My 5000th post: Henri sells out

I had hoped to post something a bit more weighty than this for post #5000 (it’s been a good run, I think), but I suppose the combination of cats and unbridled capitalism is appropriate.  So, on to Henri, the formerly existentialist cat. . .

It was too good to be true. Along with Henri’s latest (and shortest) YouTube video, we have this notice:

Henri has been commissioned by Friskies to explore the phenomenon of cat food boredom, for the benefit of all catkind. This disappointment will not stand. Look out for Part 2, coming very soon.

And, sure enough, Henri suggests here that feline ennui might be dispelled by. . . Friskies!  He’s even shown with the huge Friskies gift basket that induced him to sell out (I presume his owner gets a nice dollop of cash as well).  There will apparently be four of these videos. Oy vey. Watch and weep:

I’m not a big fan of Friskies, and didn’t feed it to my cat. If you look at the ingredients in a typical can, it contains a lot of grains and “meat by-products.” In contrast, a high-quality wet food, like Core Grain-free Food, contains real meat (not “meat by-products) and no grains. (Go here for a good guide to cat nutrition.)

Would Jean-Paul Sartre, were he here today, make commercials for McDonald’s?

h/t: Michael


  1. Grania Spingies
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on reaching this milestone!
    It’s definitely been worth it for your readers.

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      Congratulations! Thank you for all great posts.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 1, 2013 at 6:24 am | Permalink


  2. Posted March 1, 2013 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    “Meat byproducts” may or may not be suitable. But low grade meat – “lips’n’arseholes” – is quite suitable, because cats do eat the whole of the prey in the wild. My cat is an ex-stray, and had learnt not to be fussy; I did see him catch a mouse and devour it, leaving only a tail.

    I don’t know about the US – but in the UK, “complete cat food” is a term that means that a normal cat could live healthily on the stuff. (I’m sure there’s a bunch of qualifiers on that.) “Complementary cat food” means “candy for cats” and is quite definitely treats-only.

  3. gravityfly
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Jerry!
    As for Henri—such betrayal! Someone tell me this is just a joke!

  4. Martin
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Yes, congratulations, and thanks for years of interesting, informative often amusing postings.

    I see this video as ironic, and would like to think that Henri is playing a deeper game here. But probably not.

    Would Van Gogh make commercials for Inter-Flora?

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Well, he (Van Gogh) couldn’t advertise spectacles.

      Yes, congratulations, Jerry, and many, many thanks.

      • bric
        Posted March 1, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        Well maybe pince-nez?

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted March 2, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

          Or hearing aids? (yes, I know).

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted March 2, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Or just “Flora” made from sunflower oil.

  5. Occam
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Here’s to the next 10000 — banzai l’chaim!

  6. Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Congrats on the 5000th post, every single one I have read has been interesting! (I am even starting to like cats a bit…) Don’t know how you find the time to do it. I look forward to the next 5000.

    • TJR
      Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink


      Except the bit about cats.

  7. Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Judas Henri! 30 pieces of fish filet eh?

    And what did you do with The White Idiot? Is that part of the deal you cut with the Friskies corporate monster?

  8. Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Jerry

    Here’s to 5,000 more posts [& your new book whenever]

  9. Ron McLaughin
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Here’s a second veterinary opinion on cat food, relative to the web page commercial that you linked to by Lisa Pierson, DVM. I haven’t read her book nor have I paid her for consultation advertised on the web page. Dry cat food is fine if it contains the right nutrients. Cats don’t care biologically where essential nutrients come from as long as the preparation tastes good. Water is water and cats can drink water, and if they do so, dry food is fine. True, a mostly animal source diet is best for cats because as carnivores they evolved eating rations (prey) most likely to be nutritionally adequate. Cats didn’t evolve by selection for eating either canned or bagged food, not much yet anyway. Totally animal source rations, and especially all “meat” diets are not nutritionally appropriate. All muscle meat is profoundly unbalanced, and raw meat is also dangerous as a source of parasites and infectious disease. Some plant source nutrients are good for cats, and diversity achieved by their inclusion along with animal source material helps assure a balanced diet. Wild-type cat rations include whatever is inside and the hide, hair, and feathers on the outside. What are the moral implications of killing one animal to feed another?

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Dry cat food is fine if it contains the right nutrients.

      That’s the thing. It’s lacking in the single-most important dietary nutrient for land-dwelling mammals: water.

      And housecats are only a few thousand years removed from their desert-dwelling ancestors. Those ancestors didn’t have much access to free-flowing water, and got almost all of their water intake from their prey. As a result, neither they nor housecats have very much of a thirst instinct.

      I strongly recommend feeding only wet food to a cat, and to mix in with the food at least a tablespoon per meal of supplemental water (in addition to whatever is in the food itself). If the result is a bit on the soupy side, that’s okay; the cat will still eat it up. Go for the wettest mix that the cat doesn’t mind eating.

      All muscle meat is profoundly unbalanced

      That’s why quality commercial raw pet food is a mixture of muscle, fat, bone, and organs in proportions similar to the animals they come from.

