If just the thought gives you the creepy-crawlies, the good news is that cat food containing black soldier fly larvae probably won't be showing up on your pet supply retailer's shelves anytime soon.
EnviroFlight, the company that's producing the ingredient, began construction of its plant just last month. It expects production to reach capacity in the first quarter of next year, and the first taste testers will probably be poultry and farmed fish. That gives you some time to get used to the idea of your cat eating fly larvae that came from a factory. Eeeuuu...
In Pet Food, It's All About Sustainability
Look at it this way. While our planet could probably sustain an infinite number of bugs, that's not true of the animals who provide food for us and our cats and dogs.
There was a time when pet food was inherently sustainable because it used the leftovers from human meat processing. But many cat food buyers have different standards these days. They want their cats' food to be of the same quality as theirs. To meet the growing demand for "organic" and "natural" food, the pet food industry purchases over 16.5 billion pounds of meat, poultry, seafood and grains to feed our animal companions.
The jury -- or in this case, the Association of American Feed Control Officials -- is still out on the nutritional value of insects as an ingredient in cat food. But writing for his PetMD blog, veterinarian Ken Tudor suggests crickets could become a nutritious ingredient for cat food.
Eighty percent of a cricket’s body is edible compared to only 55 percent of the body of poultry and pork and 40 percent of the body of cattle, Tudor says. And "insects, particularly meal worms, provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids that are comparable to the amounts found in meat and fish."
Could be. But I could be a very hard sell when it comes to feeding my obligate carnivores food that uses black fly larvae or crickets as a protein source. While I'm willing to do my part for sustainability by not eating or wearing any animal products at all, my cats shouldn't have to pay with their health for human greed.
And then there's the yuck factor. Feeding our cats food that contains factory-produced black fly larvae might be too much of a stretch for many of us. It certainly would be for me. If my cats want to eat flies, they can catch them themselves. They're actually very good at that. And catching a fly and then eating it is a lot more rewarding than chowing down on insects that came out of a can.