NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
By ALMA J. BUELVA
THE Philippine market is sorely lacking its very own locally produced cat food, but that could change if the first set of trials spearheaded by a doctoral student succeeds.
Five cat food flavors, all using squash as major ingredient, are undergoing market tests and could be the start of a local brand that can help farmers and give cat owners an alternative to imported cat food products.
Hazel Alfon, who is taking up Doctor in Business Administration from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, developed her own kitty fare for her research project in functional strategy and business ethics.
A cat lover herself, she wanted to cook up something inexpensive but nutritious for cats and at the same time create an opportunity for squash growers to sell more of their crop.
“What prompted me to do the study is the surplus of squash during harvest time. Lugi yung farmers, halos ipamigay na yung kalabasa nila. (Farmers lose...almost giving their squash away).
With both the cats' and farmers' welfare in mind, Alfon set about baking her first handmade dry kibble. She soon, however, switched to wet cat food as she believes cats need it more to supplement their water intake.
A licensed chemist, Alfon told MetroPets that she did extensive research on the kinds of food that are good and bad for cats. She also took samples of her squash-based cat food to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for analysis. In addition, she consulted with veterinarians to make sure her cat food is safe. Later on, she used social media networks to invite cat owners to try her products for free.
“My cat food are all-natural, human grade and with no salt and chemical pre-treatment,” Alfon said.
Alfon added that she uses from 80 to 90 percent fish, beef, chicken breast, liver or gizzard. The rest are vegetables, particularly squash.
The results are the following variants:
* Salmon with carrots, green beans and kalabasa (squash)
* Ox tripe with chicken liver and kalabasa
* Tuna with kalabasa
* Chicken with kalabasa
* Beef with carrots, green peas and kalabasa
Sealed silver pouches, each containing 85 grams of any of the five flavors, were shipped to market testers who volunteered to feed it to their cats for seven days. Alfon said the most common feedback she received pertains to cats' poop becoming less stinky or even stink-free!
MetroPets' resident cat reviewers tested Alfon's homemade cat food and while they showed indifference at first, they soon acquired the taste and feel for it. The top hits were the squash with chicken and squash with beef. Used to the texture of paté, the cats set aside morsels of ox tripe. They ate the fish variants with no complain but also with less gusto.
Meanwhile, Alfon told MetroPets that she has started work on another cat food specifically for lactating cats.
If all goes well with her cat food, Alfon said she plans to turn it into a business and share her revenues with animals shelters.
THE Pet Expo 2015 organized by Pet Express during the first weekend of August successfully gathered hundreds of pet owners, dog and cat lovers, animal groups plus makers and sellers of pet products under one roof. Held at one of the halls inside the SMX in Mall of Asia, the show is proof of the tremendous growth the pet industry in the Philippines is experiencing right now.
The show was a good venue for pet companies to interact closer with pet owners. Lots of products from pet foods to toys and accessories were sold up to 20 percent off.
Engaging activities for pets and their owners were also held in partnership with some of the leading pet food companies. There was also a dog yoga session, bomb sniffing demonstrations and even a presentation of a beach resort and hotel of their unique accommodations for pets.
Here are some of the first day photos from the show.
* New Amazon boxes especially made for cats