Reality TV for the Meowies

May 24, 2006

Don’t know how you feel. In my books, reality tv just crossed the line.

10 Cats to Live Together in a House and Vie for Job with The Meow Mix Company

SECAUCUS, N.J., May 23 /PRNewswire/

Reality show contestants will do anything to win. Whether it’s living on a deserted island, undergoing plastic surgery or eating cockroaches, they will stop at nothing to be the best. In the latest twist on the reality genre, competitors will be asked to lick themselves clean, chase balls of string, and relieve themselves in a litter box as they scratch and claw their way towards the grand prize. However, for these particular participants, accomplishing the tasks will be second nature. After all, they are cats.

Ten felines from shelters all over the country will be selected to compete in the inaugural edition of The Meow Mix House. The cats will travel to New York City and live together in a specially-designed house from June 13th to 23rd. These cat-testants, selected from geographically and culturally diverse backgrounds, will share a kitty crib that will rival any loft ever featured on the Real World. Thanks to webcams equipped in every room in the house, peeping tomcats with internet access will be able to view all the action in real time and find out just what cats do all day when their owners aren’t around.

People can also go to to vote for their favorite feline, and the cat with the fewest votes will be evicted from the house. All the kitties in the Meow Mix House are winners, since whichever puss gets the boot will then be adopted into a permanent home, and receive a one-year supply of Meow Mix as a consolation prize. One by one the cats will be sent packing, until only the pick of the litter remains. In addition to winning a new life with a new family, the last cat standing will also receive a job working for The Meow Mix Company as Feline Vice President of Research and Development. He or she will be responsible for taste testing and offering valuable feedback on new Meow Mix product launches and line extensions.

The participating shelters include: Touched by an Animal (Chicago); Operation Kindness (Dallas); Houston Humane Society (Houston); KittenRescue (Los Angeles); Nashville Humane Association (Nashville); The CatNetwork (Miami); ASPCA (New York); P.A.L.S. (Philadelphia); CatAdoption Team (Portland, OR); and the St. Charles Humane Association(St. Louis). Working with local animal shelters, Meow Mix will pre-select a family in each city to adopt the cats after their tenure in the house ends.

The Meow Mix Company will be producing the show along with Grand Central Marketing, Meow Mix’s event marketing and promotion agency, and MMB, Meow Mix’s advertising agency. All the action will be filmed inside the Meow Mix House and packaged into a series of episodes. Since not everyone can understand what cats are saying, pop-up dialogue bubbles will be used to help translate the meows into English. Negotiations are currently underway with several cable networks regarding the airing of the show.

Although reality television may seem an unlikely departure for a company known primarily for its cat food, Meow Mix CEO and Top Cat Richard Thompson explains that the show is a logical extension for the brand.

“At Meow Mix, we are cat people first and foremost,” said Thompson. “We all own cats, we love cats, and we’ve been making great-tasting catfood for over 30 years. You might say we’re the industry leader in understanding cats. If anyone has the insight to explore the reality of cats’ lives, it would certainly be us.”

Meow Mix will use the reality show as a platform to showcase its products. The cats will eat Meow Mix Indoor Formula and the brand’s newest offering, Meow Mix Market Select wet food, which comes in easy-open cups. In addition, the company’s new line of cat treats will be offered to winners of reward challenges.

Dr. Lewis Berman, one of the country’s best-known and most-respected animal practitioners, will examine all of the cats before they come to live in the house. In addition, he and his associates at Park East Animal Hospital will be on call 24 hours a day in the event that any of the cats need medical assistance.

Several sponsors will be donating furniture, accessories, and services to The Meow Mix House, including Furniture for Pets, who will be providing beds for the cats, and Cats Rule, who will provide bowls, litter mats, and litter scoops. Fat Cat Inc. is supplying cat toys, and Lucky Litter is donating scoop free automatic litterboxes. Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts will provide hotel accommodations for all shelter volunteers who accompany the cats to and from New York.


17 Responses to “Reality TV for the Meowies”

  1. calsifer said

    Yikes… crossed the line indeed!

    I do think it’s a despicable thing petstuff manufacturers do, when they tout or involve shelter animals in any way.

