There are now lab-grown “mouse cookies” for cats

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If you want to try something, cultured meat is still not easy to find: so far, only one form of cultured chicken has been officially approved, and only in Singapore. But there’s more to come, and your pets won’t have to wait long either. Soon there will be cultured pet food meat that could help reduce the 64 million tonnes of CO2 pollution caused by the production of meat for dog and cat food.

Biotech startup Weil, Animals is the first to focus on pet food and hopes to have its first products on the market by 2022 – including a “mouse biscuit” snack for cats that will make it possible to feed animals from the food supply chain take, ”Shannon Falconer, CEO and co-founder of Weil, Animals, said in an email. “And since humans are the largest consumers of traditional meat, it makes sense to focus on humans when making a cultured meat product. What most people are not aware of, however, is that there is another, very important group of the population that drives the animal breeding industry: our pets. “

It is estimated that more than a quarter of the environmental impact of animal husbandry comes from the feeding of pet meat. Pet foods often use rendered meat, the gruesome ingredients people don’t want (like entrails, heads, bones, and blood) or meat that can’t be legally sold because the cattle were sick or died. The amount of this meat left out is so great that the farmers could not afford to dispose of it as biohazardous waste if they could not sell it; Falconer argues that pet food helps prop up the entire industry.

While some companies make plant-based pet foods, dogs and cats are arguably healthier when they eat meat, especially cats that need certain proteins that can only be found in meat. When the startup began developing products for its first cat food, it decided to start with a mouse rather than beef or chicken. “Cats evolved into predators, their sources of food being mice, rats, rabbits, lizards and insects,” says Falconer. “Although chicken, beef and fish are the main sources of meat in pet food, studies have shown that these proteins are also among the leading food allergens in cats and dogs.” The only reason this meat is used in pet food is she says because it is already made for humans.

The first snack, called Cultured Mouse Cookies for Cats, has been tested by cats and is ready for production, although the company is still working to fully expand its process. As with cultured meat developed for humans, the process begins by harvesting cells from an animal – in this case a mouse (the mouse will not be injured) – and then feeding those cells with nutrients in a bioreactor where they grow and turn into real cells meat that is animal free. Next are cultured rabbits for dogs.

As with cultured meat, the final challenge for humans is regulatory approval. “The regulatory approval will look different depending on the country,” says Falconer. “But the fundamental question any regulator will ask is, how do we know it’s safe? There is not a single experiment that Weil Animals conducts where the health and safety of our cultivated meats is not a top priority. We’re incredibly thorough, so apart from the inherently lengthy review process, we don’t expect any regulatory approval issues.