So, here’s a thing. Yesterday, an article in the Business section of The New York Times reported on a remarkably tense rivalry that’s been brewing between two companies that create “wine” for cats, Apollo Peak and Pet Winery. The former, which began business two years ago, claims to have a dominion over the cat wine industry. Pet Winery didn't exist until last summer. Both companies have the same, simple philosophy guiding their respective business strategies: A cat is a friend, and should thus be treated in the same way you would a human guest whom you'd offer a sweet, soothing nectar. What’s resulted from this minor conflict is some passive-aggressive ribbing over who, exactly, lays claim to the invention of cat wine.
Uh...what is cat wine?
I know what you're thinking: What is cat wine? The Times reporter describes these drinks as “catnip water,” a phrase so nondescript that it's begging for clarification. So I'll just say it: The drinks are alcohol-free. Apollo Peak’s products are a cocktail of "all-natural organically grown herbs,” fresh beets, and natural preservatives. Most of Pet Winery's offerings are infused with salmon oil and food coloring. Neither company's drinks will make cats loopy and delirious.
Buried lede in this wonderful coverage from the Grey Lady, though: Who feeds their cats cat wine? Um? Hello? Anyone? Yesterday is the first I’ve heard of such an invention as cat wine. The very existence of these two companies presupposes a large market for people who’d feed their kitties these beverages, but I'm not sure I know anyone in my personal life who belongs to this demographic.
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I understand the appeal of such a product: Scoop some Purina from a can and pour some beet juice for Bella. A nice malt for Mittens. A classy kitty demands a classy beverage. But I don’t know a single cat owner who feeds their cat wine. Do you belong to this group I'm not convinced exists? Are you a cat owner who feeds their cat an intoxicant of this ilk? Please let me know.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.