    Cat, you probably know my shtick with pet food… anyway, I took a peek at the Meow Mix offering. Typical of Meow Mix’s offering, Meow Mix Original Choice ingredient list: Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Beef Tallow Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols (Source of Vitamin E), Turkey By-Product Meal, Salmon Meal, Oceanfish Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Phosphoric Acid, Animal Digest, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Tetra Sodium Pyrophosphate, Calcium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Added Color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2 and other Color), Salt, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, L-alanine, Niacin, Vitamin Supplements (E, A, B-12, D-3), Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Citric Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite. E-4541

    It’s horrible that the very first ingredient in the Meow Mix Original is not even a protein source, and worse that the first protein source we see is in position 3! Coupled with the next 3 ingredients, the top eigth are all by-products and corn fillers, Yikes! How shameless of Meow Mix to brandish the slogan: “Tastes so good, cats ask for it by name!”

    It’s really the pits, to me anyway, when a poor quality pet food like Meow Mix raises its profile and people think it’s a good food to give to their cats. And most people will, because most people won’t bother to read the ingredients list.

    So easy to lead people on. I don’t know which is sadder, businesses like Meow Mix getting away with gimmicks like this reality tv thing or the naivete of people in lapping it all up, hook, line, sinker.

  2. kuro.shiro.neko said

    hey, i hear you, calsifer, but think of it this way, the shelter cats get adopted, a home, and love. so the 10 cats win afterall… just hope the cats are not too stressed “living” together.

  3. kuro.shiro.neko said

    also, it’s great (and free) publicity for the shelters, and cat toys for the cats!

    i personally think it is a win-win situation for all.

  4. calsifer said

    I know what you mean, but the quality of the food makes a really big dent in the win-winness.

    Remember, the cats in the show have to EAT the gunk, and the one who wins the contest will be committed to eat it his/her whole career!

    Did anyone ever ask the cats for their opinions? If they understood what’s in Meow Mix and they could talk, I’ll bet there’ll be a mighty lawsuit in the works.

    Also, cats whose people watch the show may go out and buy the gunk for them to eat too…

    As people, we don’t eat junk all day long – we have proper meals, even the most avid junkfoodies.

    The sad thing about this shenanigan is that the cats in the show are made to eat junk exclusively, and many more cats will be made to eat junk by their misguided people.

    In parting: “Don’t be slack, check the damn inredient list!”

  5. kuro.shiro.neko said

    hi calsifer, do you consider “a lot of yellow corn meal” as junk?

    like yourself, i have read about the horrific stories about petfood manufacturers and the industry.

    however, do note that there are always 2 sides in a coin. i personally have been inside a petfood factory in thailand, and i can assure you that the hygiene and quality of raw materials in it may be much better than some of the human food factories around.

    i dont want to start a flame here, but i do want to ask that you not be so one-sided. afterall, consumers are well-informed these days. they know the principle, 一分钱一分货。

    and personally, meow mix may be much better than starvation on the streets.

    it’s all relative.

    ps i dont feed commercial food. i cook my own for my cats.

  6. calsifer said

    Yellow-corn IS junk. Fillers. Some cats are actually sensitive to it.

    I know because I have at least 1 cat who is.

    Hygiene inside a factory notwithstanding, the quality and type of ingredients is the vital point.

    Good on you and your cats for home-cooking their food.

    Personally, I would cook for my cats, if they would eat home-cooked food, and if I can be sure of providing all their nutritional needs. But neither condition can be met, so I can only rely on good quality pet food. And that’s why I’m particular about commercial pet food ingredients

    In the quest for a pet food I’m happy with, and which my cats will eat, I’ve tried many pet foods. I feed both my home and homeless cats the same food, so I know if something’s not good. Without naming names here, virtually every brand we’ve been on that features corn, cornmeal, corn gluten, and by-products, my cats don’t do well.

    My barometer is Teddy, whose system is extra sensitive. So no, I do not think it’s simply a matter of junk like Meow Mix being a better option than starvation.

    As for consumer awareness and savvy, I beg to differ. I’ve come across many people who expressed envy and admiration that the homeless cats we feed look so much healthier and sleeker than their own home cats. When asked what they feed, invariably, the common answers are the supermarket brands, Friskies, Whiskas, ikan kuning/goreng, rice, etc. These people had different ideas about the concept of 一分钱一分货 when it comes to pet food, either that, or they pretend not to understand it. With them, when I explain about what they should be looking out for, and using what we feed and have fed as examples, I notice many of them stop listening. They don’t want to change their pet food, out of laziness about the hassle of introducing new food, or a reluctance to increase their pet food expenditure, and don’t believe in buying decent food for their cats.

