June 7, 2023


pets keep it coming

California company sells cat food with mouse meat in it

5 min read

When Tom Radcliffe owned three Carmel-location pet retailers, consumers would usually complain about how finicky their cats ended up. “They’d say, ‘My cat doesn’t like tuna, my cat does not like rooster,’” claimed Radcliffe. “I imagined, ‘Why never they make cat food items out of mice?’ Cats try to eat mice. Request Tom and Jerry.”

Now, just after promoting his merchants and enlisting some specialist aid – like friends’ cats and animal nutritionists with Ph.D.s – Radcliffe is generating cat foods out of mice. In the process, he catapulted himself for the duration of a shaky pandemic economy to the forefront of what seems to be a burgeoning small business chance. And his canned item, Mouser, has just become obtainable all around the Bay Location.

A thirty day period following its business start, Mouser is for sale in pet and feed shops in California, Arizona and Nevada, and Radcliffe expects to extend to Oregon, Washington and Idaho as early as future month.

CAMPBELL, CA – APRIL 21: A mouse is photographed on a can of Mouser cat foods at the Pets and Far more store on Thursday, April 21, 2022, in Campbell, Calif. Mouser, a new cat food stuff is made up of mouse meat paired with either duck, rabbit, rooster or turkey. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Team) 

At Pets and Extra in Campbell, a single of quite a few Bay Region merchants that have just begun carrying Mouser, supervisor Erin Lee said consumers have reacted to the merchandise with surprise – and curiosity. “They pick up a can or two,” Lee mentioned. “Right now it is additional of a novelty, but I really do not believe that is a poor factor. Their cats like it.”

Radcliffe, 55, begun constructing his self-funded enterprise just just before the pandemic and has had to navigate laws and nutritional requirements, alongside with distribution and provide chain concerns. “I really feel like a mouse in a maze,” he said.

The 4 variations of Mouser are Discipline Hunter, with chicken top the components Forest Hunter, with turkey leading Pond Hunter, with duck major and Brush Hunter, with rabbit main. While Radcliffe thinks the mouse meat has pretty broad appeal among the cats, individuals may have to serve diverse flavors of Mouser to their animals to determine people they like best, he stated.

The amount of mouse in every can is a trade mystery, Radcliffe reported. But he included that mice are “ridiculously pricey,” with the meat costing about 10 situations a lot more than chicken, turkey, duck or rabbit. Since the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration classifies mouse together with other meats as a product that does not need pre-acceptance to enter the sector, Radcliffe’s regulatory journey included conference state criteria overseen by the Association of American Feed Manage Officers representing regional, state and federal organizations.

He does not use lab-study mice, but purchases from specialty producers breeding the rodents for reasons this kind of as feeding pet snakes and injured owls at wildlife rehabilitation facilities.

To build the recipes, Radcliffe started mixing elements at residence. “I designed take a look at batches and shared them with friends’ cats,” he explained. “To no one’s surprise, I uncovered that cats seriously like the taste of mice.” Animal-diet consultants, and the employees at the Chicago cannery the place Mouser is now built, helped him ideal the recipes, Radcliffe mentioned.

At Aptos Feed & Pet Provide just south of Santa Cruz, Mouser is beginning to come to be a hit among prospects searching for canned foods that picky cats like, explained proprietor Damian Delezene. “The palatability aspect is large,” he mentioned. Delezene rings up just one or two Mouser buyers a day, and the amount is increasing, he explained. “They’re declaring the cats like it.”

In the store’s canned cat foods aisle, Alan Stocklmeir was procuring for his girlfriend’s a few cats, who “for some reason” had determined not to eat their frequent meals. Three flavors of Mouser were sandwiched between cans of Taste of the Wild’s trout-and-salmon and AvoDerm’s hen-with-avocado-oil. Stocklmeir, 74, picked up a can of Mouser’s Pond Hunter. “I’m likely to try just one of these and see how it goes,” he said.

Wally the cat eats Mouser cat food in Pacific Grove, CA on Wednesday April 20, 2022. The cat food stuff features mouse meat. (David Royal/ Distinctive to Bay Space News Team) 

Retail price ranges for the 5.5-ounce cans of Mouser range. Animals and A lot more expenses $2.39. At Aptos Feed & Offer, it’s $1.99, which is triple the price tag of Friskies at a huge box keep but even now puts the model in the ordinary vary for premium-priced canned cat meals, Delezene mentioned.

“In the business, we have talked about it for many years: Why don’t they have gopher, rat, mouse, lizard tails — all the factors that cats try to eat?” Delezene said.

Radcliffe observed that the pet food stuff market “isn’t accustomed to doing the job with mice.” He had the variety of mice he works by using analyzed in a lab for pathogens, and he visited the canning facility to observe the producing method, which consists of heating canned pet food items less than force to about 250 levels Fahrenheit to ensure basic safety. “This has all been quite vetted and investigated,” Radcliffe explained.

Right after identifying the cannery that could mix and can the cat meals, Radcliffe cleared a key hurdle when he secured a distributor willing to get a likelihood on Mouser. But pandemic-related difficulties continue to plague his cat foods organization, which he named Muridae for the relatives of smaller mammals that features mice. “For a when there was a trouble getting cans,” he explained. Now the canning process has strike a slowdown mainly because desire for pet foods skyrocketed after thousands and thousands of locked-down people introduced in animal organization to temper their isolation.

Radcliffe does not surface to confront recent competitiveness in the mouse-meat cat food items business, but that could adjust soon with the potential current market debut of Frankenmouse possibilities. A firm co-founded by a Stanford College microbiologist – called Mainly because Animals – plans to release lab-grown meat meals for pets this yr. The startup’s Harmless Hunt Mouse Cookies for Cats, manufactured with “cultured mouse,” are currently available for preorder.