History of pet food manufacturing in the USA

Domestication of cats and dogs was probably influenced by the enticement of food. Formation of a mutually beneficial association between Egyptians - who cultivated and stored grains - and wild cats that found abundant rodent species in Egyptian homes and food storage areas likely affected feline domestication. In any case, feeding domestic cats and dogs with table scraps and supplemental scavenging was the method of feeding until the mid 1800’s.

The first commercially available pet food was created in 1860 by James Spratt, an American living in the United Kingdom, who was unimpressed with shipboard biscuits given to his dog on the passage across the Atlantic ocean. Spratt developes a dry ”dog cake” or kibble that he sold to English huntsmen. Spratt’s United States company continued to manufacture pet food until it was purchased by General Mills in the late 1950’s.

The next influencial figure in the pet food industry was an Englishman named F.H. Bennett. In 1907, Bennett’s company was formed in NYC and introduced MilkBone dog biscuits, which were marketed as a complete dog food.

The modern era of dry pet food manufacturing began in 1957 and continued through the 60’s when the Ralston Purina Company, St-Louis, MO, introduced the first extruded dog and cats foods called Dog Chow and Cat Chow. Moist cat foods, predominantly canned fish varieties in single-serving 6-oz. cans, were the top sellers at this time. During this time frame, General Foods created Gaines Burger, a new food that incorporated the convenience of dry food with the palatability of canned foods. It was the first semi-moist dog product. Tender Vittles, the first semi-moist cat food, was created by Ralston Purina in the early 1970’s.