What is Purina thinking?

“The Scream” Edvard Munch

As a professional writer, I try to keep a lid on any really strong opinions and equally strong language. But a google alert I received just screams WTF!

Purina has just come out with a new Purina Be Happy Dog and Cat Food Brand.

Based on ingredients such as ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, chicken by-product meal, meat and bone meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), animal liver flavor, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, turkey by-product meal, and salt (this is for the cat version), the food is “inspired by the enduring happiness pets share with owners.”

What’s pathetic is that the company has brainwashed 100,000 Facebook fans into believing that a food with these ingredients “celebrates happiness as a way of seeing the world.”

Excuse me, what happened to nutrition? What happened to a species-appropriate diet?

This is even more ironic since it comes on the heels of the American Veterinarian Medical Association’s condemnation of raw diets. It’s well known that Purina and its big bucks, in conjunction with the Delta Society, lobbied for the proposal, which was subsequently supported by the American Animal Hospital Association.

A happy cat is a well-nourished, healthy cat. The Happy Cat dry formula claims to “support strong bones and teeth, healthy vision, and healthy skin and coat.” Must I reiterate the problems associated with dry cat food?

The big pet food manufacturers already offer a so many different varieties of dry food, it’s enough to make your head spin. Royal Canin lists 19 dry varieties alone (at recent count). I haven’t had the patience to count Purina’s and the junk associated with Hill’s is the stuff of legends.

Amazingly they all have the same ugly corn-based ingredients shuffled around. They’d obviously prefer to put their marketing creativity into this:

The Be Happy fans create e-cards, customize their own T-shirts and upload photos from the Be Happy mobile photo app available in the iTunes and Google Play stores. The app enables people to customize photos with visual elements like dog ears, hearts, borders, the Be Happy characters and thought bubbles for happy messages.

Now I understand a bit more why the chicken-jerky-made-in China-feeding public still hasn’t got the message. They’re too busy playing games.

The good news is that my rage has been somewhat tempered by a post from Dr. Laurie Coger, “Update on AVMA’s Raw Food Policy” as part of her The Wholistic Vet’s Blog. I haven’t heard of Dr. Coger before now, but it’s comforting to hear the voice of another veterinarian amid the corporate whitewashing that is so much a part of business today.


About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

33 Responses to What is Purina thinking?

  1. Vinny Grette says:

    It must be about the money

  2. Amen, sistah! I have a feeling I’ll be saying pretty much the same thing you are for the rest of my life about how marketing in the pet food industry is the bane of my existence. People fall for the crap and think kibble cleans teeth and is a great thing to feed their cats. I’d like to see some counterpoint ads with cats on their last days, dying from cancer or showing big fat cats and saying..yes, this is my cat on dry food…ugh…when will people learn? They love the convenience at the cost of their cats living lousy lives…not thriving and certainly NOT being HAPPY.

  3. Bonnie says:

    We’ve been involved with the traditional human food industry for years now and find some of the same questions come up. Monstanto is trying to get GMOs into food and not have them be labeled because of money. Remember Pink Slime? What about RBST in milk (and there was a huge outcry because dairies who used it didn’t want dairies who didn’t to label their milk RBST free because people wanted to know). Oh and don’t get me started on the fact that raw milk is ILLEGAL in a lot of states or that some states require you own the cow (leading to cow shares) and even in states like WA where you can buy raw milk on the shelves, grocers can’t insurance if they sell it because of health risks (while our raw milk dairies are often told they need to shut down, no real contamination has ever been found in the milk), making it harder to purchase. The irony is that stores always had a sign in big red letters stating that this was RAW MILK and could be hazardous AND the price was roughly twice what it was for organic milk–like I’d buy that by mistake?

    Pet food is just the final frontier–and it’s interesting that there are people who never think about their own food that want the best for their pets, which makes it even more important to get education out there on the importance of real food, that is diet appropriate for the species.

    • Susan Cole says:

      I think its a matter of each persons opinion and preference on what they buy their animals. I personally have tried my 4 very healthy ( yes They have regular vet visits) on BE Happy and they LOVED it my cat crawled into the bucket to eat it also. It didnt hurt them in anyway before I returned to their normal food when went went home from a friends.

      • Reread the article and look at the ingredients. While your cats may be fine now, long-term feeding of a dry food high in grains and carbs can result in obesity, diabetes, and urinary problems. Cats are obligate carnivores. As such, they require a meat-based diet. Of course they loved the food — who doesn’t love potato chips and cheese doodles?

  4. animalartist says:

    I’d rather pay for a quality, species-appropriate diet than veterinary care for cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, dental issues and other illnesses. I’d rather feed them well and love them in good health than support them through preventable illness. Perhaps this is why the AVMA and AAHA sided with Purina?

  5. Lisa says:

    Sickening, just sickening. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from Purina! They should be called Pure Crap.

    • Lisa, Bernadette, Bonnie, Robin: We all just have to keep spreading the word. We know the stuff is crap, but so many people still look at you in amazement when talk about the inferior ingredients in their favorite brands.

  6. here2havefun says:

    It’s the same logic that has these same companies feeding cows fed with animal products in them or creating corn ethanol by using fossil fuels for the energy and transportation of same. It’s been my experience that business ethic practices stop immediately after the creation of companies vision and values statements – the rest is all an illusion!

    • So true. At the expense of us, our pets, and our children. Thanks for your comments.

      • here2havefun says:

        That’s the real tragedy, not being able to protect those who rely upon us to make well informed decisions to ensure their well being.

        Almost all prepackaged consumables have obscene amounts of preservatives or soy based products that could prove detrimental to one’s health. Then there are hazardous waste and pharmaceuticals products that contaminate our water. Individuals who collect rain water can be fined in some areas for collecting a natural resource. Who knows what the long term effects of GMO foods already out in environment?

