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Grocery stores struggling to keep cat food in stock | News

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Cat owners may find some bare shelves in the pet food aisles at local grocery stores.

Wegmans stores are experiencing a cat food shortage as a result of weather challenges over the last few weeks especially in Pennsylvania, Wegmans spokeswoman Laura Camera said.

Manufacturers aren’t able to produce and distribute as many cases, creating shortages across the industry, she said.

“We are working with our suppliers to secure as much product as possible and hope to get more product back on the shelves soon,” Camera said.

Gerrity’s stores in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties also have been short supplies of canned cat food in certain brands like Fancy Feast, Friskies and 9 Lives, co-owner Joe Fasula said.

“We’re seeing some unreliability and some of the flavors might not come in and it’s inconsistent in terms of the problem,” he said. “We’re not seeing problems in all brands.”

Fasula said the problem is related to a shortage in supply of cans and production issues as well as a labor shortage.

Recently, there were shipping delays of cat food as a result of weather conditions but Fasula said the can supply problem started before that and he said he’s seeing COVID-19-related production issues across the board.

“The can issue has been going on almost since the beginning,” he said. “When people switched from getting fountain sodas at restaurants to buying 12-packs of cans, there’s been production issues of cans all along. It’s gotten a little better but now it filtered into the canned cat food arena.”

A cat food shortage also can be seen at Weis Markets, mainly in the wet and canned food categories.

Weis spokesman Dennis Curtin said the shortage isn’t as bad as the shortage of paper goods and surface cleaners last spring, however.

“For the moment, retailers across the country are receiving less pet food shipments due to production issues related to the pandemic,” he said.

Curtin said the shortage of wet and canned cat food products bottomed out in January and Weis started catching up this month but the recent winter storm impacted suppliers who missed a couple days of production.

“Our suppliers expect it to improve significantly in March and April,” he said. “We are still getting a significant amount of wet and canned products, just not enough in some cases. This is an industry-wide problem for the moment.”

Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge in Franklin Twp. has about 100 cats ready to be adopted and founder Marge Bart said they haven’t experienced any problems getting wet and dry cat food which is delivered from Chewy and donated.

If people cannot find the cat food they typically buy, they should not feed their cats dog food, said Brenda Bartlett, owner of Village Pet Supplies and Gifts.

“You can’t give a cat dog food because it causes heart problems,” Bartlett said.

While grocery stores have experienced shortages of certain brands of canned cat food, Bartlett said Village Pet Supplies and Gifts stores in Hanover Twp. and Luzerne are stocked with natural cat food with human-grade ingredients.

This pet food is not made at the same facilities as the canned cat food experiencing shortages, she said.

“We are actually seeing everything bounce back to normal at this point in terms of the manufacturing rate of the human grade foods,” she said. “The problems are in the grocery brands and that doesn’t affect anything at our stores and we are having no problem with product arriving.”

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