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Interview with Barf & Cat Nutritionist Expert Jessica Jungmann

Focused on Nutrition and Well-Being of Cats

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

8 years ago I came to my adopted city Hamburg for my studies and then decided to stay here. I love this city with the Harbours’ piers and docks, the parks, the wonderful ships and the Alster river.

I live together with my boyfriend and my two cats in a small apartment in the east part of the city.

In 2017 I decided to found Miezenhaps. I must say that I am someone who like to challenge myself. If I put my mind into something, I do it. Especially when my heart is set on it and it involves the mission to improve the cat world a little bit.

My family always supports my plans and I am infinitely grateful for that! Even if they are not here in Hamburg, they still give me an incredible amount of strength! My boyfriend is always by my side and helps me whenever he can. I consider myself so lucky to have all the support from friends, family and many wonderful people around me. I thank you all!

2. Why did you decide to become a cat nutritionist? How did you started it all?

I always found nutrition an interesting topic. That is why after finishing high school and taking a gap year, I decided to study to become an ecotrophologist. Because of my love for cats and wanting the best for my own cats I decided to focus on animal nutrition.

The whole thing started from my own search for the right nutrition for my first cat Malou. She had just moved in and had skin problems. Since the food recommended by the vet was not of any use, I started to look further into cat nutrition and BARF. I was so enthusiastic about these topics that I decided to do several trainings on it and continued later on to train myself to soak up all the needed cat nutrition knowledge.

Through the study of ecotrophology I gained a lot of knowledge on the topic already. I later decided to specialise on cat nutrition and barfing as a special focus, which was not difficult for me. I have noticed that this area is unfortunately still not given the enough attention it deserves in the market, even if every owner wants the best for their cat. That is how Miezenhaps was born.

3. What is the vision behind Miezenhaps?

Through Miezenhaps I would like to support all cat owners who have problems with their cat´s nutrition and are looking for the right food choice for them.

Over and over I get to hear the sentence "My cat is something special when it comes to food". That is not quite true. You are not alone. This is exactly what is typical for cats. Each one is an individual, but most of them are just special. This is the normal cat madness which has a name - neophobic eater!

With my cat barf menus it is not different. I can say with certainty that 80% of cats turn up their noses when they are fed this specific food. But I do not worry about that. Because that is normal at the beginning.

That is why I want to educate cat owners about it through my service & company, while also doing something good for the environment.

With every Miezenhaps product, there is a focus placed on regionality, sustainability and climate protection.

4. What makes you different from other providers?

I don't just want to sell my food or my services. I want to solve my customers' problems.

What pleases one person does not have to be the perfect solution for another. For example, BARF is great in my opinion, but it doesn't have to be the optimal product for every customer and that is totally fine. There are many options for other healthy diets. The most important part is to pay attention to the composition of the food.

I don't sell something that I don't stand behind 100%. My BARF menus are composed of the way I feed my cats.

Now let’s talk about the environment. I offer my menus only in the center area of Hamburg. The reason for that is: I use a glass deposit system for the food. It works just like with the milk bottles in the past. Miezenhaps comes and exchanges empty for full.

5. What do you like most about your work?

The different experiences I have. I always see an opportunity for development and improvement for me, the product, but also for my customers. Every day I learn an enormous amount of new things; entrepreneurially and personally. I also share my profession and passion with cats. Can there be anything more perfect?! Just saying because I am a cat-lady.

6. Please tell us a little bit about the barfing subject. Why do you recommend barfing to cat owners?

In my opinion BARF is one of the most natural and original ways of feeding cats. Roughly spoken it is the feeding of raw meat, offal, even bones and some vegetables. No mouse included, but a more balanced prey that is close and definitely species-appropriate.

Furthermore, I do not constantly eat canned ravioli or chips. My cat should not have to do that either. She got teeth from nature, so she should be allowed to use them even as a house cat. Her whole body function, the digestive tract and her metabolism is geared towards using mainly animal proteins, i.e. meat. I think this is one of the several good reasons.

7. What is the most difficult aspect of the business?

There are quite a few. For example, to compete against the "big competitors" who always push down the prices. Everybody knows the great commercials of the well-known manufacturers, which advertise their food in the highest tones which seem affordable for everyone. One is then naturally measured or compared to them and immediately regarded as expensive.

In addition one must battle only to obtain a name and a position in the jungle of the whole feed manufacturers. If you have less financial means than others in the industry, this is not an easy task. But don't worry, I am tough!

Another challenge is that consulting is often taken for granted and free of charge. However, this is precisely where a great deal of experience and well-grounded education is needed. To convey this is not always easy because unfortunately many services and valuable knowledge are often given away for free or for little money. In order to keep a company running, you have to earn money, otherwise you are quickly out of business or can never finance yourself.

One last point, but one that is very close to my heart, is the customer himself. He or she should realise that the job description of cat nutrition consulting is important. I would like to help not letting it get to that point, and if it does, I would like to be there to support. But since I cannot do magic, I need the whole support of the pet owner.

8. Do you own pets yourself?

Of course! I cannot imagine a life without cats anymore. My pride and joy are my two fluffy bottoms Johnny Boy and Malou. They are also the figureheads for Miezenhaps and have to go through one or other "photo shoot".

9.  What do you do when you need a break? What is your favourite place in Hamburg?

When I need a break, I like to sit in front of the TV or listen to a radio play. Crime stories are my favourites. I also go for long walks with my boyfriend and go for an ice cream. It is nothing special, but then I disconnect, let the world be and erase all other thoughts from my head for that moment.

I do yoga at home to calm my mind and recharge my batteries. Of course I hope to stay a little bit fit by doing this.

My favourite place in Hamburg is my apartment, to be more precise my bed. For me there is nothing better than cuddling comfortably in bed with the cats.

10. Which saying best describes your life motto?

Falling down, getting up, straightening the crown, walking on.

In my opinion, that describes it best. You have to overcome many challenges in life that make you stumble or even fall down every now and then. But where it goes down, it also goes up. So the most sensible thing is to just keep on walking with your head held high.

I also find the saying "Through the wall with your head" appropriate. I'll just leave that for now ;)

“Falling down, getting up, straightening the crown, walking on.

You have to overcome many challenges in life that make you stumble or even fall down every now and then. But where it goes down, it also goes up.

- Jessica Miezenhaps Gründerin

11. What or who are your greatest inspirations?

I had to think about this question a bit. There is no single person, but I admire all women who believe in themselves and make a difference! It is often the case that other women entrepreneurs were the ones who motivated me to go on and inspire me with their actions.

12. Are there any pet accounts you recommend pet lovers and owners to follow or check out?

Pets Ahoi of course!

Otherwise I can recommend the podcast of dear Claudia aka Talking Cats. A super likeable power woman with great topics.

13. Share with us a book or a blog that you recommend to cat owners or pet owners.

I cannot think of any specific one at the moment, but I mostly like to watch funny and cute cat videos on Facebook and Instagram :)

14. Which is the best tip you recommend to pet owners?

Believe in your pet and listen to it!

You are its care-giver and turn it into the wonderful being it is.

15. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I am working to ensure that Miezenhaps is known to every cat owner in Hamburg and has many (cat) customers. I would like to feed a lot of hanseatic cats and help many cat owners choose the best nutrition option for their cats.

I also dream of a Miezenhaps shop in Hamburg, where you can get everything you need for species-appropriate cat nutrition. Maybe we can even do it additionally in another big city. In any case I am curious what the future will bring!

You can find more information here.

We thank Jessica Jungmann for the interview.

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