Recently, Bella, a blue silver classic tabby, and reader of Green Little Cat, wrote in to tell us about her latest culinary discovery, Orijen. Fresh, local, never-frozen, free-run poultry, free-range meat, wild-caught fish, and sustainably farmed, fished or ranched, Orijen’s ingredients read like a menu at a trendy Californian restaurant. But, these are actually the ingredients that go into their cat and dog foods.
Bella sniffed her nose up at other natural cat foods, but she loves Orijen. Bella’s owner spent many hours testing and researching cat food in order to give Bella the best cat food she could find. I can certainly relate. Those of you who read my Natural Cat Food Throwdown know that I investigated the eco-friendliness of several natural cat foods when I was looking for a high protein diet to help Furball manage his struvite crystals. Before Furball’s bladder issues, I had also reviewed several brands of organic cat food too. Despite all this research, I was surprised that I had never learned of Orijen before.
Orijen is made by Champion Pet Foods, a Canadian-based company located in Alberta. Their philosophy on pet food is to create fresh, biologically appropriate food. By biologically appropriate, they try to mirror the natural diet that dogs and cats would consume in their natural environment and for which they evolved. Basically, this is a high-protein diet with 80% protein and 20% fruits and/or vegetables. No grains are included in any of their foods. They also process their pet foods themselves in a state-of-the-art food processing facility in Alberta.
As with anything that is brought to my attention, I do like to do a little due diligence. In this case, I used my favourite search phrase for digging up dirt on pet food companies. Here it is. Simply enter the name of the food or the company in your search query and add the word, “recall” after it. In this case, I did a search for Orijen recall.
There was one major incident in 2008 where a number of cats in Australia suffered paralysis and/or death and it was linked to eating Orijen cat food. No dogs were affected. Apparently the problem was not the contents of the food, but the irradiation process used to treat the food for export to Australia. As a result, Australia banned the irradiation of cat food. It makes you wonder when many foods for humans are also irradiated.
I also found a dog forum where owners were concerned about finding salmon bone fragments in the dog food. Champion discovered that the problem was with one of their suppliers and had halted shipment on the food, but a few batches still got out. They also responded to the post on the dog forum and depending on your perspective, this was either a heinous disrespect of dog lovers everywhere or a sound, balanced and appropriate response. Honestly, I felt the latter, but I don’t have a dog, so I can’t really say how I would feel if I saw my dog eating food with bone fragments.
All in all, I would have to say that I agree with Orijen’s philosophy on pet food and applaud it for its dedication to local ingredients, sustainable harvesting, human-grade foods and free range meats. Thanks for the tip Bella!