The Mysterious Disappearance of Friskies Canned Cat Food


Friskies cat food first appeared in the 1930s as a dry dog food product. In the 1950s, Friskies expanded into wet cat food products packed in cans, which grew enormously popular over the next few decades. Canned Friskies varieties like Tasty Blends and Pâtés were pantry staples for cat owners, beloved for their soft textures and savory flavors.

According to the Friskies website, canned cat food helped establish Friskies as “America’s premier cat food brand.” However, over time Friskies began transitioning their focus to sealed pouches and away from traditional cans. Though initially met with skepticism from loyal canned cat food buyers, pouches eventually surpassed cans in popularity thanks to their improved freshness and convenience.

Today, the nostalgia for the classic Friskies canned cat food varieties remains strong among long-time cat owners. However, the brand has fully adapted to the pouches that now dominate the wet cat food market.

Rise and Fall of Canned Cat Food

Canned cat food exploded in popularity in the mid-20th century with brands like Friskies leading the way. Cans were seen as superior to dry kibble for providing cats with needed moisture and soft, palatable textures they enjoyed. As one source notes, canned cat food had “exploded in popularity” by the 1970s.

However, by the 1980s, pouches were emerging as a more convenient, less messy alternative to canned food. Brands like Friskies pivoted their offerings from cans to pouches, sensing a change in consumer demand. While still popular, canned cat food began a steady decline in market share.

Friskies Pivot to Pouches

In the 1990s, Friskies pioneered the use of foil pouches for cat food, marketing them as a convenient and mess-free way to feed cats compared to traditional canned food. As explained on the Friskies website, “The Carnation Company launched the Friskies brand in the western US. Beginning as dry dog food, the brand expanded to wet dog food in 1948.” The pouches were seen as the next evolution in wet cat food, easier for cat owners to handle and store.

Friskies heavily marketed the pouches around ideas like “mess-free” and “on-the-go convenience.” The packaging switch aligned with increasing number of owners wanting low-maintenance options. Over the next decade, Friskies gradually phased out many canned cat food formulas as they pivoted to focus on the highly successful foil pouches instead.

Impact on Cat Owners

Many cat owners were upset with the move away from canned cat food and feel deep nostalgia for Friskies canned formulas. Canned cat food provides moisture which is important for hydration and digestive health. When Friskies discontinued many canned varieties, cat owners became concerned that pouches don’t offer the same benefits. A passionate community of Friskies canned cat food enthusiasts even started an online petition urging the brand to bring back their favorite canned recipes. As one petition organizer wrote, “Friskies was known for their canned food. We want Friskies to hear us and bring back the canned foods cats love.” source While pouches may be more convenient, many owners feel they lack the essential moisture and texture cats need. The brand earned decades of trust and loyalty with their canned offerings, so this abrupt shift left a hole in the market according to devoted users. There is clearly an opportunity and demand here if Friskies brought back some of its discontinued canned classics.

Canned Food Today

Many other brands besides Friskies continue to produce canned cat food today. Canned food provides important benefits for cats, especially for hydration and urinary tract health. The high moisture content of canned food helps cats meet their relatively high fluid needs. Dehydration is a common problem for cats eating only dry food. Canned food provides much needed hydration that helps flush out their urinary tract and prevent issues like urinary crystals or FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease) [1].

While canned food tends to be more expensive than dry food per ounce, cats generally eat less of it at each meal. Owners find they can feed smaller portion sizes of canned food compared to dry kibble. The key is ensuring cats get adequate overall nutrition while taking advantage of the unique benefits provided by canned food.


Friskies Canned Options

While Friskies has largely moved away from canned cat food, there are still a few canned formulas available, mainly focused on the Signature Blends and Special Diet lines. However, finding Friskies canned food in stores can be difficult compared to the wide availability of Friskies pouches.

FriskiesSpecialized Diet line of canned foods is still actively produced, providing options for sensitive stomachs, urinary tract health, and weight control. Flavors like Ocean Fish and Salmon Dinner are formulated for cats with dietary needs and sensitivities.

