Saturday, April 11, 2009

My cats wouldn't know an extra virgin

With journalism in a freefall, I’ve been forced to consider alternate careers. Number One on my list is being an heir, but there are so few openings in that field these days. Which means I’ll have to fall back on the obvious area of job growth, cat culinary consulting. I could save the pet foods companies a bundle of money by injecting a healthy does of reality into what they’re putting on the shelves for Whiskers and Snowball.

Right now, for instance, Purina is pushing a new line of Fancy Feast meals that are based on the cuisine of Tuscany. “Our modern take on Tuscan traditions,” explains the promotional copy. My five cats enjoy “Top Chef” as much as the next feline, but they could care less if the rice in their meal is long grain versus the bleached white variety. (Besides, isn’t farro the grain of Tuscany?) And don’t even bother asking them about olive-oil preferences. The Tuscan connection just doesn’t add anything for them. They’d wolf it down if the can label read, “Unidentified organs and other garbage pieces of animal flesh.”

Nor do my four dogs care whether they’re getting Campfire Trout Feast, Grammy’s Pot Pie, or Mediterranean Banquet (again with the olive oil!), some of the varieties we offer them. From careful study of what’s left in the bowls when they come back into the kitchen, I’ve learned that our pack tends to divide anything ingestible—nay, the whole world--into two large categories: Food, and non-food. They’ll eat either, but prefer the former, especially if it started out on a person’s plate.

As David Letterman once astutely remarked, his dogs spend the dog rooting through garbage and lapping water out of toilets. They could really care less that the food in their bowl contains no cereal filler.