Mars Petcare, makers of legendary cat foods Whiskas and Sheba (which Jake assures me are both equally delicious), recently announced that some types of their catfoods in certain European countries will now bear the mark of the Marine Stewardship Council.
|Good news, cats! Now you can stop eating songbirds!|
Cat collage courtesy of someone with too much time on their hands, via Wikimedia Commons
Mars has learned first-hand the marketing importance of sustainable sourcing, or at least keeping an appearance thereof - just one year ago, they were being raked over the coals for their "Blue Fin Tuna Flavor" line of cat food. While it seems that no blue fin tuna was actually to be found in this line, the optics were still incredibly, incredibly bad. Not quite as bad as Burger King's ill-fated "Flavors of the IUCN Red List" menu of '08, of course, but still pretty bad. (Note to Burger King's lawyers - that was a joke).
So, is the MSC label on cat food a good development, or egregious greenwashing of an inherently unsustainable use of marine resources? I'd argue that it's both, at the same time. I would argue that catching millions of tons of wild forage fish to feed domestic cats is an indefensibly terrible use of our oceans that would have no place in a human society that had a truly 'sustainable' relationship with its host ecosystems.
However, I'm also aware that in Canada alone there are roughly 1 million old ladies who own 30+ cats each, and that the only way those ladies are giving up their cats is if they are pried from their cold, dead hands (and indeed, that's how it usually works out).
So, cats aren't going away anytime soon. Assuming that we wish to keep feeding them, then it would be best to source their feed from better sources rather than worse, I guess...which would mean that the MSC logo on cat food is better than nothing at all...
And now you'll have to forgive me, because that's as positive as I can force myself to be about this.