      You can make your own raw pet food as well, of course. There are recipes, and the respected ones call for a similar mixture.

      and raw meat is also dangerous as a source of parasites and infectious disease.

      Not if the raw pet food uses human-grade meats…and you would be horrified at the huge bacterial load present in kibble.

      …which, incidentally, is why you most emphatically don’t want to get kibble wet: the resulting bacterial explosion will make your animal very sick.

      You may be aware that there’s an epidemic of kidney disease in cats, as well as urinary tract infections, especially ones resulting from crystals developing in urine. All those diseases are caused by chronic dehydration, and can be prevented and treated by ensuring the cat gets ample water. You’re only going to reliably keep a cat properly hydrated by ensuring that the cat gets the water with the rest of the food, because the cat isn’t going to drink enough on its own otherwise.



      P.S. Conga rats, Jerry! b&

      P.P.S. Henri’s sellout is inducing existential angst in me, now…. b&

  10. Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    The whole tone of the video is wrong ~ Henri has suddenly become too self-knowing. He’s no longer the narcissist fool & it was wrong that he is shown rewarded at the end of the clip ~ where’s the ennui in that? Henri is supposed to almost achieve, but ultimately come up short at the last claw swipe.

    Also we see dry cat food being rebuffed & it isn’t clear that it’s not a Friskies product being shovelled into the bowl

    It’s a very poor marketing strategy to dis the competition. By all means say your product is the cat’s pyjamas, but leave it at that

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 2, 2013 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      Who cares about the marketing strategy. Given Henri’s usual existential gloom, having him praising The Product would be totally out of character.

      As ads go, I liked it (and most ads I hate). As a Henri video, and given that Henri and Braden created the character and so are fully entitled to ‘sell out’ if they want, I found it entertaining enough. The reference to Friskies (with the implication that Henri has sold out to them) was subtle enough to get nby.

  11. David Duncan
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I take it “Henri” will no longer be the secret word at book signings…

  12. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Happy 50 hundredth, Jerry.
    OpenSUSE has decided to shield my eyes from the disgrace of the Ennui One – no Free Flash plugins could be found.

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      There is an opt-in trial of HTML5 video on YouTube. If you are using a supported browser, you can choose to use the HTML5 player instead of the Flash player for most videos

      Go here: to see what browsers are supported. If after you opt in you don’t like it, then simply return to the above link & opt out.

      I’m unsure if one needs a Youtube/Google account to join the trial.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 1, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        That works for *some* videos ; not Henri’s.
        But in other news, I finally tunred that damned touchpad off, so any mis-spellings are mine, not my thumb’s.
        ‘xinput –set-prop “PS/2 Generic Mouse” “Device Enabled” 0’
        Should be quite generic. If you’re running X. To mis-quote Torchwood, “Beyond KDE, above the Gnome!”

        • Notagod
          Posted March 3, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          Appropriate to the topic of “selling out” as I feel that both KDE and Gnome are a mistaken path of following Windblows that severely complicated and limited the users choices and understanding of their friendly CPU and associates bits.

          Running OpenSUSE to get to X seems like an unusual choice, are you then using the server version or maybe a customized package selection?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 4, 2013 at 3:24 am | Permalink

            Since we seem to have digressed to the One True Operating System (notwithstanding it has almost as many flavours as Xtianity), I’ll note that Henri plays fine in my Debian Linuxbox running either Galeon (Mozilla clone) or Opera.

            I’m sure the Flash plugin wouldn’t pass Saint RMS’s freedom test, and Opera certainly wouldn’t, but they are available. Maybe Debian is more willing to do a deal with the devil than Suse.

  13. aldoleopold
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    A boarded veterinary internal medicine specialist explain it to me this way: “Feeding your cat Friskies is equivalent to feeding it McDonalds every day. Don’t do it!”

  14. S
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Read the posts every day and learn something new most days! Thank you for keeping on.

  15. Posted March 1, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    After about 10 seconds, when the Friskies logo appeared, I was filled with despair, a despair relieved only by loathing. I could not go on, and had to turn away.

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      I hear that in French (my own cod-French), and in Henri’s voice.

  16. Fastlane
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Our cat won’t eat wet food. She’ll only eat kibble, so we make sure she always has fresh water. She drinks plenty, though, and seems just fine. We tried her on grain free kibble for a while, but being long haired, she needs the slight extra bit of fiber from grains (yes, we also keep grass for her, which helps too). The hairballs were really bad, and as much as she was throwing up, we went back to the not pure meat product food. She’s quite healthy, though, and very active. Rarely throws up hairballs, but even with ~1 hour/day of brushing, it happens.

  17. Ken Pidcock
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Well, I say good on Mr. Braden. He invented a novel and thoroughly engaging entertainment. I’m glad he’s been able to monetize it. And, for all we know, that cat’s crazy about Friskies.

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      That cat probably is crazy about Frikies.

      Thing is, that’s like a child being crazy about McDonald’s.

      And just as unhealthy for either.

