One of the best things about attending Global Pet Expo is having the opportunity to talk with pet food and product manufacturers directly. A whole lot can be discovered when having an in-person conversation about both new and existing products.
In the natural pet sector, nearly every representative from every brand was excited to not only discuss their foods and treats, but were happy to answer questions. And I did ask questions – everything from ingredient sourcing and quality to production practices.
This year I was pleasantly surprised to find more freeze-dried raw food, frozen raw food and new treat options for cats than ever before. I was also really excited to find more novel proteins offered for cats. Historically, cats have been treated as an afterthought by too many pet food and treat companies. In some ways it does make sense. Most dogs eat a whole lot more than most cats. That means more money spent on food. Cha-ching.
It seems that devoted cat parents have finally joined devoted dog parents in demanding better quality, bio-appropriate foods. The natural pet food companies have listened.
I was blown away by the commitment Vital Essentials has made to cats. They have created the most extensive line of foods and treats for cats than any other company out there. Options include: Frozen Raw available in 8-ounce chubs, 16 two-ounce mini patties, and 3.5-pound family size entrees; Freeze-Dried Raw available in one-pound bags of mini nibs (great for transitioning kibble eaters to raw), one-pound bags of mini patties, and 6-ounce bags of toppers (can be served as a complete meal or added to other food). All of these options are available in chicken, turkey, duck and rabbit.
The company has also created a line of freeze dried treats for cats available in chicken breast, chicken giblets, chicken hearts, ahi tuna, duck liver, wild Alaskan salmon, minnows, and rabbit bites.
All of Vital Essentials foods and treats contain single sourced protein, USA farm-raised, pasture-fed, free-run and wild-caught ingredients, sourced, and made and packaged in a USDA certified pet food facility. Every product is grain-free, gluten-free, and free from added hormones, antibiotics, fillers and artificial ingredients.
This has been one of my favorite brands of food for cats for many years. In addition to recommending Primal to many of my clients, my own cats enjoy their frozen raw and freeze-dried options. So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that they are introducing two new varieties to their extensive feline line – freeze-dried rabbit and freeze-dried duck as well as frozen raw duck. All are scheduled to be in stores in early May.
How can I not be drawn to a company bold enough to name their treats Kitty Krak? Made by the same folks that produce Kitty Kaviar, Kitty Krak is a crunchy pellet shaped treat made from bonito. I love the tag line – Feline addictive! In a good way! Seriously, cats really do love it. These treats are just starting to appear in natural pet food stores and online.
Special Mention: RAWZ
Although RAWZ did not take part in Global Pet Expo this year, I want to include them in this blog because the owners, the Scott family, are incredible people. If the name sounds familiar to you, it is because they used to own Old Mother Hubbard and Wellness. With those brands sold and in the rearview mirror, the Scotts chose to launch a new brand of food. You will not find RAWZ in big box stores or online – the food is sold exclusively at independent pet foods stores nationwide. 100% of the profits from RAWZ go to three main causes: providing service dogs, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. You can read all about their story on Rawznaturalpetfood.com.
For cats, the company’s freeze-dried foods, though labeled for dogs, is bio-appropriate. Varieties include lamb, beef and chicken.
RAWZ also offers tasty food toppers for cats that make a perfect complement to any meal. Although the toppers are not a complete meal, they can be enticing to a cat suffering from inappetence or used to help cats transition from lower quality food to freeze-dried, fresh/frozen raw, or even homemade foods.
There are two lines of toppers, which come in pouches -Tapa and Sa-Shi - each with six offering, all made with only four ingredients.
The Tapa line includes: chicken & pumpkin, chicken & duck, chicken & beef, chicken & cheese, tuna & shrimp, salmon & beef. The Sa-Shi line includes: tuna & sardines, tuna & pumpkin, tuna & sea bream, tuna & mackerel, tuna & salmon.
My cats tried the Sa-Shi tuna & sardines, made from bonito tuna, fish broth, sardines and tapioca starch. They devoured it.
As I often mention, fish is not an optimal diet for cats. However, once or twice a week or to help transition cats to a real food diet is perfectly fine.