‘Reservation for two, name’s Fido’

I am eating macaroni and cheese. My cat is eating wild salmon stuffed with crabmeat. What is wrong with this picture? Why is my cat eating like an “Iron Chef” judge while I’m eating chum? This morning the cat had lobster in white wine sauce. I had sugar-free instant oatmeal with skim milk. Remember when pets begged for our table scraps? Now, we should be begging for theirs.

Sure, I know that they just call it “Wild Salmon Stuffed with Crabmeat” when it’s really just stuff they squeegeed up from the fish-factory floor that wasn’t good enough to become cafeteria fishsticks. But still, you’d think the people who package food for humans could at least do the same thing.

Why call it a “hot dog with catsup” when they could call it “spiced pork pate with tomato sauce and herbs?” Is that a grilled cheese sandwich you’re eating or a Panini Formaggio? Buffalo wings? Or succulent chicken in cayenne marinade with blue cheese dressing? We know what sounds better, but do our pets?

Some pet food companies are going holistic, organic and vegetarian. Is my cat getting enough Omega-3 oil? Is your dog eating free-range chicken or stringy, old-fashioned caged chickens? Is my cat getting enough fiber? Sure. Sue’s house plants are full of it, and that’s what she eats when we’re not around. Is your pet getting enough treats? Is my cat getting huge? Yes. She’s starting to look like a cat-shaped hot air balloon. The vet wants me to put her on a diet. “Maybe I could send her to a spa,” I said. He gave me the names a few close by.



“I don’t think my cat’s healthcare plan covers that.” I told him.

“Who is your provider?”

“Me.”

Have you noticed the most crowded aisle in the supermarket is not the baby food aisle, soda or produce aisles, it’s the pet food aisle? You can barely get through. It’s “Cart Wars” and the woman in front of me is “Darth Shopper.” She’s trying to decide whether her dog would prefer beef stroganoff with added riboflavin or Coq au vin kibbles with added vitamin D. It’s a tough decision. Her dog, she tells me, is a picky eater. Sure. Right now, while she’s at the store, the dog is digging up the remains of a dead woodchuck and deciding what tastes better – its decomposing left leg or its rotting head. “I know,” he thinks, “Let me drag it home and let my owner decide.”

Of course, I don’t tell her that, because I do the same thing. We all know that pet food is made to appeal to the pet owner, not the pet. After all, I’m the one that keeps buying the salmon and crab for my cat because, unconsciously, I’m probably thinking how much more the cat will like me than if I bought her something called rancid fish remnants – as if she would know the difference.

Where would my 10-pound cat ever taste salmon if I didn’t buy it for her? Could a 10-pound cat that is scared of the water ever catch a 60-pound salmon? Could a cat win a fight with a lobster? That has Michael Vick written all over it. A lot of dog food says it is made from pure beef. But where would a Chihuahua ever taste pure beef if we didn’t give it to him?

If cats spent money at the supermarket instead of humans, the pet food aisle would be full of little cans of “Chopped Colorful Songbirds” and “Raw Mouse Parts with Fur,” stuff we well-meaning humans would never buy. How long will it be before pets get celebrity gourmet food? How long before Emeril or Rachel Ray start making pet food? We humans balk sometimes at paying high prices for food that we can prepare less expensively at home. If the stuff we make at home is good enough for us, why isn’t it good enough for our pets? Here’s some macaroni and cheese, little buddy.

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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