    For some, there’s even the suspicion that I’m not being truthful, and am in fact withholding secrets to our cats’ glowing looks. Besides, expensive does not necessarily mean good food. There are some ‘premium’ brands that use by-products.

    The proof, as ever, is in the ingredients list. We’ve been taught to take note of expiry dates on processed food, and to note ingredients listings for the sake of our health. It’s a simple thing to do it for our cats too, but too few people are even aware of it. Hence my parting shot, “Don’t be slack, check the damn ingredient list!” in my previous response.

    So no, it’s not a one-side view, it’s a coming-from-personal-experience view. All thing being equal, I do appreciate that there’s always 2 sides to every coin. But for this case, there’s no equality, or very little if any exist – the differences in the sides is stark.

    If you want to brand that as one-sidedness, then imo, your views that don’t consider the potential harm to the cats eating corn and by-products, can also be termed such – I ask you to consider that.

    I enjoy discussions and debates. There’s no need to regress into flames, we just need to keep our heads.

    PS Cat, I apologise for the monopolising of your blog comments tool.

  7. Cat said

    Not at all, be my guest, debate on!

    Personally, I am disgusted by the fact that they are exploiting the cats for entertainment. The only reward these 10 cats are gonna get is a home (I didn’t a good home) & a lifetime of unhealthy cat food which will harm in the long run. It is like giving a homeless a home & feed him McDonald’s 3x meals a day for the rest of his life.

    Meanwhile the network & those ‘Meowzers’ are laughing all the way to the bank at the cats’ expense.

    I see where both of you are coming from.

    From the standpoint of a stray cat, say what you will, it is better to have a full stomach than to go hungry.

    Having said that, in an ideal world, all cats should be fed with good quality, healthy cat food instead of those consisting of color dyes & animal by-products.

    But reality is, there are & will always be people who do feed their cats inferior quality cat food – for different reasons.

    It may be that they cannot be bothered to change (too expensive, too much of a hassle). Or it could be that they can only afford these because they are cheaper & easily available in all supermarkets. It could be they just don’t know better.

    What we can do & should do is, to correct the misconception that cat food is just cat food. That there are different grades & explain the benefits of feeding a good quality one.

    I think this is the best we can do for the cats.

  8. calsifer said

    Personally, I am disgusted by the fact that they are exploiting the cats for entertainment. The only reward these 10 cats are gonna get is a home (I didn’t a good home) & a lifetime of unhealthy cat food which will harm in the long run. It is like giving a homeless a home & feed him McDonald’s 3x meals a day for the rest of his life.

    So so agree with that!

    From the standpoint of a stray cat, say what you will, it is better to have a full stomach than to go hungry.

    The thing is, WE, the feeders, should know better, and we shouldn’t be feeding them food that may end up causing them harm or otherwise compromise their health. That’s my bugbear with the attitude of some feeders – they think they are doing the cat such a BIG favour, when in fact they could be causing more harm then if they didn’t feed.

    What we can do & should do is, to correct the misconception that cat food is just cat food. That there are different grades & explain the benefits of feeding a good quality one.

    UBER well said! So that’s what I everywhere I can… hence the pokey nose in here. =P Thanks for your tolerance, Cat. Much appreciated =)

  9. kuro.shiro.neko said

    calsifer, it is not that i dont consider the harmful effects of this reality show, or the “junk” petfood industry, so to speak. but i do believe in a balanced world, ie, there’s always good and bad of something, anything.

    and also, this is not a perfect, or ideal world. natural law is you have to pay a price for something you want, nothing’s free.

    so there! 🙂

  10. Zeus said

    My human pet and I are more bothered by the animals being used as entertainment than we are by the food product. We do agree that Meow Mix is a subpar choice, but to stoop to this level in order to increase their sales is a bit sickening. I personally cannot imagine this series doing well in the ratings as most homo sapiens are not going to want to spend the time to watch something like this, but at the same time, I think this series does exploit homo sapien psychology in regards to reality tv as a whole: It’s always more fun to watch than it is to participate. In this instance with these ten felines, watching and not participating is practically dangerous.

    If these ten felines do not get along, will those involved in production allow them to hurt one another in the brawls that are more than likely bound to occur? Are they going to publicize these “cat-fights”, create mock dramatizations, and then attempt to lure in viewers with crazed voice-overs? I don’t find it funny to watch my brothers and sisters go at it simply for a home or some food. Going along with cat’s metaphor, surely ten strangers who are all homeless would fight over the same rationed food and water provided to them and to the best sleeping quarters. (This is not to somehow degrade those who are homeless, but merely to make a comparison.) We see this now anyway on shows like Survivor and Big Brother.

