TIME Research

Your Pet Food Probably Isn’t Made of What You Think

Cat paws with kibble
Getty Images

Bad news for pets with refined palates

A new study published Tuesday night shows many pet food brands contain unspecified animal parts that aren’t listed on labels.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham and published in the journal Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, looked at 17 popular wet pet foods for both dogs and cats in U.K. supermarkets. They found that 14 of those brands contained cow, chicken and pig DNA—but none of the brands listed the animals explicitly on the label.

Of the seven products that displayed the phrase “with beef,” only two had more cow DNA in them than combined DNA of chicken and pigs.

That might come as a shock to consumers, the researchers say, but by leaving certain animal parts off the label, the products weren’t breaking any U.K. rules.

“Besides the customer not being able readily make an informed choice on the pet food product due to incomplete disclosure of ingredients (allowed by legislation), there could be the added complication of pet food allergies where a dog or cat could have adverse reactions to certain undeclared animal proteins in a product,” says study author Kin-Chow Chang, a professor of veterinary molecular medicine at University of Nottingham.

Since the items in the study were purchased in the U.K., the findings don’t necessarily apply directly to American pet food since. But the pet foods studied are international brands, and by looking through regulation and labeling requirements for pet food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), what consumers may think is a full beef product, for example, could also have meat from other animals and still be abiding by proper U.S. regulation.

The FDA does not require pet food to have pre-market approval, but says pet food should be safe to eat, have no harmful substances and be “truthfully” labeled.

According to an FDA spokesperson, the FDA has its own pet food regulation, but individual states can also enforce their own labeling guidelines and may have adopted regulations suggested by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Under these regulations, “meat” that comes from cows, pigs, sheep, goats or any combination of these species can simply be called “meat” on pet food labels. Meat from horses or other species of mammals must be labeled to indicate the species of animal from which the meat comes (e.g. horsemeat or kangaroo meat). The term “poultry” can mean any mixture of species like chicken or duck.

You can determine a lot about what might be in pet food by how it is labeled. For instance, if a pet food product is called “Beef for Dogs,” then 95% of the product must be beef. However, if a pet food product names an ingredient (like beef) in it’s title, but the ingredient makes up less than 95% of the product (but at least 25%), then the name of the product must have a qualifying descriptive term added to it, such as “Dinner,” “Platter,” “Entree,” “Nuggets” or “Formula.”

The FDA gives the following example: “In the example “Beef Dinner for Dogs” only one-quarter of the product must be beef, and beef would most likely be the third or fourth ingredient on the ingredient list.”

The researchers say their findings underline the need for better transparency among the pet food industry in order to help consumers make more informed choices about what they are buying for their pets.

TIME animals

Science Has Found Out What Music Your Cat Should Be Chilling to While Being Neutered

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Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, AC/DC is not it

During surgical operations, cats aren’t huge fans of adult contemporary ballads or fist-pumping rocks anthems. In fact, research has found that felines much prefer the lush sound of classical music when going under the knife.

In an experiment detailed this week in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon studied how 12 female pet cats responded to different genres of music, while undergoing neutering.

To gauge the animals’ responses, the clinicians recorded their respiratory rates and pupil diameters, which are an indication of their depth of anesthesia.

During the experiment, the cats were fitted with headphones and then exposed to two minutes of silence — as a control — before listening to portions of Barber’s “Adagio for Strings (Opus 11),” Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”

“The results showed that the cats were in a more relaxed state (as determined by their lower values for respiratory rate and pupil diameter) under the influence of classical music, with the pop music producing intermediate values,” reports Science Daily.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, listening to AC/DC while being spayed induced “a more stressful situation.”

[Science Daily]

TIME animals

See Firefighters Resuscitate Unconscious Cats

Clackamas Fire District 1

After a blaze, they saved two cats with feline-fitted oxygen masks

These firefighters are rescuing cats—not from trees, but from smoke inhalation.

After extinguishing a blaze in Oregon City, Ore. on Monday, rescue workers discovered two unconscious cats on the second floor of the house, Clackamas Fire District 1 says in a press release.

The firefighters brought the cats outside and treated them with special pet resuscitation equipment—plastic, cone-shaped oxygen masks fitted to the animals’ size that funnel air to their lungs.

Both cats revived and were taken to the vet by the homeowner’s son.

The fire department carries its pet equipment on all calls, and stocks masks for cats and dogs, officials say. And this isn’t the first time the department’s machines have added to a feline’s nine lives: it’s the second time in two months that the equipment has helped revive cats.

TIME animals

Quiz: Is Your Dog Crazy?

Take this quiz and find out

A dog’s brain and your brain have very similar chemistry and many similar structures. It stands to reason they work in more or less the same way—and break down the same way too. More and more, behavioral veterinarians are diagnosing problems as diverse as depression, anger, dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder in dogs. As with humans, treatment involves behavioral therapy and sometimes even drugs. But first you have to know if a problem exists at all. Here are some of the symptoms veterinarians consider in making a diagnosis.

 

TIME Art

Watch a Video of British Artist Banksy in Gaza

Several of Banksy's latest graffiti pieces are highlighted

British graffiti artist Banksy, known for his subversive street art, released a two-minute video from war-torn Gaza on his website Wednesday.

