Lois Stailing went to Hannaford, Shaw’s, Market Basket and finally Walmart before she could get her hands on a box of Fancy Feast canned cat food.
Fancy Feast, is one of the only foods that Stailing’s fussy 19-year-old cat, Taffy, will eat, and Stailing couldn’t understand why, suddenly, the staple was nowhere to be found.
But Stailing, who lives in South Portland, isn’t the only cat lover grappling with bare shelves.
Canned cat food – and to a lesser extent canned dog food – has been in short supply, putting many pet owners in a bind as makers Nestle and Mars, among others, deal with pandemic-related supply chain issues and increased demand.
Cat owners, especially, are feeling the pinch. Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows that, for the most part, they’ll devour just about anything, so switching dinner brands is no big deal. Cats, however, are notoriously picky eaters, prone to turning their noses up at a can of food that’s not up to their standards, so a switch isn’t always easy.
It’s not just shoppers who are facing low stocks.
According to Kate Griffith, community programs manager at Midcoast Humane in Brunswick, the holiday season is usually met with a rush of donations, but this year, the animal shelter has received less canned cat food than ever.
One person fostering kittens for the shelter went to three stores looking for Fancy Feast, Griffith said, but couldn’t find it. Prescription foods, too, have been difficult to get, sometimes taking a month or more to come in, she added.
The Pet Food Institute, a trade organization representing the major U.S. pet food brands, including Nestle Purina and Mars Petcare, did not cite any one cause of the shortage, but said in an email that increased demand, the availability of transportation and drivers, and weather all can affect the availability of retail pet food.
“This can be further compounded by regulatory and trade developments that ripple up the supply chain, such as government incentives for renewable diesel that impact the pet food ingredient marketplace and cargo ship delays at America’s ports,” said Dana Brooks, president and CEO of the Pet Food Institute.
Many people are spending more time at home with their pets, which can lead to more feeding and more treats than usual, she said, encouraging shoppers to purchase only the amount of food they regularly need.
The Pet Institute was unable to predict how long the shortage will last.
BACK IN BUSINESS
At Will’s Shop ‘n Save in Dover-Foxcroft, manager David Kinsman breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday when the store finally was able to restock its shelves.
The store shared the news on Facebook with a picture of a fully stocked pet food aisle, announcing, “We are back in the cat food game.” Over 150 people “liked” the post, and …….