Is my cat hooked on pet treats?

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Poppy and her Dreamies (David Barnett)

Poppy is usually a relatively stand-offish cat. She doesn’t sit on laps, she hates to be picked as much as the purpose of hysteria. She’s going to generally repair me with a curious, pensive gaze, as if making an attempt to work out what I’m truly for. After which she remembers, and insinuates herself lithely between my ankles, and finds her voice, the high-pitched, insistent miaow she solely ever deploys when she needs one factor: Dreamies.

For the good thing about non-cat individuals, Dreamies are packets of biscuity treats. Poppy is an absolute fiend for them. When anybody in the home relents and locations a small clutch of them close to the cats’ meals bowls within the kitchen, she is going to – on first look, relatively sweetly – look spherical and wait till our different cat Maurice comes working in. However I believe it isn’t simply feline comradeship; she’s merely seeing which of the 2 piles may probably be barely larger so she will be able to elbow Maurice out of the way in which for it.

You will have seen the TV adverts for Dreamies, wherein a cat proprietor shakes the bag of treats and the pets come working. This isn’t an exaggeration. A Dreamie-addicted cat can’t solely hear the rustling of a Dreamie pack from three streets away, they will distinguish between that and the – to the untutored human ear – similar crinkling of, say, a packet of microwave rice or a bag of Maltesers.

Was it simply our cats? I took to Twitter to seek out out, and was deluged with replies. “Sure. To the purpose the place he will not even chew them, simply swallows them complete and screams for the following one. Our Dreamies bag is roofed in holes from the place he is received his claws into it and has held on for expensive life,” stated Kat Wheeler. “Sure! I’ve to simply contact the packet and our cat will seem from nowhere,” replied Jessica Gale. “Sure. The rustle of the packet is sufficient to summon them again from wherever they’re hanging out past the backyard,” stated Jemima Lang. And so it went on, with multiple individuals referring to Dreamies as “cat crack” – their pets simply went loopy for them.

Story continues

Dreamies are available in a number of flavours, hen, turkey, duck, fish, beef, even cheese. They just lately launched a catnip flavour, and reader, I’ve not witnessed such scenes since I noticed the Chemical Brothers within the Glastonbury Dance Tent in 1999. After sampling the wares, each cats tear-arsed round the home like extras in a Roadrunner cartoon earlier than collapsing, their eyes like hubcaps, up in opposition to the radiators for a nine-hour chill-out session.

Cat crack? The brand was launched six years ago (David Barnett)

Cat crack? The model was launched six years in the past (David Barnett)

So… what’s in Dreamies? And are they actually addictive? In response to the again of the packet: “Surprisingly, we don’t use a secret ingredient or magic to make them this scrumptious.” The elements listing on the Delicious Salmon flavour contains, “cereals, oils and fat, derivatives of vegetable origin, meat and animal derivatives, fish and fish derivatives (together with 4 per cent salmon), minerals, vegetable protein extracts.”

“Dreamies merchandise don’t comprise any addictive substances,” says Laurence Hooper, the UK portfolio director at Mars Petcare UK, which manufactures Dreamies. He provides: “The crew at Dreamies has labored laborious to pinpoint the textures and flavours that cats love. Our merchandise are available in a variety of tempting flavours and are created with accountable treating in thoughts. They’re top quality and scrumptious, with added nutritional vitamins and minerals, no synthetic flavours and fewer than two energy per deal with.”

In lockdown individuals have been spending extra time with their animals and meaning the pets are simply crying at us extra for treats throughout the day

I had been hoping to talk to somebody at Mars Petcare UK immediately, and after a number of days of emailing their PR division, I used to be allowed to ship in some questions. The solutions went by a number of rounds of approval at government stage, I perceive, and earlier than I acquired them again I used to be requested what tone I’d be taking within the piece. I replied that it might be pretty mild in tone – as my items usually are – however factual, as properly. That may have knowledgeable the tone of the replies. So in case you are in any manner averse to cat house owners being referred to all through as “pet dad and mom”, and the animals themselves as “furry pals”, then apologies prematurely.

In case you’re a cat proprietor of some classic, you would possibly assume that Dreamies and different cat treats are a comparatively latest phenomenon, and also you’d be proper. Dreamies of their present incarnation have been relaunched with their vibrant packets and cartoon cat branding about six years in the past.

In response to a bit within the meals business journal, The Grocer, in January 2016, the cat treats market was far behind dog treats by way of gross sales. Quoting a Kantar survey from the earlier summer time, The Grocer reported that the cat treats sector – together with all drinks, treats and non main-food items – was value round £157m and fewer than half of cat house owners purchased treats for his or her pets in each 12 week interval.

