Merrick More Than Makes Up For Unacceptable Cat Food Can

Monica received a bad can of cat food from her usual company, Merrick Pet Food. But what began with a foul stench ended with her not just staying with the company, but sharing her story with Consumerist.

Just wanted to let you know of a good experience I had with Merrick Pet Food. I include this brand of cat food in the variety that I buy my cats. They have good products overall, good ingredients, quality, etc. Well a few weeks ago I had the horrible experience of opening a rancid can. Definitely one of the worst smells I’ve ever encountered, and it sprayed on my hands when I opened it which left a great lingering stench. So I contacted the company and provided lot information of the can. They replied with the usual apologies and asked for my address so they could send a coupon. I was honestly expecting a coupon to get a free can of cat food. Well, today I received a package from them with a bag of dry food and a coupon for a case of 24 cans of cat food, so about $45 worth of products. This was definitely above and beyond what I expected, they won me back. Good company and they’ll keep getting my business.

Generous and delicious!


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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Is that cat eating hummus?

    Anyway, kudos to Merrick for being awesome to a lady who not only has been confirmed to have cats, but now smells like an old lady’s socks. Maybe they should have thrown in one of those little Christmas tree car fresheners, too.

    How do cans of food get rancid? Is it a problem with the seal on the can?

    • pop top says:

      The kitten is probably eating some wet cat food mixed with some KMR (kitten milk replacement), which is a popular way to feed very young cats, and help work them up to eating solid food. It makes for very messy kitties. :D

    • P=mv says:

      I imagine one way for a can of food to go rancid is for the temperature during canning being too low or inconsistent. If the bacteria in the food is not killed off during canning, the food will not be preserved. Since it sprayed on her hand when she opened it, I doubt it was a problem with the seal.

    • tbax929 says:

      You want to smell something horrid, open up a rancid can of beer. I haven’t drunk beer from a can since.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      Probably not a problem with the seal, but a problem with the canning process, most likely.

      Without sufficient heat to destroy bacteria and sterilize the food, the product may spoil. Foods ferment when open-kettle canning does not destroy yeasts, or permits them to enter the jar before it is sealed. Simply getting lids to seal on jars will not prevent food from spoiling.

      The standard warning is don’t eat any can that explodes or smells foul, cause it just might kill you (or your pet).


    Now watch her get 45 cans of rancid cat food. heh

  3. Slave For Turtles says:

    Merrick sells food that’s better than what my kids have in their school lunches. It’s just amazing! It looks like food. It smells like food. The ingredient list is inspiring. If you’re trying to ween your dog or cat off of table food, this is the best way to go. They won’t know the difference. For some reason, however, my cats don’t care for it. They prefer fish to Merrick’s delicious-looking-and-smelling “Thanksgiving Day Dinner,” which I used to get for them every T-day. Then again, my cats only beg for our food when we’re eating nachos or candy canes.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Could it be that fish generally tastes nothing like anything usually offered at Thanksgiving? Does Merrick make anything with fish in it? I wonder if kittehs would prefer that to actual fish. Your cats eat candy canes? They must have the greatest smelling breath ever.

      • feline says:

        “Your cats eat candy canes?”
        Catnip is in the mint family. Most cats aren’t big fans of mint, but those who are usually go for it in a big way. I had a cat who even liked mint toothpaste. In a bit of irony, he had the worst cat breath ever.

        • pop top says:

          Candy canes might be mint flavor, but they’re not for cats. Feeding them to animals is a dumb idea, to say the least.

          • Slave For Turtles says:

            Absolutely. Our kitties have never received any candy canes, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Someone pointed out that the plastic wrapping on them is also exciting for some cats.

        • Red Cat Linux says:

          I had a cat who would rifle through my purse and pull out packs of searmint gum and gnaw on them. If I didn’t keep those little travel helmet caps on my toothbrush, he would gnaw on the head for the minty aftertaste.

          If you sat anywhere near him after brushing your teeth, or while chewing mint gum, he would try to shove his nose in your mouth if you let him get close enough.

          That, is a cat crazy about mint.

      • Slave For Turtles says:

        For the record, what counts as crack-for-cats in our house is “Tuna For Cats” canned cat food from Trader Joes. They don’t get people food generally, but one cat goes bonkers when we have cantaloupe, so we give her juicy slivers of it. The interwebs said it was healthy.

        I tried to give them Merricks because of the quality, but they don’t even like their California Roll variety. Who knew cats could be so picky? (Don’t bother replying. :-P )

    • pop top says:

      Why do you need to wean your pets off of table food?

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        For real, wtf?

        One of my cats is actually so suspicious of anything but kibble that he refuses to even try turkey or cat treats.

        • pop top says:

          Whoever had my cat before we adopted her must’ve fed her human food ALL THE TIME because she always tries to inspect our dishes and cups after we’ve eaten, and she begs for food while we’re eating. I will feed her little bits of meat from time to time, but I always try to put it in her bowl to help her learn that’s where her food is. She’s not a very good learner though. :(

          • tonberryqueen says:

            I think some cats just have weird food cravings.

