Interview with Susan Thixton of truthaboutpetfood.com
I cannot even remember how I stumbled upon truthaboutpetfood.com, but I immediately subscribed as it is something I am learning and want to have more knowledge about. I do believe had Rags been fed a healthier diet, he wouldn’t have gotten cancer. At the same time, though, he lived a long life, so maybe that’s good genes and love? Anyway, I asked Susan for an interview, as I was curious about a few things. Thank you, Susan, for a great interview.
1. From the domain name of your website, truthaboutpetfood.com, your site appears to focus on pet food. Was there something that happened to you personally that made you want to start this site?
Yes, there was. Twenty years ago I owned a kennel and dog obedience school in Louisville, Kentucky (The Pet School and Hotel). My business partner was my dog Samantha. Almost overnight I noticed a lump on Sam’s pelvic bone. With a trip to my vet I learned it was bone cancer and I had about two weeks to tell her good-bye. This dog was only 8 years old. She was my best friend. Of course I had questions for my vet, the biggest was how/why? My vet told me the most likely cause of the cancer was the chemical preservatives in her food. He told me that pet foods add chemical preservatives to extend the shelf life of pet foods. At the time, I didn’t fully understand; shelf life? I called the pet food manufacturer (which was the leading pet food in the US at the time, remains a world leader today). I asked them what the ‘shelf life’ was for this dog food. I’ll never forget what they told me. Exact words…”25 years”. Twenty five years! That means that dog food would remain ‘fresh’ for more than three times as long as my dog lived. That moment changed my life. From that day forward I’ve studied the pet food industry.
2. What cat food manufacturers do you trust and why?
I don’t recommend any pet food company; I don’t feel it is my position to tell anyone what to feed or what company I would trust. Selecting a pet food is a very personal decision to me. The best I can do is provide pet parents with education and allow everyone to make educated decisions.
3. What cat food varieties from those manufacturers would you recommend feeding to cats? Why?
Same as above. However, because cats have such a low thirst drive and drink little water, I do recommend a moist food in their diet.
4. What have you learned from having this website? Does the truth scare you?
No, the truth doesn’t scare me…but it certain breaks my heart at times. The truth is, pet food is allowed to violate federal food safety law (specifically the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act). And it seems no one of authority cares. It’s just heartbreaking. People trust what that label tells them; the truth can be far from what the label says or implies.
5. My cats like a canned food, Avoderm, but on the back of the box, it says “Made in Thailand” – which sorta freaks me out. Should it?
Well, that touches on the pet food selection being a personal decision. If it is a concern to you, then I suggest listening to your concerns and changing to a US made food. However, just because a food is ‘made’ in the US doesn’t mean all the ingredients are sourced from the US. Always call the manufacturer and ask them ‘What is the country of origin of all ingredients including vitamins and minerals?’ Many if not most vitamins and minerals used in pet foods are sourced from China.
6. Does it matter if the food is made from fish or beef or turkey?
No, as long as the pet has no allergies. One concern with a fish meal ingredient would be the preservative used (by the fish meal supplier). Pet food regulations do not require an ingredient added by a supplier to be listed on the pet food label; as example ethoxyquin added as a preservative to the fish meal – added by the fish meal supplier not the pet food manufacturer. Ethoxyquin is the preservative that killed my dog 20 years ago.
7. What is the best thing to feed your cat and why? Would you say home cooking or raw and if it’s raw what sort of raw?
There is no ‘best thing’ to feed all dogs and all cats. I prefer home cooking and all my animals (3 cats, 2 dogs) do very well on it. It just depends on the animal and the pet parents situation.
When you say that you home cook your food, what recipes do you follow?
Well…I follow recipes that myself and Dr. Cathy Alinovi developed. We are about to publish a pet food cookbook with recipes that use whole food ingredients providing all the nutrition. It’s very exciting. My pets have been the ‘test kitchen’ for almost a year now.
Do the cats get something different than the dogs?
Yes, the significant difference is cats need more meat in their diet.
Do you think it is more expensive to home cook?
No, actually I think it is less expensive to cook than purchasing commercial. It just takes a bit of time.
Or what did you mean by it depends on the pet parents situation?
The ‘situation’ can vary in that some pet parents have a difficult time with raw meat as example. I’m one of those. While I agree completely with the concept, I can’t get past the raw meat ‘thing’. So my personal situation is I prefer to cook for mine. Also, some pets do well on raw (using this same example) and other pets don’t. It all just depends on the pet and on the pet parents situation.
8. Is there still a problem with aluminum cans vs. tin cans and what about the white lined cans?
The concern with canned foods is the lining. Many canned foods (including human foods) contain a plastic lining that contains Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is linked to serious illness; science has linked heat to the absorption of BPA into the food. Since canned foods are cooked in the can (heated), there is a concern of the chemical leaching into the food. Many small aluminum canned pet foods do not contain a BPA lining. The only way to know for certain is to call the manufacturer and ask (does your pet food cans contain a BPA lining?).
Thank you to Susan for this interview. If you have additional questions for Susan, please feel free to leave a comment or visit her website, truthaboutpetfood.com.
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,
Just found this post through a couple of other posts (backtracking… I love links to older, complimentary articles!). I really appreciate the interview, Jenny, and I’ll be subscribing to the truthaboutpetfood site ASAP!
Yay! Pleased they were helpful to you!
I subscribe to her site and I’m glad she is such a zealot, doing what she does. I admire her work! I just wish she would mention specific brands when it comes to what foods are best. It takes a lot of research for the average cat parent to be informed and even then, you don’t know if the information you gather is correct. It is so difficult to know what commercial foods are safe and who you can trust!