Early Dreamies’ adverts show cats crazy enough to break through walls for the pet treats (Dreamies)

Early Dreamies’ adverts present cats loopy sufficient to interrupt by partitions for the pet treats (Dreamies)

That had modified dramatically by the point The Grocer did a pet meals evaluation particular in September this yr. Cat deal with gross sales alone had leapt by £20 million in a single yr – an increase of 13.4 per cent yr on yr. So prior to now six years we’ve been feeding our cats plenty of treats, and plenty of that impetus got here from the Dreamies rebranding, and the planting of the seed that our cats deserve treats. Was the relaunch of Dreamies a selected try and convey the cat treats market as much as the extent of dog treats gross sales?

Hooper says: “At Dreamies, we all know that there’s nothing fairly like a shared second together with your cat and our purpose has all the time been to create a brighter world for cats and cat house owners. Within the UK, cat treats are purchased by fewer households than dog treats, primarily as a result of cat house owners don’t take into consideration the advantages of treating their cats as a lot as dog house owners do. So, in 2016 we determined it was time to start out conversations about the advantages of treating cats and encourage little moments of enjoyable between pet dad and mom and their cats.

“Our merchandise supply pet dad and mom enjoyable and accountable methods to create moments of connection and pleasure with their cats. Since then, the cat care and treats class has continued to develop and we’ve seen this speed up extra throughout the Covid pandemic, when extra time spent with pets led to extra treating moments.”

Cat treat sales have leapt by £20m this year (Dreamies)

Cat deal with gross sales have leapt by £20m this yr (Dreamies)

Which accounts for the rise in gross sales. With extra of us working from residence over the previous yr and a half, we’ve been spending extra time with our cats. Or ought to that be, spending extra time in service to our cats.

“Cats are unbelievably efficient at annoying us into submission,” says vet and TV pet knowledgeable Dr Scott Miller, who usually seems on ITV’s This Morning. “My cats will miaow their heads off to get what they need and sadly we’re all fallible human beings and we give in to them. So cats are glorious at coaching us to offer them what they need.

“Treats are a manner for us to ingratiate ourselves with our cats. They’re the boss of the home in any case they usually see us as employees mainly, so that they’re more than pleased for the employees to get them one thing tasty to eat.

So mainly, you determined, pathetic creature, you may have been conditioned by each your cat and the pet meals business to purchase your cat’s love

“In lockdown individuals have been spending extra time with their animals and meaning the pets are simply crying at us extra for treats throughout the day when in any other case they could have been ready for somebody to come back residence from work. And that turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy as a result of in the event you’re working at residence and possibly on a Zoom name or one thing the cat shall be crying at you and also you’ll give them some treats to cease them bugging you so you’ll be able to think about work.”

There’s a sure mythology constructed up round cats, which Dr Scott touches on there. Canines are our trustworthy companions, man’s greatest pal, who will fortunately chase a ball all day and curl up at your toes like an enormous, tender lump of fluff. Cats have the cool disdain of Mae West and the silent, acerbic wit of Dorothy Parker, and permit us to stay with them beneath sufferance. Now we have been taught to be pleased about their consideration. Fairly often in our home there shall be some plaintive, more and more determined “Dreamies for cuddles” bargaining occurring. Poppy and Maurice all the time get Dreamies. No person ever will get a cuddle.

“Pet lovers know that cats might be fussy in the case of exhibiting their affection, however the energy of Dreamies is that they’re so tasty that cats can’t wait to benefit from the subsequent one,” says Hooper in response to my query about how profitable the Dreamies relaunch was thought-about. “This fact led to an interesting statement, that by shaking the pack pet dad and mom found they may win over feline affections. The irresistibility of Dreamies helped our pet dad and mom create deeper connections with their furry pals and this has led to Dreamies turning into a staple in properties throughout the UK.

“At Dreamies we’re pleased with the main position we’ve had in working with pet dad and mom to shine a highlight on the advantages of treating cats and serving to them create moments of connection. Our goal has all the time been to share the story of cat house owners and we’ve continued to make use of revolutionary strategies to convey these to life, corresponding to by social media platforms which have allowed pet dad and mom to submit their very own moments the place ‘All It Takes Is A Shake’.”

Dreamies come in several flavours, chicken, turkey, duck, fish, beef, even cheese (Dreamies)

Dreamies are available in a number of flavours, hen, turkey, duck, fish, beef, even cheese (Dreamies)

So mainly, you determined, pathetic creature, you may have been conditioned by your cat and the pet meals business to purchase your cat’s love. That All It Takes Is A Shake slogan is maybe one of many truest, most trustworthy promoting campaigns ever made. However don’t assume your cat is dancing to your tune if you shake that bag of Dreamies they usually come working; you might be lastly fulfilling your solely helpful objective of the day.

In order a advertising marketing campaign, Dreamies is an especially profitable and worthwhile one, and the model’s relaunch six years in the past has revitalised and vastly boosted what was a reasonably moribund market. Nonetheless, are they any good on your cat?

The again of the Dreamies packet suggests a cat get not more than 20 particular person treats in a day, and to scale back the cat’s foremost meals accordingly. The dietary data says that at 408 kcals per 100g, a bag of Dreamies accommodates 244 energy. A mean cat’s calorie consumption ought to be about 200 energy a day, so 20 Dreamies could be a few fifth of that… in the event you persist with the really helpful quantity.

