These days, there’s a good chance the content of your cat’s bowl has been mass-produced by a multinational company, like Purina. But factories are often located in countries with limited controls — even for products intended for human consumption. As a result, many people are returning to the basics for their pets.
If you would like to surprise your kitty with a wonderful treat — or even transition entirely to homemade cat food — consider these guidelines, recipes and resources as a starting point.
Ingredients to avoid
As tasty as a chocolate-covered mouse may sound, this is definitely a no-no for kitty. Chocolate generally aggravates the tummies of many animal companions, not just cats. Some other ingredients to avoid in homemade cat food include:
- Raw egg whites
While the above ingredients should be avoided, any regular cat food diet must also include a number of ingredients — especially animal protein.
You may be completely healthy as a vegan, but your cat certainly will not thrive on a diet of tempeh and tofu!
Your cat is a carnivore and there is no way around this evolutionary fact. Cats need between 60 and 80 percent meat protein to acquire enough essential amino acids, including taurine, arginine, lysine and cysteine. Not getting enough taurine, for example, will make your kitty blind.
The protein in your cat’s diet should come from chicken — or other poultry — beef, pork, rabbit, fish or liver. Liver is especially important because it is chock-full of vitamin A, and cats cannot produce this vitamin on their own. Variety is critical, so you should not exclusively feed your cat liver or fish on a daily basis.
Not only does animal fat make food tastier for your cat, but this essential ingredients is also mandatory for healthy skin and fur, as well the circulatory and urinary systems. Kittens need about 35 percent fat, while adult cats thrive on a diet of about 30 percent fat.
Calcium to phosphorus ratio:
The ratio between calcium and phosphorus should be 1 part calcium to to 1.3 parts phosphorus. The easiest way to accomplish this ratio is to add calcium supplements.
Commercial cat food usually uses bone meal. If you choose to use bone meal, only use a product meant for human consumption, not one intended for gardening. Veterinarian Dr. Pierson grinds up bone herself and says it is much easier than it sounds.
Homemade cat food will ideally be 10 percent to 30 percent water weight.
All good recipes for felines should contain less than 10 percent carbohydrates.
Recipes to try
Basic Cat Food
from Ecolife: A guide to Green living
- 1/4 teaspoon olive oil or salmon oil
- 2.7 grams of feline vitamin/mineral supplement
- 30 grams of potato, cooked without skin
- 50 grams of carbohydrates — choose one: cooked pasta, white rice, barley, oatmeal or peas
- 83 grams of cooked animal protein, such as whole meat chicken, lamb, rabbit, beef, pork, tuna or salmon
Mix all of the ingredients together — a blender works really well for this purpose — and store the food in the fridge until needed.
from Healthy Recipes for Pets
- 1 can tuna
- 1/2 cup boiled rice
- 1/4 cup pureed liver
- 2-3 sprigs parsley chopped
Drain the tuna and mix all ingredients together. Make six to seven balls and then form them into patties. Store in the fridge, and serve to your cat. This is one cat treat recipe that your feline friend won’t be finicky about!
from the book “Natural Cat Care” by Christopher Day:
This meal is also good enough for human consumption, so feel free to get out two plates!
- Rabbit meat — wild or domestic — boned and cut into small pieces
- A little olive oil
- A few springs of parsley, rosemary, marjoram and thyme
- Vegetable stock — unsalted, so best home-prepared
- Sweet potato, carrot, celery, leek, turnip and peas
Sautée the rabbit chunks in olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs. Add the stock water, and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and place in a medium to low oven until cooked through. Add the chopped vegetables and return to the oven for a another 45 minutes. Let cool, then dish out to your cat.
- 1 can salmon — or fresh salmon
- 1 tablespoon cooked, mashed broccoli
- 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon brewer’s yeast
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir together and serve. Keep any leftovers refrigerated, and discard after three days.
also from LovetoKnowCats
- 1 can sardines in oil
- 2 tablespoons of grated carrot
- 1/3 cup cooked oatmeal
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mash together and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, and discard after three days.
If you search online, you will find dozens of recipes for homemade cat food, as well as tips and warnings. I found the most thorough discussion at CatInfo.org, run by Lisa A Pierson, DMV.
Pierson warns that if you decide to provide homemade cat food to your cat as its primary diet, you must do it right or not do it at all. It is not difficult to make cat food, she says, but you must do your homework. Make sure you don’t add or omit ingredients from a balanced vet-recommended recipe.
Of course, if you are providing a supplemental treat or just an occasional meal alongside a commercial food diet, there is less concern about not achieving the proper balance of nutrients. Personally, I am in the latter category, as I have enough trouble trying to feed my kids a balanced, healthy diet!
Some great books to reference as you explore the options for homemade cat food include:
- “Dr. Pitcairn’s Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.” Richard Pitcairn, DVM, and Susan Pitcairn. Rodale Press. ISBN 0875962432.
- “Natural Cat Care.” Celeste Yarnall. Available from www.CelestialPets.com
- “Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative.” Donald R. Strombeck, DVM. Iowa State University Press. ISBN 0813821495.
For a discussion on the cost — and savings! — of making your own cat food, visit CatInfo.org. The well-researched website also includes a discussion on the benefits and risks of raw versus cooked cat food.
If you try any of the above recipes, have previous experience with homemade cat food or know another recipe, please share your perspective in the comment area below.
Photo Credit: Shubhankar Sharma/Unsplash