Additionally, a few of the classic Friskies pâtés and grilled dinners remain in production in limited varieties. Formulas like Savory Chicken and Turkey Dinner are sold primarily in small cases through online retailers, making them harder to find on physical store shelves compared to Friskies’ pouches. According to consumer reviews, finding Friskies canned cat food requires persistence and checking at multiple stores, as the canned options are produced in limited supply focusing on specialty diet formulas.

Overall, while Friskies has drastically reduced their canned food offerings, cats who are accustomed to pâtés or grilled dinners do have some options to choose from. However, the availability is relatively scarce compared to the brand’s pouches, so owners need to actively search to locate the remaining Friskies canned varieties.


Outlook for the Future

It seems unlikely that Friskies will revive their full range of canned cat food options according to market research firm Allied Market Research (source). The rise of pouches has captured a large share of the wet cat food market, leading major brands like Friskies to focus their efforts there.

However, there may be opportunities for smaller, niche brands to fill the gap left by Friskies’ departure from canned cat food according to Future Market Insights (source). Specialty canned foods and limited ingredient formulas could appeal to cat owners still searching for canned options.

Pet food makers are also exploring alternatives like broths and toppers that come in cans but can be mixed with dry food. These products allow brands to leverage the benefits of metal cans while offering consumers more versatility according to FactMR (source). The niche for canned cat food remains, but innovative new formats may be required to fully tap into it.

Tips for Canned Cat Food Fans

Cat owners who prefer to feed their cats wet food have had to get creative during the shortage. Here are some tips to help locate canned cat food:

Try calling smaller, independent pet stores or boutique cat food brands. They may have more flexibility with their inventory and suppliers compared to large chains. Ask if they can special order certain formulas or brands for you.

When you do find canned formulas your cat likes, stock up on extra cases if you can afford it. This ensures you’ll have a supply on hand if it disappears from shelves again.

Consider alternative hydration methods like adding water to dry food or feeding broths/tunas in water. While canned food is ideal, adding moisture to any diet is beneficial for cats.

Check online sites like Chewy or Amazon for availability of canned cat food. Be willing to buy in bulk or sign up for autoship if it secures the formula you want.

Ask your veterinarian for samples of prescription canned foods, which are less likely to be affected by shortages. They may be able to provide cases until your preferred brand is reliably back in stock.

The Pouch Revolution

In recent years, cat food pouches have rapidly gained in popularity as pet owners increasingly prioritize convenience and minimal mess when feeding their cats. Major cat food brands like Friskies have pivoted heavily towards pouches and tout them as the packaging format of the future.

According to a market research report, the global cat food pouches market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.87% from 2023-2029 as more consumers opt for pouches over canned food (source). Pouches are seen as easier to store, transport, and use versus cans.

Brands have innovated with different pouch styles, spouts, and zipper closures to improve convenience and prolong freshness. Stand-up pouches allow cats to eat directly from the pouch. Some pouches have zipper resealable closures to keep unused food fresh while others have a tear-off top. These innovations make pouches a cleaner and less wasteful option compared to cans.


As we’ve seen, Friskies experienced a major shift in their canned cat food business over the past few decades. Though once a household name in canned wet food, they pivoted primarily to pouches as pet owner habits changed. Higher costs and less convenience led many cat owners to swap cans for easy-to-portion pouches.

This shift was driven by the changing preferences of pet owners looking for more affordable and simpler ways to feed their cats. Though cans retain nostalgia for some owners, pouches became the clear choice for most. While Friskies canned varieties dwindled, they continued to innovate on the pouch front.

For those owners with fond memories of feeding their cats canned Friskies, options still remain. Though limited compared to the past, Friskies does still produce some canned wet food. For cats that prefer cans or owners that want to recreate past experiences, these classic recipes connect today’s cats with their ancestors who were raised on Friskies cans.

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