            Mine loves bread-y things in a big way. I once put a large slice of pizza down on a side table, and he jumped up, grabbed the crust end in his mouth, and tried to yank the whole thing down to the floor.

            He also likes muffin tops. If I turn away from a muffin for even a second, I will turn back to him gobbling the top like crazy.

            …and I’m not in the habit of allowing him human food. The closest he ever got was the water from the can when my old roommate made a tuna sandwich.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            one of mine won’t touch people food if you hand it to her on a plate but if you leave your plate and turn your back….
            i think it’s the thrill that does it

            the fat one prefers to attack me for raw meat scraps when i am cutting up a roast for freezing. cooked meat does nothing for him

            • Chinchillazilla says:

              Mine too. In fact, when we first got him, he leapt onto the table, grabbed a huge hunk of pumpernickel, and ran off with it.

              We think he just thought he had to fight for food. Silly cat, you can have more tasty things than bread!

  4. highmodulus says:

    Smart move by the company- you think other companies would have caught on to this by now, but no.

    • TheObserver says:

      You’d think. With the internet corporations should know that even the smallest and ‘inconsequential’ peon could start a PR nightmare with a few strokes of the keyboard or twitter account.

      Heck people come crying to Consumerist just because the McDonald’s clerk forgot to put mustard on their burger these days.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      It works the other way too. I knew a kid in school (and I mean like 7th grade) who made a hobby of sending letters to companies to tell them how much he liked their product.

      He was constantly getting boxes of product from those companies for having told them that he liked them. Free cough drops, free frozen fish filets, you name it.

  5. sirwired says:

    Small-time consumable product companies are generally thrilled to get feedback like this. You get a very similar reaction from just about any food company in return for writing or calling the 800 number on the bag/can. Using the manufacturing codes, they can hopefully track down the issue and keep it from happening again. (Had they experimented with a new can supplier? Was the temperature of the pressure-canner lower than usual? Which slaughterhouse did the meat come from? etc.) I complained about a faulty batch of Glad kitchen bags, and they even mailed me a pre-paid envelope to send the bad bags back in so they could study them to figure out what went wrong.

    This especially applies to food safety issues like this one. That can of food almost certainly was deadly toxic. (Although not botulism, as a rancid smell implies the presence of oxygen, which botulism does not grow in.) What really terrifies a food company is the idea of: What about before the stench was obvious? Foods can be quite spoiled but not yet rank-smelling. Very few companies are so heartless that they don’t care at all about killing your pet.

  6. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    One of my pet food stores I frequent has stopped carrying Merrick because they get their cans from China, which the store owner is concerned about. Having bought the brand for my cats and smelling it (seriously, the ingredients are better then some of the food I feed myself and it SMELLS so good) and since my cats love many of the flavors I’m not too worried about the source of the can itself. It’s good to know that the company cares.

    • pop top says:

      Merrick is one of the better pet food companies. Good ingredients, healthy food and it seems like they have amazing customer service too.

  7. Graymalkin56 says:

    Merrick’s canned cat food looks and smells really good, much better than the national mega-brands, and it’s priced quite competitively at my local pet feed store.

    Unfortunately, my cats won’t touch it. Silly cats.

    • Chinchillazilla says:

      Mine, either. They want the cheapest, nastiest-smelling cat food around.

      At least they’ll settle for high-quality dry food, anyway. :/

  8. MrEvil says:

    The local Merrick office in my city is full of some very nice people. I’ve had to do service calls for some of their computers before. Just a really nice bunch of folks working there. This really doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    • MrEvil says:

      Correction, aparrently that’s Merrick pet food’s corporate HQ I’ve visited. I didn’t realize they were based right here in my home town, Amarillo Texas.

  9. canyonero66 says:

    I, too, have warm fuzzy feelings about Merrick – and about the store where I purchase it, Pets Plus. I had to place one of my cats on a restricted diet – no fish, no organ meats, and it is amazing how many cat foods either contain fish (oil, juice, meal, etc.) or liver, kidney, or heart meats. I found the B.G. or Before Grain line of Merrick-produced canned and dry foods, but it wasn’t apparent from the label whether Turkey meant white and dark meat, or if they chucked a whole turkey into the grinder. I asked the manager of my local Pets Plus if he knew specifics about the food’s contents, and he told me he would contact the company and let me know what he learned.

    When he called me the next afternoon he told me that he called Merrick and reached a customer service person who didn’t know the answer either, but spent over an hour tracking down the answer, then special ordered me a bag of the dry food when he learned that it did not contain fish or organs.

    The cat for which I was going to purchase the food has passed on, but I was sufficiently impressed by the quality of the food, the Merrick customer service, and the Pets Plus manager that I continue to buy it for my other cat. Despite the higher price for the B.G. brand, Merrick has earned my loyalty for being conscientious and thorough. Customer service really does weigh heavily in obtaining consumer loyalty, and businesses that do not place value on the loyalty of customers are only blacking the eyes of their own brands.