“Make this the year you discover a new destination,” it wryly says, in the style of a tourism video. But instead of sandy beaches, it offers viewers a glimpse of what a Gazan sees “well away from the tourist track”: tunnels, rubble and children gazing at some of the 18,000 homes destroyed last July in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

The video also spotlights several of Banksy’s latest graffiti pieces, including images of children swinging from a surveillance tower, a parent grieving over a child in a bombed-out setting, and a kitten donning a pink bow.

“A local man came up and said ‘Please — what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website — but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens,” Banksy writes.

“The cat found something to play with,” a Palestinian man says during the video. “What about our children?”

TIME animals

Helpful Cat Helps Dig Out Home Buried in Snow

Kind of ends up making more of a mess

Rudiger the cat is ready for battle. Its enemy? The four-foot snow drift blocking its front door.

It’s hard to tell whether Rudiger really likes the snow, or really, really hates its house. Either way the cat seems resolved to make a break for it before cabin fever sets in, and the lil kitty is forced to recreate The Shining (or maybe Alive) just to quash the monotony. With that specter hanging over its little head and no useful human help in sight, the cat is left alone to dig its way to freedom. No amount of icy paws or snow poised to avalanche into the foyer at any moment will stop its escape.

Despite the fact that Rudiger can’t use a snow shovel or even put mittens on its little paws, the intrepid feline spends the morning squaring off against the drift, patiently scratching away at the pile that towers over its head until sweet freedom is only a high jump away.

 

 

 

TIME Vietnam

Thousands of Rescued Cats May Have Just Been Buried Alive in Vietnam

Though illegal, cat-meat is in high demand in Vietnam as a delicacy

Thousands of cats that were seized by Vietnamese authorities appear to have been buried, and many seem to have been alive at the time.

“Three tons” of felines were found cramped together in bamboo crates in a truck after being smuggled into Vietnam from China to supply the country’s illegal cat-meat trade, Agence France-Presse reports.

They were impounded in the capital Hanoi, but authorities didn’t know what to do with the animals.

“Several of them had died, there was a terrible smell that could affect the environment and carried risks of future diseases,” said a police officer from Dong Da district. “Therefore, we culled them by burying them.”

Animal-protection groups had pleaded with the authorities to spare the cats, and had even started an online petition urging the Vietnamese authorities to “change their animal-handling policies.”

They believe many of the cats had still been alive when they were buried.

Though the consumption of cat meat, known locally as little tiger, is illegal in the Southeast Asian country, it is still considered a delicacy and is served in many restaurants.

[AFP]

TIME animals

This Man Turned His Home Into a Purr-fect Playground for Cats

He calls it the House of Nekko, meaning cat in Japanese

A builder from Goleta, Calif., has spent the past two decades converting his house into a kitty playground.

Peter Cohen spent tens of thousands of dollars building an elaborate home filled with colorful catwalks, hideouts, ramps and tunnels for his 15 rescue cats, the Huffington Post reports.

“I never intended to have so many,” he told the website Catster in an interview last year. “It is way too expensive and a tad too much work.”

Despite the expense, Cohen and his roommate are happy that they’ve built a safe and fun, and also very bright, feline haven.

“They give us unconditional love, and building the catwalks is one way of expressing my gratitude for that,” he said.

[Huffington Post]

TIME Pets

Petco Won’t Sell Chinese Dog and Cat Treats Any More

FDA is investigating whether treats led to canine deaths

Petco has announced it will remove dog and cat treats made in China from its stores, amid a U.S. investigation of the safety of animal snacks created in the country.

The Food and Drug Administration has received 4,800 complaints about pet illnesses related to jerky treats, including 1,000 complaints involving canine deaths, since 2007. Most of the complaints involve snacks made in China. The investigation is ongoing.

Petco becomes the first pet speciality retailer in the U.S. to pull the Chinese treats from its shelves. Its competitor PetSmart has said it will remove such treats from its stores by March, according to the Associated Press.

In lieu of China-made treats, Petco will continue to source treats from the U.S. and begin including new items from New Zealand, Australia and South America.

TIME Theater

Andrew Lloyd Webber Says Cats Will Return to Broadway

bows at the curtain call during the press night performance of "Cats" as Nicole Scherzinger joins the cast at the London Palladium on December 11, 2014 in London, England.
David M. Benett—Getty Images Nicole Scherzinger bows at the curtain call during the press night performance of "Cats" at the London Palladium on Dec. 11, 2014 in London.

And he wants to cast a Pussycat Dolls singer in the production's lead role

Andrew Lloyd Webber wasn’t pussyfooting around when he announced Monday that his hit musical Cats will return to Broadway.

Webber did not specify run dates or divulge further details about a New York production, though he did say he hopes to replicate the success of a recent revival of the musical in London’s West End, after a 10 year hiatus, the Guardian reports.

Webber added that he “greatly hoped” to introduce U.S. audiences to the newest performer in star role of Grizabellar, Nicole Scherzinger, a former singer for the Pussycat Dolls.

“She is what you might call an American theater babe,” Webber said of Scherzinger. “I do believe she is the most exciting musical theater artist I have found – well, that I have worked with – in very, very many years. I really do.”

Let the memory live again.

[Guardian]

 

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