    Yes, there’s a fantastic award at the end for these lucky ten felines, but there’s also a subtle message being implied as well. What constitutes entertainment, and to what end are homo sapiens willing to promote consumer goods? The answer to that, I fear, may be more frightening than just the Meow Mix.

  11. calsifer said

    Well said! Really really well-said. Would you accept a chin-tickle or tummy rub?

    Cool, you have a view, and so do I. Does that mean my view is any less “balanced’ than yours? Balance is what I believe in too, but the image of a level weighing scale, with symmetric shapes and substance on both sides, which seem to constitute your idea of balance, this kind of balance cannot be in the absence of the vital caveat emptor – equality. So the views on my weighing scale is stacked heavily, just so I can find the balance in the issue.

    I’ll use another example – conservation, specifically, tigers. Now, I do understand the reasoning behind the necessity of captivity and breeding programs, in the name of ‘education’ , ‘bringing wildlife to the masses’, and ‘species preservation aka conservation’.

    One of the hippest and most popular gimmick is to tout ‘Save the Endangered WHITE Tiger’, in zoos all over the world, even the Singapore Zoological Gardens. Why gimmick?

    Consider, the tiger genus has 8 sub-species apread over Asia, 3 of which are extinct. But whether still struggling for survival or gone the way of the dodo, the white tiger is NOT one of these sub-species.

    Instead the white tiger is a mutant, it was first noted in the bengal tiger, and in the wild only 1 in 10,000 tigers are white.

    There are, in total, 6,000 wild tigers, estimated, surviving in the wild now. Of these, only 2-3000 are bengal tigers.

    So, where did the captive white tiger population, numbering hundreds, in zoos, circus and private collections around the world come from??

    Captive tiger, or anything, breeding, like cat/dog pedigree breeding, entails selective breeding – carefully choosing specimens with the desired traits and then mating them.

    The white tiger occurs because of a reccessive gene. Leaving it to nature to decide whether a cub would be white or not, is like playing the lottery, and no breeder can afford to wait on that 1/10,000th chance.

    So captive-bred white tigers are bred from related tigers – father-daughter, father-granddaughter… you get the picture.

    It is common knowledge that mating of related specimens, holds true for humans too, heightens the chance of genetic defects.

    For every handsome white tiger being exploited to earn tourist/customer moola, there may be anything from 60 to a few hundreds failed white tigers – some are stillborn, some suffer delibilating birth defects throughout their lives – blindness, deafness, cross-eyes, hip/leg deformities etc, most don’t live long and die early.

    But remember, selective breeding is still a chancy thing. There’s no guarantee you’ll get white tiger babies every single time. So what happens to the non-white tiger babies? Abandoned, killed, abused, tortured… just like the kittens and puppies of kitten and puppy mills. Some are sold to the chinese medicine trade.

    “…The white tiger population in todays zoos traces its ancestry to a single white male named mohan, collected in 1951. Successive inbreeding in captive populations for the variation has resulted in the approximately 250 white tigers in existence today. The inherent genetic problems associated with the required father/daughter/granddaughter pairings, resulting in the white tiger lineage, often manifests itself in other abnormalities including crossed eyes, bone deformations and reduced immune system functions. These factors have created a controversy among zoos, animal rights groups and those facilities who chose to breed and display the white tigers. At the root of the problem is the fact that white tigers are a popular exhibit, helping increase attendance and revenues at zoos and animal parks, while on the other hand their breeding serves no conservation purpose.” (source)

    (More information about white tigers and their breeding, and the very real implications for the tigers involved, as much victims as the ten cats in the Meo Mix gimmick if not more so, can be accessed here: The story of Zabu and Cameron, The White Tiger Fraud [check out especially pics 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 – this is how most white tigers tend to look like, the ones the public don’t see], The White Tigers of Rewa, White Tigers, Breeders have over-exploited their appeal, This is a White Tiger. Other exotica breeding and abuse: , Hybrid and Mutant Big Cats)

    Putting aside the sheer waste of life, the tiger is afterall a highly endangered species, the conduct of captive white tiger breeders and the zoos/people who support them are equally despicable.

