Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards are used to distribute funds for several different government assistance programs in the United States, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). However, whether or not you can buy cat food with an EBT card depends on the specific program through which you receive benefits.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps, is designed to help low-income families purchase food items for human consumption. The goal of SNAP is to ensure that all Americans have access to a nutritionally adequate diet.
SNAP and Pet Food
Unfortunately, according to the rules and regulations set forth by the SNAP program as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, pet food is not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the SNAP program, clearly states that SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy pet foods, soap, paper products, household supplies, grooming items, or cosmetics.
Other Government Assistance Programs and Pet Food
As for other programs like WIC or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), they also have specific rules regarding what can and can’t be purchased. WIC, for example, is a program specifically designed to provide nutritious food items to pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children under the age of five. Therefore, it does not cover pet food.
On the other hand, TANF, also known as cash assistance, is more flexible. It can be used to purchase a wider range of items, possibly including pet food, depending on state regulations. But its primary purpose is to help families achieve self-sufficiency, and it is intended to meet essential needs such as food, shelter, and clothing for people, not pets.
Additional Considerations: Pet Food and Public Assistance
It’s clear that using EBT for pet food can be a complex issue, given the restrictions on public assistance programs. However, there are additional considerations that can help provide a broader understanding of the topic.
The Importance of Pets
Pets, including cats, play a significant role in many people’s lives. They provide companionship, emotional support, and can even contribute to the wellbeing and mental health of their owners. In low-income families, where financial resources are often limited, pets can still play this crucial role. However, the costs of pet ownership, including food, can pose a challenge.
Advocacy for Change
Given the important role pets play in many households, some advocacy groups have called for changes to the rules that prohibit the use of SNAP benefits for pet food. They argue that if an individual or family is in a financial situation that requires assistance for human food, they are likely also struggling to provide for their pets. There has yet to be significant movement on this issue at the federal level, but the conversation is ongoing.
While current regulations prohibit the use of SNAP benefits for pet food, there are resources available to assist individuals and families in need of support for their pets.
Local Animal Shelters and Pet Food Banks
Many local animal shelters and pet rescues operate pet food banks, offering free or low-cost pet food to those in need. Some even provide other pet-related necessities, such as cat litter. The availability of these resources varies by location and the resources of the organization, but they can be a valuable source of support for pet owners facing financial difficulties.
Online Fundraising and Crowdfunding
In recent years, crowdfunding websites have become a popular way to raise money for a variety of causes, including pet care expenses. Websites like GoFundMe allow individuals to set up fundraising campaigns for personal needs, which can include support for pets.
There are non-profit organizations that specifically focus on providing pet food and other supplies to those in need. One example is the Pet Food Stamps program, which operates independently of any government program. Their mission is to provide pet food for pet owners in need.
Top 10 Retailers
|Retailer Name||Location||Cat Food Brand Availability||Online Shopping||EBT Acceptance|
|Walmart||Nationwide||Purina, Meow Mix, Friskies||Yes||Yes|
|Target||Nationwide||Blue Buffalo, Iams, Fancy Feast||Yes||Yes|
|Safeway||West Coast||Royal Canin, Science Diet||Yes||Yes|
|Kroger||Nationwide||Nutro, Wellness, Whiskas||Yes||Yes|
|Publix||Southeast||Hill’s Science, Merrick, Rachael Ray Nutrish||No||Yes|
|Albertsons||Nationwide||Nutrisource, Canidae, I and Love and You||Yes||Yes|
|Aldi||Nationwide||Heart to Tail, Sheba||No||Yes|
|Winn-Dixie||Southeast||9Lives, Evolve, American Journey||Yes||Yes|
|Food Lion||East Coast||Muse, Instinct, Halo||Yes||Yes|
|Piggly Wiggly||Southeast||Beyond, Simply Nourish, Triumph||No||Yes|
Top 10 Cat Food Brands
|Cat Food Brand||Quality||Price Range||Retailer Availability||EBT Acceptance|
|Purina||Mid-range||$10-$50||Walmart, Target, Kroger||Yes|
|Meow Mix||Budget||$5-$20||Walmart, Kroger||Yes|
|Blue Buffalo||Premium||$15-$60||Target, Publix||Yes|
|Royal Canin||Premium||$20-$80||Safeway, Albertsons||Yes|
|Fancy Feast||Mid-range||$10-$40||Target, Safeway||Yes|
|Science Diet||Premium||$20-$80||Safeway, Publix||Yes|
|Rachael Ray Nutrish||Mid-range||$10-$40||Publix, Walmart||Yes|
Top 10 Cat Food Types
|Cat Food Type||Price Range||Dietary Benefits||Retailer Availability||EBT Acceptance|
|Dry Cat Food||$5-$60||Long Shelf Life, Dental Health||Walmart, Target||Yes|
|Wet Cat Food||$10-$70||Hydration, Protein-Rich||Kroger, Safeway||Yes|
|Grain-Free||$15-$80||Digestion, Allergies||Target, Albertsons||Yes|
|Kitten Food||$10-$60||Growth, Nutrition||Walmart, Kroger||Yes|
|Senior Cat Food||$15-$70||Joint Health, Kidney Support||Safeway, Publix||Yes|
|High-Protein||$20-$80||Muscle Maintenance, Energy||Kroger, Albertsons||Yes|
|Low-Carb||$20-$80||Weight Management||Target, Walmart||Yes|
|Organic||$20-$100||No Pesticides, Sustainable||Safeway, Publix||Yes|
|Prescription||$30-$100||Specific Health Conditions||Kroger, Albertsons||Yes|
|Raw or Freeze-Dried||$20-$100||Nutrient-Rich, Palatability||Target, Walmart||Yes|
Top 10 Cities
|City Name||State||Number of EBT-Accepting Retailers||Top Retailer||Cat Food Variety|
|New York||New York||100+||Walmart||High|
Cat Food Purchase Method
|Purchase Method||EBT Eligible||Online Option||Delivery Option||Retailer Availability|
|In-Store Purchase||Yes||No||No||All EBT Accepting Retailers|
|Online Purchase||Yes||Yes||Depends on Retailer||Walmart, Target, Safeway, Kroger|
|Curbside Pickup||Yes||Yes||No||Walmart, Target, Safeway, Kroger|
|Home Delivery||Depends on State and Retailer||Yes||Yes||Walmart, Target, Safeway, Kroger|
|Drive Through||Yes||No||No||Limited Availability|
As of the latest updates available to me in September 2021, EBT cards loaded with SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase cat food. It’s important to stay updated on any changes to these rules by visiting the USDA’s website or the website of your state’s SNAP program. If you’re having trouble affording pet food, there are many nonprofit organizations across the country that provide pet food assistance to those in need. Consider reaching out to local animal shelters, pet food banks, or other charitable organizations in your area for help.