With multinational companies like Purina mass producing cheap cat food in places like China, where controls are limited even for products meant for human consumption, many people are beginning to go back to the basics for their pets. If you would like to surprise your kitty with a wonderful treat, or even transition entirely to homemade kitty food, consider these guidelines, recipes, books and websites 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, in general aggravates the tummies of many of our animal companions, not just cats. Some other ingredients to avoid in homemade cat food include:
- Raw Egg whites
While the above ingredients must be avoided, any regular cat food diet must also include a number of ingredients, but especially animal protein. You may be okay being 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% meat protein in order to acquire enough essential amino acids such as 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 important, so you should not just feed your cat liver or straight fish on a daily basis. The other essential ingredients include:
Not only does animal fat make food tastier, this essential ingredients is also mandatory for healthy skin and fur, as well the circulatory and urinary systems. Kittens need about 35% fat while adult cats thrive on a diet of about 30% fat.
Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio (Ca:P):
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. Veternarian Dr. Pierson is a supporter of grinding up bone herself and says it is much easier than it sounds.
Homemade cat food will ideally be 10% to 30% water weight.
All good recipes for felines should contain less than 10% carbs.
Next: 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 carbs (choose one: cooked pasta, white rice, barley, oatmeal, peas)
- 83 grams of cooked animal protein (whole meat chicken, lamb, rabbit, beef, pork, tuna, 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 everything together. Make 6-7 balls and then pat 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 get out two plates, for kitty and you.
- 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, peas
Sautee the rabbit chunks in the olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs. Add the stock water and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and place in a medium-low oven until cooked through. Add the chopped vegetable and peas and return to the oven for a another 45 minutes. Let cool, then give to kitty.
- 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 ingredients together and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, and discard after three days.
Next: More resources for making your own cat food
If you search online you will find dozens of recipes for homemade cat food as well as tips and warnings. The most thorough discussion that I found was at CatInfo.org, run by Lisa A Pierson, DMV, where she does warn 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, she says, to make catfood, but you must do your homework and you should not add or omit ingredients from a balanced vet-recommended recipe.
Of course, if you are providing a supplemental treat or just an occasional meal along side a commercial food diet, there is less concern for not getting the recipe or balance of nutrients exactly right. Personally, I am in the latter category as I have enough trouble trying to get my kids fed 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 the well-research website CatInfo.org.
For a discussion on the benefits and risks of raw versus cooked also visit CatInfo.org
If you try any of the above recipes, have experience already with homemade cat food or have another recipe, please share your perspective in the comment area below.