    If there is no demand, there will be no supply is the common refrain. So if people will look beyond the enchanting allure of the White Tiger Conservation movement, and ask zoos how this fits into the more vital TIGER conservation, then maybe there is hope for the true tiger conversation effort. Because, given all the facts, white tiger conservation cannot be discussed outside the context of tiger conservation per se.

    In this case, say what you will of my views, I cannot find a balance where support for the zoos exist with the opposition of captive white tiger exploitation can balance each other out – so I tilt prominently towards against, and no longer have the desire to pay to visit zoos. Nat Geo and Animal Planet are good enough for me.

    (But, here again, as a little sidetrack, I do not see the consumer savvy that you’re so confident of in the pet issue issue. I also agree that with your statement:”natural law is you have to pay a price for something you want, nothing’s free”. But I find that people do not like bad news, and don’t want to know the truth. They prefer to be deceived by untruths, as long as they are pleasant. People would pay, but they prefer to PAY for happy deceptions. Personally, I believe that is why the horrors of factory farming and circuses got so out of hand, and, disgustingly, is still on-going.)

    Anyway, that is why I do not form firm opinions based on prima facie evidence anymore. There is always a need to probe deeper, and ask the WHAT, WHO, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, WHY.

    IT behooves us to.

    Frankly, no matter how balanced your view is, as long as you take a side, you’ve ‘sided’. And the balance is tipped already.

    So again, imo, the formation of a so-called balanced view must be preceded by equality of facts and the situational information, where there is no equality, there can be no balance.

    And yeah, so there! =)

  12. kuro.shiro.neko said

    hi calsifer, i think you are reading too much into my views.

    “If you want to brand that as one-sidedness, then imo, your views that don’t consider the potential harm to the cats eating corn and by-products, can also be termed such – I ask you to consider that.”

    i dont think i have ever said, or suggested that cats eating corn and by-products are healthy, or whatever you have inpterpreted.

    also, it is not my intent to criticise your views. i was merely stating my own view in response to yours.

    i will stop here, because you ARE flaming me.

  13. calsifer said

    ok, I had thought there’s a discussion going on here. Apparently I’m wrong.

    You quote me saying: “If you want to brand that as one-sidedness, then imo, your views that don’t consider the potential harm to the cats eating corn and by-products, can also be termed such – I ask you to consider that.”

    I said this in response to your words in
    a) post 2 and 3 which imply, to me anyway, that it’s acceptable for the cats involved to be eating Meow Mix, within the context of Cat’s blog entry. I note again this is AFTER my first post which stated my issues with the cats having to eat Meow Mix
    b) your words in post 5: “but i do want to ask that you not be so one-sided.”

    From that same post, i’ve already stated how I came about my views, and that I do not think they’re one-sided.

    Your response is to reiterate your point on balance viewpoint, so I bring up another example, out of the many I’ve experienced, where I do not see the balance you speak of.

    Now you say I’m reading too much int your views. But isn’t that a risk anyone posting online must be aware of and accept?

    Besides, I dare to venture to say the same of your request: “but i do want to ask that you not be so one-sided.” Case of the kettle and the pot, don’t you think?

    Plus, you say: “also, it is not my intent to criticise your views. i was merely stating my own view in response to yours.”

    Hey, same here! So it’s reciprocal, wot? You can say your view and defend it, so can I, right? That’s how a two-way flow work, right?

    The most important thing though is this: Flaming. According to various sources is the act of posting up nasty responses. That is a serious accusation from you against me, so I feel I need to clarify this.

    You may not think so, but I am trying to put a viewpoint across within the confines of etiquette, and engage in discussion. The wording may not be to your taste, but come on, it’s hardly nasty words I’m using, and neither am I attacking you personally. So no, I do not accept that I’m flaming you as you so emphasized.

    Point out where I’m nasty in my response to you, and I’ll eat my shoes.

    But then again, I understand, different people have differing standards and thresholds.

    So, whatever.

    PS Cat, again I must apologise if this little back-and-forth causes you any issues. I have learnt another lesson with regards to engagement in debate here.

  14. Cat said

    Right lets move on, shall we? Unless someone has an opinion other than catfood?


  15. vegancat said

    Flaming as in a flaming burger? Life is too short to be flammed shorter 🙂
    Let’s keep our mind tranquil so that we can keep our body healthy so as to speak for our dumb friends for a bit longer before we we go to the rainbows yonder.

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