      As a rare treat a few times a year, sure, no problem, knock yourself out.

      But every day?


  18. Jiten
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Congratulations! Here’s to the next 5000! I love coming here everyday because 1) your posts are on interesting topics and 2) you write so well. You already know how to write like what Steven Pinker is going say in his forthcoming book.

  19. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    swimming cat

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 2, 2013 at 12:10 am | Permalink

      What cracked me up was not the swimming feline but the ape-descendant news anchor totally failing to keep a straight face.

  20. Mary Canada
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on 5000. As per Henri, c’est la vie.

  21. Explicit atheist
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Only grain free, no meat byproducts, high end food for the cat, but processed white grain breads and cakes, butter, soda, fatty deli meats, and the like in giant servings for Jerry. Good for Jerry’s cat, not so good for Jerry.

    • Posted March 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Jerry repeatedly makes it clear that his extravagant food posts aren’t how he regularly eats, that those’re indulgences he only partakes of when traveling to exotic places where that’s the only chance he’ll have to eat those foods.

      And I wholeheartedly approve of such indulgences.

      I wouldn’t want to live a life where I only, or even primarily, ate such over-the-top foods. But I’d be even less happy if I never ate such over-the-top foods.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make myself a chicken salad sandwich for dinner. The bread is whole wheat sourdough I made yesterday; the chicken is from soup I made the day before; and the mayo I also made the day before from an egg from one of Mom’s hens. The celery, lettuce, nuts, cheese, spices, etc., will all be store-bought. I trust that will meet with your approval?

      Oh, yes — I’ll be toasting the bread in the drippings from this morning’s bacon. Is that a problem?



      • gbjames
        Posted March 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Jeeze. It’s Friday, for heaven’s sake. Don’t you know it is fish fry night?

        • Posted March 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          Hmpf. Didn’t know.

          I suppose I could do tuna salad instead of chicken salad…but I really want to eat up the chicken while it’s still fresh….

          Tell you what. I’ll compromise. I’ve got some of Trader Joe’s Tuna for Cats. How ’bout I give Baihu a dollop of that with his dinner and call it a day?


    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted March 1, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      Sweet Jebus, I almost never eat like that (and only on trips), and I’ve made that clear repeatedly. But the Leisure Facists and Food Police always come out.

      I am not going to apologize for my diet, nor will I tolerate the Leisure Facists reproving me on my website.

      • Posted March 1, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        You know, maybe you could do a food post of you eating a brown bag lunch with a PBJ sandwich, some celery and carrot sticks, and a glass of water, on the vanishingly slim chance that it’ll shut up the Food Nazis….


      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted March 2, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Jerry, I work to a similar system: most of my life is spent on a low calorie diet, just so that when I go on holiday I can enjoy every local temptation I can find. Eating is the major part of any holiday for me. Typically I have to lose about 10-12 pounds after a fortnight’s (sorry, two weeks’) holiday, but it’s worth it.

        Enjoy when you can!

  22. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Jerry on your 5,000th post. Any idea what a histogram would look like with the categories science/religion/philosophy/cats/other?

  23. Uommibatto
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I would pay to be able to see Jean-Paul Sartre doing a commercial for McDonald’s… “hell is… la malbouffe!”

    Have you ever heard Orson Welles do his commercial for frozen peas? Google it if you haven’t, it’s wonderful!

  24. Diane G.
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    5000. What a milestone!

    Thank you, Jerry.

  25. Posted March 2, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Alec Guiness (apparently) in his autobiography mentions a small child coming up to him and saying that he’d seen Star Wars 100 times. Guinness (somewhat untactfully) replied that he’d give the kid an autograph if he promised to never watch the movie again.

    Maybe Henri too will come to regret his Friskies commercials.

  26. jwthomas
    Posted March 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Congrats to Jerry for his 5000th post and for recommending CORE cat food. I’ve never fed it to my roommate Max but I’ve read many good things about it. Max was weaned to Innova’s EVO about six years ago and refuses anything else (yes, I tried to get him to eat CORE – it’s cheaper) but he will barely deign to smell it. He’ll eat wet food, but in such dainty amounts that he never finishes even the smallest can before it begins to spoil. He gets his water from a burbling cat fountain placed by his feed bowl; he loves drinking from it and from kitchen and bathroom faucets. Running water does encourage cats to drink more often. Six years on an EVO dry food diet and his vet still can’t find anything to complain about. His (dry) Greenies morning treats help clean his teeth, and his Swheat Scoop litter is easily disposed of. No, I don’t get paid for any of these recommendations. I pass them on from here:

  27. Posted March 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    WEIT is a fabulous website! Congrats–and also to Matthew, Greg, and all your guest bloggers. Obviously the reason why you can do the seemingly impossible and keep churning out such a volume of high-quality posts is because you eat the way you do on your trips. 🙂

  28. madscientist
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    Ce’st une catastrophe! – Henri that is. The housecat here won’t touch Friskies.

  29. Notagod
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    My thanks to Dr. Coyne and all the guest posters. You have all brightened my days.

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