Dreamies additionally comprise 22 per cent protein, 9 per cent inorganic matter, and 22 per cent fats. It’s the final bit that worries Dr Miller in the case of us treating our cats.

So whereas there isn’t any secret ingredient or magic in Dreamies, there would possibly properly be one thing within the ‘cat crack’ jokes… the crack on this case being fats. And whereas it could be pure for cats to be drawn to fatty meals, it’s not doing them any good

“The issue with Dreamies is that they’re actually excessive in fats. Cats are what we name obligate carnivores [very high meat content, do not normally digest vegetables well] and because of this have a better stage of fats content material of their diets than dogs do as a result of dogs usually tend to eat a mix of plant and animal supplies.

“The cat’s capability to devour fats and course of and metabolise it’s quicker than that of a dog, so they’re drawn to it and cats love ice cream, and butter and all this stuff which have a excessive fats content material, so they’re very drawn to Dreamies.”

Aha, so whereas there isn’t any secret ingredient or magic in Dreamies, there would possibly properly be one thing within the “cat crack” jokes… the crack on this case being fats. And whereas it could be pure for cats to be drawn to fatty meals, it’s not doing them any good.

Dr Scott says: “Now we have large points with obese animals within the UK and it by no means appears to get a lot better. Treats are undoubtedly going to drive that.”

So what might be finished? Nicely, moderation in all issues, says Anna Ewers Clark, veterinary analysis and requirements lead at nationwide pet charity Blue Cross. She says: “Going by a day with none treats in any respect is a problem for anybody, and treats might be actually nice on your cat to get that bit of pleasure, a little bit of leisure. You need to use them as a part of a sport and even as a part of a cat’s coaching – you should utilize them to offer your cat a little bit of train, in the precise manner as they’ll forage for treats and work tougher for them than they could do for his or her regular meals.

Dreamies even come in Catnip flavour (Dreamies)

Dreamies even are available in Catnip flavour (Dreamies)

“Nevertheless it’s all the time a case of fine issues moderately. If an individual solely eats treats and chocolate biscuits all day lengthy it can’t solely trigger them to placed on weight however we’re additionally not getting the stability of vitamins that we want and that’s true for cats as properly. Actually, in the event you’ve received a cat that’s combating its weight then treats is perhaps one thing it’s a must to reduce down on, as a result of in the event that they’re consuming too many treats they gained’t be getting the right stability of vitamins.”

That’s true for Poppy particularly. She’s going to fortunately stroll previous a bowl of meals and sit by them, miaowing loudly and staring on the Dreamies packets on the worktop. And we shouldn’t be giving in so simply.

“If the cat is encouraging its proprietor to feed them treats, they usually’re consuming increasingly treats then they’re much less prone to eat their meals, which is a whole balanced eating regimen,” says Scott. “On this case it’s type of like McDonald’s for cats… it’s high-quality to have it once in a while, however in case you are consuming it on a regular basis on the expense of balanced meals, then that’s going to be an issue.

“A great rule of thumb is that lots of people consider their cats as furry youngsters, however would you let your precise baby ask you for a Mars bar each 5 seconds and also you’d reply, positive, have one, have one other. You’d say, you’ll be able to have one, and that’s it for at the moment.

“Cats work on us by annoying us into submission however as pet dad and mom we have to take the view that’s this the precise factor or is that this the simple factor, and I believe fairly clearly with cat treats it’s the second.”

Mars Petcare didn’t a lot fill a spot out there with the massively profitable relaunch of Dreamies, they stunning a lot created a brand new market, and the pet meals cabinets are stuffed with treats from many corporations. In a neat little bit of synergetic branding, Mars Petcare additionally appealed on to the LGBTQ+ cat-owning market with specially-branded packs and charitable donations.

Hooper says: “We’re additionally proud that in 2021, we have been in a position to make use of the model’s reputation to drive consciousness and help for the psychological well being of the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ+) neighborhood. The intersection between pet possession among the many LGBTQ+ neighborhood and the optimistic affect animals have on psychological well being makes Dreamies a great model to step into this area and drive significant change. We partnered with the LGBT Basis, making a monetary contribution to help the charity’s helpline all yr and proudly displayed the rainbow on our packaging and in communication, together with the helpline quantity. The response we acquired was overwhelmingly optimistic.”

Previous to 2016, our cats didn’t actually know what they have been lacking with treats. Now, they’re a elementary a part of the pet proprietor’s life. It feels as if that is an evolution in feline improvement; cats should now have the love of Dreamies imprinted on their genetic code. The genie is out of the bottle, the cat is out of the bag. Now we have tried to purchase our cats’ affections, and we’ll by no means be set freed from this contract.

And as I write this, Poppy is looking at me with an depth that implies just one factor: if I don’t know what she needs, then I have to be fairly as silly as she thinks I’m. Please excuse me, I need to get again to my main duties as cat employees.

Learn Extra

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