Tampa, FL

With a Cat Food Shortage Still Happening in Tampa, What's the Owner of a Picky Cat to Do? When Will it Be Over?

L. Cane

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Store shelves still empty of cat foodMick Haupt/Unsplash

There is good news and bad news about the supply chain in Tampa. The good news is that some everyday staples like creamer, coffee, cream cheese, and paper goods are at least somewhat back on shelves.

The bad news is that the wet type of cat food that many cats love is still hard to find locally if you're loyal to one store only.

Why Are Cat Food Shortages Still Happening?

Supply chain issues, trucking, warehouse, and aluminum shortages are all to blame. So is high demand (because more pets were adopted during COVID lockdowns.)

What You Can Do:

Go Outside of Your Usual Store if You Must:

I know that many of us greatly prefer to shop locally. And many of us have a store to which we are very loyal. But in this case, it may pay to look around or use pet super centers or online retailers to get as close as possible to the type of food your cat prefers.

If you're striking out at your local Publix, Winn Dixie, or Walmart, you may have better luck with Amazon, Chewy, or PetSmart.

Understand What Food Substitutions Aren't Ideal:

Many cat lovers have other pets, too. And this shortage seems particular to cat food. So understandably, cat owners want to know if they can try feeding dog food or another type of pet food to their cats.

According to WebMD, although it probably won't hurt your cat to give him a bite or two of dog or other pet food, cat food provides the nutrition that your cat needs. Specifically, cats have higher protein and fatty acid needs.

The site also cautions against regularly feeding your cat tuna, milk, or cooked foods with spices.

Food Substitutions that Work According to a Veterinarian:

Dr. Michele Paul of the Allentown Cat Clinic has posted a very helpful YouTube video where she discusses what you might substitute if you can't get your preferred brand of cat food. You can read a summary below, but here's that video.

To summarize, Dr. Paul says your first option is to try to substitute the type of food your pet likes with another brand. Look for the same flavors and textures.

For example, if your cat likes chicken in a gravy sauce, look for an available brand that offers more of the same.

Nutritionally Complete, but Temporary Solutions:

Instead of tuna, Dr. Paul suggests canned sardines, canned anchovies, and canned salmon.

Dry cat food that is softened with broth or water is also nutritionally sound, although Dr. Paul doesn't like its high carbohydrate content. But when moistened, many cats will accept it.

Additional Solutions that Temporarily Work if You Add a Cat Vitamin Supplement with Taurine:

If you want to use canned chicken, you should know that it's not nutritionally complete, and you'll need to add a cat multivitamin to provide complete nutrition.

You can also temporarily cook up ground beef or chicken for your cat, but again, this is not a permanent fix because it doesn't provide what your cat needs in the long term.

Dr. Paul suggests that any cat vitamin you're supplementing with contains at least 250 milligrams of taurine.

When Will The Cat Food Shortage End?:

We've all had to make do with shortages due to COVID, but we all want to know when our cats can at least eat what they are used to.

Robert Hooker, University of South Florida professor in the Muma College of Business, told the Tampa Bay Times that although he expects some shortages to last throughout the year, he expects the cat food shortage to last "a few more months."

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