For a number of years, Cooper was perfectly content to eat the Purina DM dry food we gave her. After moving to Seattle in 2006, however, the pickiness of old age set in, and she issued a wet food decree. After spending tens of dollars trying out various gourmet organic all-meat products, we found the wet food she most preferred was the low-rent Friskies cans. And, within Friskies’ admirably diverse selection, she preferred the mushier alternatives to the chunkier ones. Out was Tender Cuts with Ocean Whitefish Sauce; in was Mariner’s Catch, perhaps as a half-hearted attempt to support a local sports team.
Indeed, even within the “loaf” varieties, Cooper preferred the ones that were vague on what sort of animals were dropped into a chipper shredder, mixed with sawdust, and tinned for the apocolypse. Cans bearing labels like Chicken & Tuna Dinner were less well received than Mixed Grill or, her favorite, Country Style Dinner.
My theory about Country Style Dinner, which identifies its primary ingredient as “meat by-products,” is that it is composed primarily of discarded circus animals. And before you get all down on Friskies for false labeling, I’ll explain how that’s perfectly consistent with the “Country Style” label.
Young children are sometimes told by their parents that their beloved dog, Rover, went to go live on a farm in the country where he’d have plenty of room to play, chase rabbits, and generally live a much more fulfilling life than he would have had he continued to be cooped up in an apartment. The parents do this to avoid discussing death, which is exactly what happened to Rover. Circus animal handlers, especially in the less-reputable circuses, are notoriously child-like in mentality. So rather than have the awkwardness of trying to explain to Duane the Animal Handler and Certified Moron about how life doesn’t last forever, Mr. Big Top lies and says that Trunky the Elephant, Bitey the Lion, and Strangler the Python went to live on a farm in the country, where they’ll have plenty of trees to strip bare, zebra to chase, and rats to devour. If Duane starts to doubt the truth of Mr. Big Top’s lie, Mr. Big Top can supplement by explaining that the country farm is in Texas, where the crazy land rich often have a host of African Savannah animals roaming around, conveniently leaving out the part of about those crazy land rich individual’s predilection for hunting.
Which makes Friskies Country Style Dinner as a name not so much false as a clever in-joke. And it makes Cooper’s preference for Country Style Dinner, with its chipper shredded elephant, lion, and python ingredients, further evidence that house cats really are at the top of the food chain.