Have you ever heard about insect-based cat food? Yes — that’s right, pet food made out of crawly critters! You would possibly think now we have entered the sci-fi realm, but many cultures have actually been chowing down on insect protein for hundreds of years.
In reality, in Mexico and China, amongst others, they’re considered a delicacy!
With insect-based protein for pets now being really useful by climate scientists, comfortable owners, and even some vets — is it really the better option for our animals and the environment too?
- Insects are naturally eaten by cats within the wild and caught by domestic cats
- Insect-based food uses much less land, water & natural resources than conventional meat sources, while also solving the problem of food waste by utilizing it as insect feed
- Short term studies on health, digestibility, and nutrition are positive
- Long run studies on these areas don’t exist as insect-based pet foods have only been in the marketplace since 2018
- As an unregulated industry, select an insect-based brand rigorously – on the lookout for protected processing and ‘human grade’ where possible
- Insect-based foods aren’t all the time essentially the most budget-friendly option
In this text, we’ll be doing a deep dive into the professionals and cons of insect-based cat food, taking a look at the eco-credentials, the science & safety, your best brand options, customer reviews & options for owners on a budget.
So let’s begin by understanding where insect-based cat food got here from.
The Origins of Insect-Based Pet Food
While in Western culture we’re more used to tucking right into a beefsteak than making a meal out of a mealworm, insects are literally already commonly utilized in much of our agricultural work.
For instance, poultry could be supplemented with black-soldier flies, common housefly larvae, and yellow mealworms to create a protein-filled snack for hens.
While we may initially feel our kitties won’t enjoy this crawly, creepy meal…they may disagree. Research has shown that each free-ranging wolves and feral cats eat insects freely within the wild, making up 1% of their food plan.
Insects also make up 1% of the animals brought home by British domestic cats with outdoor access. While these numbers aren’t huge, it shows that our furry friends across the pond don’t appear to have an aversion to those unconventional food sources.
And unconventional sources may be the long run. That’s since the production of dry pet food alone emits around 106 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, in response to a 2020 study.
There’s little question that pet food needs a more sustainable path to go down, and many house owners feel the pressure to make higher decisions for his or her pets and the broader world. Especially those with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
But for carnivorous pets, the choices can seem thin on the bottom. So it’s no surprise then that manufacturers of pet food have spotted a spot available in the market.
With vegan cat food still in debate, insect-based pet food has entered the market with a bang. Offering the promise of a healthy, high protein & eco-friendly option.
…So are insects the reply to sustainably-minded pet owners’ prayers?
Is Insect Cat Food Eco-Friendly?
Protix is a Dutch company and the biggest manufacturer of insect protein for pet products on the planet. They list the next advantages:
- Compared with beef, insect-based foods use 2% of the land and 4% of the water per kg of protein.
- Farmed insect protein is generally raised on human food waste, reducing each the emissions from and the actual food waste itself.
- 1 tonne of insects could be grown on 20 sq m of space in 14 days. They need no fertilizers or pesticides and produce very low emissions.
Lovebug, an insect-based cat food owned by supergroup Mars, believes insect food is the long run. Their ‘grubs are ate up surplus veggies and plants and sourced from a farm powered by 100% renewable electricity using ‘80% less land than beef.’
Are There Other Advantages to Insect-Based Cat Food?
- Allergies – Many brands claim their foods to be hypoallergenic, because insects, they are saying, carry recent and previously uneaten proteins — which minimizes the danger of an allergic response. Nevertheless, research suggests that this claim has yet to be proven.
- Ethical concerns – If you happen to are a vegan or vegetarian owner, you may find traditional cat food hard to stomach. Insects may be somewhat easier to simply accept, especially as many brands use grubs that don’t have any ‘nociceptors’ — which is what makes us feel pain.
Brands like Yora detail that their humane slaughter process includes using ‘cold water pipes that chill them all the way down to a hibernated state. So, they go to sleep when their body temperature is just too low.’
Is Insect Cat Food Protected?
While many are excited on the sustainability advantages of insect-based cat food, you may still personally feel hesitant to make the switch. Not until you understand more in regards to the dietary facets of those formulas.
In fact, our fluffy kitties’ nutrition is so essential. As ‘obligate carnivores’ meat is 100% mandatory of their food plan, as is the addition of essential nutrients:
- Vitamin A
These are vitamins and amino acids that cats cannot produce themselves, so we owners need to be certain they get them from their food plan.
So What Does Science Say? How Do These Insect-Based Foods Stack Up?
Short-Term Studies Are Positive
Insect-based, complete pet foods have been in the marketplace since 2018, and thus far no health risks have been reported. Research has shown that ‘short-term feeding tests didn’t elicit negative effects on visible health of dogs and cats.’
