I share my food with my cat, and I think it’s the right thing to do. I get a little tweaked when people tell me that they don’t give their pets “people food.” The only thing that I define as people food is processed, shelf-stable, fortified junk that people shouldn’t eat, anyway. All animals, including us, deserve to eat fresh, healthy food. Whether there is enough to go around or not is moot in my opinion, because the majority of us here in the States are stuffing ourselves while our dogs sit, quivering and drooling, staring at us lick the bacon fat and egg yolk off our plates, or, far worse, throwing away perfectly good scraps right in front of them.
Most people justify their choice to feed their pets only processed, shelf-stable, petrified, byproduct animal slurry compressed with corn, gluten, or other filler grains foreign to their digestive systems because they don’t want their pets to beg. Domestic animals must know their place, and that is by their food bowls, eating crunchy bits of tasteless and nutritionally devoid junk food. Why not every once in awhile put those meat scraps in the fridge and mix them in with your animal’s kibble when it’s time for them to eat? Take one forkful of tuna out of that can and put it in your pet’s dish when you’re making your own tuna melt.
Stop wondering why dogs and cats get fat and smelly and itchy and cancerous when they don’t have to, and start feeding them real food, even if only occasionally. Of course they want your food more than their own–because it’s actually food. All of us animals evolved eating what was available in our immediate environments, or what we could hunt down and kill. We grew stronger, smarter, and faster eating plants, roots, berries, eggs, meats. Every species diet is slightly to vastly different, but pet food is still a humanmade product. Even humanmade (processed) food made for us is killing us, and we have a multitude of choices, unlike our animals. We are becoming weaker, softer, and dumber than our predecessors because of our certainty that easier food is just better, and that’s simply not the case. Not for us, and not for our beloved animals.
Do I expect you to start preparing every meal for your pet, even if you don’t prepare the majority of your own meals? Hardly. I certainly don’t (though I feel guilty most days about that). But why not give your dog a carrot or some raw cabbage mixed in with her crunchies? Why not throw your cat some chicken or raw fish when you have it around? It’s not like you’re starving (and if you are, stop reading this blog right now and go dumpster diving ASAP).
With cats it’s a little more complicated, because often if they’ve been eating kibble all of their lives they don’t know what to do with anything else, even just another brand of kibble. So start small, and mix it in. Know for yourself that even if they don’t know it’s better for them (and of course tastes far better) that they will ultimately benefit from it. A commonly cited experiment is one in which cats were fed only cooked food, but the experiment had to end early because by the third generation none of the cats could successfully reproduce. There are flaws within the study (see Pottenger’s Cats) but it’s hard to deny that the vast majority of our housecats come from strays that had access to a rodent diet, and then (I HOPE) we neuter or spay them, anyway. There are books out there with recipes for nutritionally correct meals for both cats and dogs, but to keep it simple, just add a little meat to your carnivorous cat’s diet whenever you have some to spare, but avoid giving them fruit or veggies. Research what not to feed them and what’s good for them, and seek out multiple opinions.
Dogs are more suited to an omnivorous diet, but there are some things you shouldn’t share with them, like grapes (can cause renal failure), eggs, avocados, nuts, dairy products, et cetera, but just like humans, they need fresh vegetables and quality protein. If you want your animals to live long, active, and disease-free lives, treat them as you would yourself were you to be concerned with the same thing (and you should be). The dry and wet food you feed your pets should be grain-free whenever possible, i.e. no corn, wheat, barley, etc, as well as soy, byproduct (often simply cartilage, bone, lungs, spleen, even cancerous tumors, essentially all “meat” deemed unfit for human consumption), and brewer’s rice-free. Know that by choosing to feed your pet packaged food without these fillers that your pet will require less to eat overall (plus, as a side benefit, they will poop less since more of their food is usable), so the extra dollars that higher-quality food costs is an investment that immediately pays off as well as benefits your wallet long-term in fewer vet bills–though, of course, if you have your pet around a few more years you’ll have to feed them then, too…
Remember that we live in a nation of fat, malnourished human beings. This has happened because we have access to cheap, fast and easy food that is virtually empty of nutritional value. Our bodies are starving because they need nutrition and we are giving them unhealthy, rancid fats, sugars, grains, and processed food instead. Don’t fall into this trap, and don’t throw your animals into it even as you decide to save yourself.