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Getting answers: canned pet food supply issues

With canned wet cat food and dog food in short supply, we wanted to know why and what people can do to save money while making sure they are feeding their pets.
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 8:05 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A concerned viewer reached out to our newsroom after she was unable to find cat food on the shelves, and the food that is for sale is soaring in price.

With canned wet cat food and dog food in short supply, we wanted to know why and what people can do to save money while making sure they are feeding their pets properly.

“The good news is that as you can see from our shelves, we’re getting much more product,” said Dave’s Soda& Pet City owner Dave Ratner. “The bad news is it’s coming in at a much higher price.”

Local pet store owner Dave Ratner spoke with Western Mass News in the middle of a major pet food storage, but with shelves slowly filling back up.

A Western Mass News viewer, who has been unable to find cat food, reached out to our getting answers line, saying:

“I’ve resorted to mixing cat treats into tuna or even baby food because the shelves are bare.”

“It’s more canned cat food because cats eat tuna,” Ratner explained. “All the tuna comes from Thailand.”

Ratner warned against concocting your own cat food mixture.

“Don’t do that because cats have specific needs, like they need a certain amount of taurine,” he said. “Dogs are so much easier than cats.”

A combination of cost and demand, as household pet ownership grew by 3% during the pandemic, has contributed to what Western New England University Economics Professor Karl Petrick called “a perfect storm.”

“One with the shutdown of factories overseas, particularly in China and Thailand, as well as shipping costs, which have gone through the roof,” Professor Petrick said.

Meanwhile, at Pet Supplies Plus in Springfield, which opened earlier this month, Reid Nelson has relied on exclusive products to boost supply at only 50 cents a can.

“Cats can be picky, I understand that,” Nelson told us. “They definitely have their flavor that they like. We sell a lot of different brands of similar flavors and varieties, give it a shot.”

Store owners are constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve.

“We order it constantly, every week,” Nelson said. “I’m even ordering extras. A lot of times, it’ll give you a certain percentage of what you order, so we order more to try and get a higher percentage.”

We asked for ways to save money with the cost of premium canned food surging.

“Get some good dry and mix it with the can,” Nelson suggested. “That’s a way you can save some money and still feed the dog or cat correctly.”

Professor Petrick also identified ways that you can start to slowly transition your cat or dog to a new diet. For more information on how to do so, you can find tips for switching cat food diets here and dog food diets here.