        Most people are simply just too busy making ends meet to even educate themselves on the everyday dangers that surround all of us. Not much has changed since the days of ancient Rome, “bread and circuses” still rule the masses. And so ends my rant of the day!

  7. Donna Anne says:

    The sad thing is, whenever I try to educate people on cat food, they think I am a lunatic or a fanatic. They are so brainwashed they can’t wrap their heads around the truth. I can’t convince even ONE cat loving family member that they are killing their cats with commercial cat food. Brainwashed– there is no other way to say it.

    • Hi Donna Anne,
      Yes, I know how frustrating it can be. I met someone tonight who said her mother’s cat weighed 25 pounds. I gave her the “kibble is crap” lecture and my card and hoped for the best. On Facebook people were commenting on a Purina commercial and someone mentioned how much faith they had in Purina products. I and others commented that they should put as much money into quality ingredients as into marketing. It’s a matter of convincing one person at a time.

  8. kris says:

    i have been a cat “owner”, all my life……….. 46yrs. I dont think dry food is the issue here!!!!
    My cat is acting all wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tuarine,, I believe to be the energy factor??? She’s (my cat) heart rate is up beyond the “norm”!!! Im not positive, yet, isn’t that what the main ingredient is in “Monster” adult energy drinks??????????????????????

  9. LoveOurPetsForLIfe says:

    Unfortunately I believe that it was this cat food that took the life of my cat. I bought it on a whim and she ate one bowl and she was unable, since that day, to have a bowel movement. She passed 4 days later (last night) in my arms. My precious cat. I loved her so much.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. Please have the veterinarian do a necropsy. It shouldn’t be too late.

      • LoveOurPetsForLIfe says:

        Thank you. I buried her this morning after passing away at 4am. She ate one bowl of the food 4 days ago in the morning and she wouldn’t eat it again in the evening. She finally attempted her first bowel moment 4 days later and after crying out twice, she passed right then as I was helping her to stand. Wish I could stop crying about it but I feel so responsible. So so responsible.

  10. Lora says:

    We started feeding this to our two cats last week and it just occur ed to us that it may be the cause of very loose stools that we’ve been seeing in the littler box for the last few days. We’re going to stop feeding them this food and hope the bowel movements are normal again.

    • Good idea, Lora. The “end result” is always important. The better the food, the less poop there should be. In addition, by feeding a variety of foods from Day 1, you avoid the upsets that might occur from changing food after a long time.
      Thanks for writing!

  11. Anna Cochran says:

    What is a good pet food to feed your cat? My cat is almost 11yrs old and I want to feed her good food.

    • Anne,
      First of all, if you haven’t ditched the dry, do it NOW. Check out the various articles here on my blog along with various links on my Facebook page. My Resource page here is also loaded with nutritional information. Simply, look for a variety of grain-free canned foods; operative word is variety. Pet food manufacturers want to sell you brand loyalty. By feeding a variety of food, you avoid finickiness and problems that may be associated with single brands. Here’s a list of recommended food from the National Cat Care Blog.

  12. Kathleen says:

    I stumbled across your site when I was looking to see “how bad” some cat food was to give my 1yr old baby. I’m SO happy to have found your site. I’m going to start reading now. I’m a converted “Dog Only” person and have so much love for this 1yr old kitty. She really put her paw in my heart and I want to make sure she has good nutrition. THANKS for all this information!

    • Hi Kathleen,
      I’m glad you found ExclusivelyCats and are interested in keeping your kitty healthy. There’s lots of nutritional information on my Resources page. In addition, I include lots of nutritional links on my <a href="“>ExclusivelyCats Facebook page.
      Let me know if you have any questions.

  13. Seven Cats and counting says:

    My father firmly believed in Purina products. That’s all he would feed his cats. I, on the other hand, have a cat with irritable bowel/pancreatitis/small cell lymphoma and another with food allergies (corn, wheat, soy or a combination thereof). Changing diets has been a trial and error process and very expensive. But so is the medication I have to buy every month. I’m hoping my cats who are still healthy don’t experience any problems in their lives. To Loveourpetsforlife, my sincerest sympathy. We have gone to grain free, gluten free foods. My vet supports my decision.

  14. carlina says:

    Every dog is different. My dog will Not eat expensive brands of dog food such as Iams, Pure Balance,etc. She is a Miniture Pincher. So what am I to do but buy crap dog food,the only kind she will literally eat. Go figure. We can’t starve our furry companions. And how do we know what they really use anyways? Are we there watching ? So no matter what we need to feed our pets..our furry friends for life what they will eat instead of always worrying what the hell is in it. At that rate we may as well starve them. People food is Not option as dogs or cats can’t eat pork or certain foods. If they like a certain brand dog or cat food,and it agrees with them..Keep It!

  15. S. Howard says:

    My cats love happy cat and its one of the few brands they will eat. I mix it with healthier brands but they refuse them unless they are mixed with happy cat. It might not be the best quality on the market but trying to force an animal to eat $23 a bag foods is futile if they don’t like it. My animals are healthy and happy.

    • If you’re feeding dry food out of the bag, there are no healthier brands. Even inexpensive canned foods are cited as being better than dry food. My Resources page has lots of information on a species appropriate diet.

  16. Stevie George says:

    I was very upset when my local Walmart stopped carrying Be Happy products. My 3 cats which have weird eating habits actually started gaining weight and looking better. They started cleaning themselves again and looking healthier. My 2 older dogs actually put on weight and starting acting more alive then ever.
    All these people who are complaining about what the product is made from apparently don’t have pets or if they do they are spoiled and only get wet food. For a middle class working women I can’t afford to buy my babies wet food all the time. Please start carrying Be Happy products again.

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