32 thoughts on “Mental Health Break: Vintage Cat Food Ads

  1. I am not sure if the change is for the better. Cats DO need mostly protein. When I see the cat food with “grains and vegetables for a balanced diet” I just pass them by. I am looking for something with 90% meat or more. I think 100% fish probably isn’t good for them (mine alternate fish and chicken) but it is better then the grain/veggie filled foods that are the fad today.

  2. One of the things that struck me was the ad men’s idea that depicting a mama cat with her kittens was illustrative of good health. I can’t imagine seeing this used in cat food advertising now.

    1. That’s exactly what I thought – Mom and kittens in lost of the ads. We have come a long way

  3. That is true – spay and neuter really has come a long way! I was too busy reading the ads to notice the pictures!

  4. I grew up with a cat who was fed mostly boiled beef liver, raw lamb, veal and beef kidneys, and the occasional boiled ear of corn complete with the cob. When we had french toast, the cat always was given a bowl of the milk and egg mixture, including the egg whites. The first cat food I can remember is Puss ‘n Boots. The very strong fish odor and the bones in the can are unforgettable. If I remember correctly, this was rarely fed to her. Our cat had a poor diet according to the standards of today, yet she still lived to be 19 years old. The succeeding cats have all been fed commercial diets and none have lived as long.

      1. The cat brought home a corn cob from someone’s trash. After that, my mother always cooked an extra ear of corn for her. She ate it on a newspaper on the kitchen floor.

  5. This was all back in the day before commercial pet food manufacturers realized that cats needed dietary taurine. Fortunately, most of these cats also hunted to supplement their diet.

    I guess having cats be able to reproduce and do it well was a sign of superior health. Especially to the farmer who lost cats regularly to predators and such, so they needed to keep a steady supply for mousing purposes.

    1. It wasn’t nearly so cold-blooded. A cat with kittens or a dog with puppies was a symbol of *home.* That began to erode in the 80s, so far as I recall. This was also prior to the development of kitten and puppy foods as a separate thing, which I think dates to the mid to late 70s.

      The commercial food we fed back in the day was Kitty Queen, which started out as pretty much just cooked meat in a can and then gradually the ingredients list got longer and longer and longer ….

      1. My cat doesn’t want corn! He wants spinach. And hot peppers. Yeah – that last one surprised me – I drop one and before I can pick it up he eats it and looks at me wanting more.

      2. I’ve had a couple of cats who loved melons. Bumble, she’d about mug me for cantalope, and Lionel so loved watermelon he’d guard his slice vigilantly until the last shred was gone from the rind. But the kitties I live with now … they only get excited about simmering meat. Probably because often enough it’s for them, but it can get dangerous in the kitchen when I’m making stock.

      3. My last cat loved peaches. Specifically, he liked me to hold the peach pit for him after I was done so he could scavenge any lingering bits of flesh.

      4. I’ve got one right now who will stick her face in a bowl of flour and try to eat that. But she came from rough circumstances (emaciated, three little babies at her belly, dumped in the woods), so it may be something from her history. Or she may have been a pastry chef in a past life, who knows? But if I’m baking, I have to guard the flour bowl from her…

      5. Re:
        mikken / November 6, 2014 /
        I’ve got one right now who will stick her face in a bowl of flour and try to eat that.

        Video please!

      6. Ha! It’s not something that I encourage. But because she’s black, she comes up from the bowl looking like a coke fiend.

  6. When I was growing up, we fed our cats raw horsemeat. Pretty disgusting, but they were very healthy and lived a long life.

  7. I lived with a cat for 7 years after eating toxic pet food. She survived by had numerous medical issues her entire life. So, since my current cats are kibble addicts (I know, I’ve tried) I just wince when I open a bag of commercial kibble and hope that it won’t kill them.

    I remember my aunt feeding her cat raw horsemeat and it was gross, but that was one healthy kitty.

    1. My dad used to pick up all sorts of organ meats for our pets in addition to scrap meat and bones, and so hold that there’s about nothing so visually gross as spleen and lungs. Maybe brains … brains were shuddersome even in the days before they were zombie food.

      One of my kitties these days, she needs meds, and she’s impossible to pill. So I grind them up to put in her food … and she’ll only reliably eat them if they’re in one or another variety of Fancy Feast Classic. Funny, the ingredients lists on them fail to mention they include addictive substances. I suspect it’s also no coincidence that she’s getting portly.

      1. My aunt and uncle lived near my cousins who were butchers so their cat got kidney and heart every other week or so. The cat LOVED it. Recently one of the more expensive grocery stores started stocking beef hearts and I am tempted to get one to feed the cats. I figure with 7 of them, 4 of which were outdoor cats before I found them, at least one of them would like it.

    1. Lots of cats went blind or keeled over from heart failure due to lack of taurine back in the day. It wasn’t until they realized the need (when people started feeding cat food exclusively) that they started adding it to cat food. Because most cats were indoor/outdoor and able to hunt small prey, it took a while for the industry to realize the problem.

    1. That’s cause we now know that many cats are lactose intolerant. They’ll happily drink it, but then you have the results to clean up later. I am guessing people either didn’t realize what was causing the issues, or since cats being indoor only wasn’t really a thing they might never have noticed.

      1. It has sparked an industry of cat milk products. I have cat yogurt and cat pudding at home. They prefer the pudding to the yogurt.

    2. Milk for cats, yeah, not really a thing these days. Although don’t tell that to my one guy who loves heavy cream!

      And, of course, if you were raising kittens back in the day, you gave them milk. Now we have KMR and whatnot (and the goat’s milk recipes in a pinch). Not as good as mom’s milk, but better than cow’s milk.

  8. My fifth birthday present was a kitten – best present ever! He ate canned food, but he also got whole smelts on Fridays – sitting in a doll’s high chair, right at the dining room table with us – growling loudly at us if we moved a hand anywhere near his plate. On Mondays, he got spaghetti – just like Lady and Tramp, he sucked up a piece until it blipped him at the end, and washed his face after every piece. He hated my mom’s occasional meals of beef liver (as did we kids), so the dog got most of that, slipped to him under the table.

    My last cat was addicted to Nacho Cheese Doritos (as I used to be). She’d dive head-first into any bag she could, so you had to pick the bag up if you walked away from it, even just to grab the phone! And she’d try to carry off several chips when you reached for the bag, which got messy when they broke!

    1. I wonder if he was ever walking around the neighborhood, doing cat things, then suddenly was like “OMG it’s dinner time! I can’t be late for Spaghetti Monday!”

      1. ‘Snort!’ He enjoyed Mondays much more than I did – I’m not kidding when I say we had spaghetti every Monday for about twelve years that I remember, but as soon as I could start working (at age 15 1/2), I worked every Monday night just to get out of the house. I was in my 30s before I voluntarily ate spaghetti again!

  9. gosh. I remember the Puss n Boots. And yes, the smell and the actual bones in the can. I also remember it being the least expensive of all the canned cat foods on the shelves, as newer brands surfaced. I remember thinking , hmmm, must not be as good as the others. And to think , now I pay premium prices for grain free…

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