Digestibility Matches Up
The *ahem* fecal digestibility (sorry) for insect-based foods matched as much as the ranges shown by conventional protein sources in a 2020 study. In other words insect food will likely be palatable and digestible on your kitty.
Owners Are Positive
Research found that ’46 out of fifty pet owners gave positive feedback after learning they’d been feeding an insect-based food plan to their pet.’
Vets Are Interested
Simon Doherty, President of the British Veterinary Association, recently released an announcement around insect-based food:
‘When compounded into a whole food product, insect protein offers a more sensible alternative to owners who wish to offer a ‘livestock free food plan to their pets slightly than homemade vegetarian or vegan diets which regularly end in poor pet health & welfare – insect-based products are palatable, nutritious and bioavailable.’
The Long-Term Effect Is Unknown
As insect foods are still recent to the market, no long-term studies exist. This might be considered one of the largest sticking points for some owners, who may be fearful about any long-term health issues or uncomfortable side effects.
Insects Are Entirely Consumed
Unlike other livestock, insects are consumed whole. This implies we’d have to be paying very close attention to how insects are farmed and processed to be certain they’re protected.
Following on from the above, insect farming is essentially unregulated in the mean time since it’s just so recent! Which means there are a couple of areas pet owners might want to think about when assessing an insect-based brand:
- Processing – How do brands ensure their factories tackle possible contamination within the production and processing of their insects?
- Human grade – Unlike other pet food protein sources, insects could be raised for ‘feed’ purposes only. Feed grade ingredients aren’t held to the identical safety standards as ‘human grade’ ingredients.
For pet owners considering an insect-based pet food or treat, it’s value asking if the insects they use are considered human grade?
Which Are the Best Insect-Based Cat Food Brands?
Let’s take a take a look at a number of the brands leading the insect-based charge:
- Lovebug™ – Lovebug™ cat food is made using black soldier fly larvae, in addition to several other essential nutrients and amino acids.
- This food also accommodates maize and wheat – so isn’t a grain-free option.
- The insects are fed a big selection of food industry by-products (that will otherwise go to waste), so it ticks the box for a circular and sustainable source of protein there.
- The packaging can be 100% recyclable and made out of paper, which could be put into your recycling bin.
- They claim their factory uses high animal welfare standards, nevertheless, they do say it’s a ‘feed’ manufacturer – so it is advisable to get more information there.
- Yora – As we noted earlier Yora actually uses the Danish farm Protix, which has a top-notch ethical and sustainable approach to their grub growing.
- Their feed is produced from the larvae from the black soldier fly.
- Packaging is fully recyclable wherever you recycle your carrier bags.
- Yora accommodates oats and corn, so it just isn’t grain-free.
- As a ‘feed’ supplier, you may want more details about how Protix processes its insects.
- Catit Nuna – Nuna is a mix of insect protein and sustainably sourced fish protein, so you possibly can reduce your impact on the environment without making a full switch.
- They claim their insects ‘are sustainably raised in Canada, the USA, and Europe, under clean and controlled circumstances.’
- Nuna accommodates millet – an ancient, gluten-free grain.
- Nuna accommodates no ‘low cost fillers’.
- Entoma – Entoma uses a mixture of insect protein, vegetables, fruits, and superfoods to make a superfood-packed food.
- A grain-free option, containing linseed and chickpeas.
- The recipe does contain duck fat, which may be a deal-breaker for vegans or vegetarian owners.
- The insect meat used is made out of mealworm and larvae from Hermetia Illucens flies.
- Their insects are bred on specialized farms and fed human waste (leftover cereal, fruit, and vegetables).
- Not much else is given away, so it is advisable to contact them with further questions!
The Wrap Up — Insect Based Cat Food
So what do we predict? Is Insect food the long run? I feel there’s something value considering here, needless to say.
The few brands we mentioned above are backed by vets and nutritionists on their web sites. Nevertheless, to seek out the perfect insect cat food on your kitty, remember to take the research concerns into consideration and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
And, after all, all the time seek the advice of your veterinarian before making any meal changes. There may be a reason why they think your cat can be higher suited to a conventional food plan, or they may find a way to guide you towards a brand they feel offers the perfect dietary option.
While the sustainable advantages of insect food are definitely exciting to us, you may be waiting some time for a budget-friendly insect cat food option. As a brand new sector, the associated fee of processing is high, so until this settles down you’ll likely be paying more for the privilege of feeding your kitty critters!
Time will tell as to how insect based foods affect our pet’s overall wellbeing, but with the present research looking promising – it appears to be a step in the fitting direction for the planet and our pets!
What do you’re thinking that? Tell us within the comments below 🙂