shelves barren. While I tried to temporarily get them back on kibble, which is still in stock, they want nothing to do with it. They’ve tasted the nectar of the gods and they’re never going back. WCNC reports that canned pet food in particular is the latest casualty of supply chain issues, and all we can do is wait it out.
In the meantime, I reached out to my friend Meg Smith, a former vet technician, for tips on what to serve Miso and Tofu to stave off my untimely death.
What to feed your cat if you can’t find cat food
“Cats are obligate carnivores, which means what they really need is primarily meat,” Smith says. “If you can’t get your hands on actual cat food, boiled simple meats with grains and potatoes can help. Like a boiled chicken and rice situation with water; mush it up real good and that can tide a kitty over!”
For those who may be struggling financially, Smith suggests calling your local vet for information on food pantries that also stock pet food options.
What not to feed your cat
My typical go-to when I haven’t yet made a run to the grocery store is canned tuna (which I always seem to have on hand), and while this is okay for cats in small doses, Smith says to avoid using tuna as a full food replacement because high mercury levels are not good for them.
Even though it may seem like a similar product to us, dog food is also not a sufficient stand-in for cat food. While it’s not toxic to cats, the American Kennel Club says that it is missing key nutrients that cats need to stay healthy.
Along with avoiding typical no-go foods for cats—Fetch by WedMD warns against onions, garlic, grapes, chocolate, raw meat, raw eggs, dairy, alcohol, and caffeine, and we’ve already shared some typical holiday foods that pets should avoid—it’s best not to take a chance on any packaged human foods. “Unfortunately a lot of people additives are toxic to pets, especially artificial sweeteners like xylitol,” Smith says.
Sticking to simple, chemical-free and spice-free meats is the easiest way to go for now, and hopefully those cat-friendly canned shreds will be back on shelves before we know it. Until then, I’m sleeping with one eye open, just in case.