Covid and the Cat Food Shortage

Josh Feinkind
5 min readJan 20, 2022

Walking down the aisle of your pet store only to find out that there are no cans of food left sounds like every pet parent’s worst nightmare. This scenario is even scarier for cat owners, who know how picky their felines can be. Unfortunately, in today’s world, this is a grim reality for many pet owners. Stores and companies all over are facing pet food shortages, most notably in wet cat food selections. What are the real causes behind it though? How can you find what you’re looking for and keep your felines happy?

What’s Causing the Cat Food Shortage?

You’ve probably noticed it’s not just the cat food shelves that are bare. A lot of items we’ve taken for granted are disappearing quickly from store shelves. To make matters worse, this trend could continue for who knows how long. Remember when Covid first hit and there was no toilet paper for miles and miles? This was due to unexpected purchases combined with factories shut downs. Now, in much the same fashion, companies are having a hard time keeping up with demand. The pandemic is still very much alive and continuing to affect companies and people across the country.

With the Omicron variant running rampant, many people are missing work due to sickness, which is causing companies to be short-staffed. Transport businesses like FedEx and Amazon are scrambling to keep up with orders, all while maintaining quantities of their products. Cargo ships are also having a hard time delivering all the goods they have on their ships. This in turn causes shortages across all the grocery stores and online distribution centers. And on top of all that, there’s also a nationwide aluminum shortage. This shortage especially creates delays in even preparing the wet cat food for sale. Last year, shelves seemed to be stocked back to their usual levels. This happened as companies opened back up and resumed work. Now, however, we’re seeing the effects of short-staffed companies and overall delays in shipping and delivering of goods affecting inventory once again.

Other Products Are Being Affected Too

You’ve probably noticed the empty shelves in other stores too as these issues are impacting more than just our food. “It’s even affecting items sold online, causing delays in getting our cat furniture to our customers,” says Josh Feinkind. His company, The Refined Feline, designs many styles and varieties of modern cat furniture. The Refined Feline has encountered multiple delays in receiving their products and getting them delivered to customers in a timely manner. Many stores can relate to this, especially in the food department. Stores are seeing regular stock of household items, such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies. What they’re not getting enough of though are grocery items, such as pasta, potatoes, eggs, lettuce, and more.

Finicky Felines May Have A Tough Time

Knowing what’s causing the cat food shortage is one thing, but how can you tell Fluffy that she can’t have her favorite food? It may have been difficult enough getting your cats to eat their food before the shortage. Now, with limited varieties available, how can you maintain your cat’s health? If you’re like most cat owners, you’re searching and scrounging popular stores for what you can get. You can search online through places like Amazon, Target, and PetSmart to hopefully get your paws on the varieties your cats enjoy. While tough, it’s important to only order what you need and refrain from stockpiling.

Some cats may enjoy testing out different flavors of their favorite brand of food but most kittie’s stomachs are sensitive. So, if you must switch to a different type of food, be sure to transition slowly. If you’re switching their dry foods, slowly add a little bit of the new food to their usual food. Try to start with at least 75% of the food they’re used to eating. This will help them adjust to the new food and hopefully avoid any stomach issues. Give it at least a few days before adding more of the new food to their diet. It could take a few weeks if not longer for cats to be eating the new food altogether.

Specialty Cat Foods Can Be Even Harder To Find

If your feline companion is on a special diet, this can be a little trickier. Searching your usual sites first is the easiest but it may be out of stock on the more popular websites. You can also try ordering directly from the manufacturer such as Science Diet, Instinct, or Royal Canin. However, you may actually have better luck ordering it through your veterinarian but this could cost more money. Either option may add a bit of stress during an already crazy time but it’ll help ensure you have the right cat food to keep your felines happy and healthy.

Avoid Shortage By Making Your Own Cat Food

Another option to avoid the shortage altogether is to make your own cat food at home. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they eat meat and that’s basically it. You can look up recipes online but make sure they are approved through veterinarians or consult with your vet. Boiling chicken, turkey, and other proteins work but you may need to add vitamins or supplements to the meat. Be sure to check ingredient labels on anything you use, as some foods can be highly poisonous to cats..

How Long Will This Cat Food Shortage Last?

Many experts have mixed answers to this question, as there are many variables still up in the air. For one, the number of Americans testing positive for Covid is increasing again. The hiring shortage is up in the air. Companies don’t know when they’ll hire and retain the staff they need to keep up with demands. That being said, it will most likely be a minimum of a few months. This accounts for hiring shortages and having the proper number of staff to keep up with deliveries. Some experts say this could continue even longer though, possibly even a year.

We’re all keeping our fingers and paws crossed that it won’t take that long though for things to go back to normal. However, we should be prepared to continue searching for our cat’s food to help keep them happy and content while we carry on.

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Josh Feinkind
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Designer of high end cat and dog furniture for over 15 years at https://www.TheRefinedFeline.com. Recipient of Pet Age's 40 under 40 award.