In a world-first, Chicago venture makes mouse cookies for cats from cultured meat

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Thanks to an enterprising Chicago couple, cats in America will soon be enjoying real mouse meat in cookies – without a single mouse being hurt.

The company ‘Because, Animals’, is the world’s first and only biotech company bringing clean cultured meat to the growing pet food market. Its new product – Harmless Hunt Mouse Cookies for cats – is being unveiled at the SuperZoo trade show in Las Vegas this week. Barring any regulatory or governance challenges, it will be sold to preorder late this year, before going on widespread commercial sale early next.  

Co-founders Dr Shannon Falconer and Joshua Errett, have spent five years bringing the concept to fruition, using “humanely harvested cells,” nourished by safe additives to create pet foods that are safer, healthier, and more sustainable than conventional factory-farmed pet foods. In many parts of the world pet food is made from knackered livestock and fish waste. The company already produces plant-based treats for cats and dogs. 

In a world-first, Chicago venture makes mouse cookies for cats from cultured meat
Co-founder Dr Shannon Falconer.

The final feline-approved formula for Harmless Hunt Mouse Cookies for Cats include cultured mouse blended with nutritious and tasty ingredients, such as tempeh, miso and nutritional yeast. “Taste tests” showed even finicky cats enjoyed the novel mouse protein treats – the species-appropriate, ancestral diet of the cat. One of the testers was Errett’s cat Frankie. 

“The public launch of Harmless Hunt is a milestone for us, for the cultured and alt-protein industry, for pet food, and for animals raised and slaughtered to feed cats and dogs,” said Falconer. “We are finally able to provide pets with a healthier, safer, greener choice at a price that will be on par with other premium retail products.”

The founders say that using mouse cells avoids the most prevalent food allergens in pets – beef and poultry. There are no by-products found in slaughterhouses or rendered ingredients and the cultured meat is free from antibiotics and pathogens.

In a world-first, Chicago venture makes mouse cookies for cats from cultured meat
Co-founder Joshua Errett and Frankie.

Because, Animals has worked on technology that could well be a process welcomed by companies developing cell-based, cultured meat for humans, that also reduces costs. 

Dr Falconer says the company has eliminated fetal bovine serum (FBS) from the manufacturing process – a costly, scarce, animal-based ingredient obtained by the slaughter of pregnant cows, an “egregiously cruel” practice widely used by cell-based meat pioneers. 

“Because, Animals’ proprietary, animal-free growth media blends vitamins, trace minerals, and growth factors to provide an environment for cell replication, at a far lower cost than FBS,” she explains.

Dr Falconer has a PhD in biochemistry and was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, while Joshua Errett worked in fintech after earning an MBA from Indiana University. They both left their careers to start Because, Animals after meeting at a cat rescue charity. 

The venture has drawn investment from Orkla, Draper Associates, SOSV, Keen Growth Capital, and others.

Harmless Hunt Mouse Cookies are on show at SuperZoo from August 17-19 at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas.

Featured image: @Chalabala via Twenty20.

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill is a content writer with more than 30 years of experience in five countries. His style has built upon award-winning success in news and features in the print media to leadership in digital communication, spanning news websites, social media, magazines, brochures, and contributing to books. Recognising the devastating impact of consumer behaviour on the planet and wanting to help make a difference Robert launched Viable.Earth as a platform to celebrate positive contributions by brands, companies and individuals towards reducing environmental impact and improve sustainability – especially in the fields of fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, and transportation.



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