We love animals as much as you do. That’s why feeding our pets at the expense of other animals presents such a conundrum.

We know that nutrients essential for cats and dogs to survive are available from non-animal sources, so why is meat the main ingredient in the majority of commercial pet foods?

The answer is wrapped up in a macroeconomic system designed to keep the animal agriculture industry afloat. The simple way to explain it is this:

Pet foods are made from both 4-D meat (animals that are dead, dying, diseased or disabled), and the leftover bits—referred to on pet food labels as “meat by-products”—of slaughtered farm animals. These parts include the snouts, udders, lungs, feet, organs, ears and other parts that humans don’t want to consume.

The farms that produce most of the animal meat consumed by humans are actually not “farms” at all—at least not in the traditional sense. They operate more like factories, mass producing animal products such as meat and dairy.

These places are called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), but have earned the name factory farms for their combination of agriculture and industry.

CAFOS are not inherently profitable, despite the growing consumer demand for animal meat. That’s because humans prefer to only eat a small portion of the animal—for instance, the breast or thigh of a chicken, but not its feet or neck. So for the cost the CAFO incurs for raising a chicken, it only receives a portion back when it sells the breast for human consumption.

Approximately 50% of what’s left of the dead animal is deemed inedible— including bones, fat, blood, feathers and internal organs. 

On top of that, there are a number of animals deemed unworthy of human consumption—these are the 4-D animals, as mentioned above.

That’s where pet food comes in. Commercial pet food is a much-needed outlet for the inedible leftovers of animal slaughter. Of all the rendered animal products on the slaughterhouse floor, approximately 31% is sold to the pet food industry, and the largest share of chicken and non-cattle rendered proteins go toward dog and cat foods.

From our perspective, there is not a single good reason to support this cruel, inhumane and socially irresponsible industry.

Sadly, however, with every purchase of most commercial cat and dog food, supporting the practice of factory farming is exactly what we do.