How to Make Your Own Cat Food

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:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Raw egg whites
  • Tomatoes
  • Grapes

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 essentials

Animal protein:
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.

Animal fats:
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.

Water:
Homemade cat food will ideally be 10 percent to 30 percent water weight.

Carbs:
All good recipes for felines should contain less than 10 percent carbohydrates.

Recipes to try

cat

Photo Credit: Jason Howie/Flickr

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.

Tuna Patties
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!

Rabbit Stew
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.

Salmon Delight
from LovetoKnowCats

  • 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.

Sardine Treat
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.

Bon appetit!

Additional resources

cat

Photo Credit: Muhammad Ashiq/Flickr

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

366 comments

Christine J
Christine Jabout a month ago

Good ideas; would save on packaging too. My kitty has to have a specific thyroid diet unfortunately.

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Kelly B
Kelly Bechtold4 months ago

Oh... I just read below comments and maybe not. No wonder my cats are staring at the birds and squirrels all the time...

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Kelly B
Kelly Bechtold4 months ago

I gotta try the fishy stuff, that's awesome! Yeah, been giving canned foods to the cats. That's kinda sad that you gotta discard some of the stuff after a few days, though.

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Melissa A
Melissa Arra4 months ago

Tuna is best to avoid as there is also a possible link to hyperthyroidism in cats which is a rampant health issue for cats these days. Imagine what eating Tuna several times a week would do to your own endocrine system which is larger than a cats. Way too many toxins, heavy metals in Tuna. Best to avoid in canned food as well. And make sure if you're feeding Salmon, it's only wild caught as farmed Salmon is mostly an environmental disaster and the fish are more highly contaminated with PCPs, excessive antibiotics and other contaminants. Not good for humans or animals.

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Richard A
Richard A5 months ago

Thank you for the cat food recipes.

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Past Member
Past Member 5 months ago

READERS BEWARE. I'm disappointed at the amount of starches and vegetables I see in these recipes. That's what we are trying to get away from by making species-appropriate food for our cats at home! The author claims to follow the advice of Dr. Lisa Pierson, one of the best vets to explain home cooking for cats, but deviates immediately. Please talk to her. She's great at explaining this issue.

NO LEEKS! For heaven sakes, cats are not to eat any type of onion!

Also, tuna is a poor choice of protein. It is high on the food chain in the sea and will thus contain more heavy metals than smaller fish. Cats don't naturally catch fish in the wild, anyway. It's acceptable as a treat, but not as a major source of the diet.

Think "birds & rodents." That's a natural diet for small cats. Rabbits are also good sources of animal protein, and I do have two cats that are proven rabbit hunters from their previous outdoor lifestyles.

A consultation with Dr. Pierson is worth every penny. She offers much free advice at catinfo.org as well.

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Aldana W
Aldana W6 months ago

Thanks for all the recipes, books and links, all good references. I will use.

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Jim Ven
Jim V6 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Melania P
Melania Padilla6 months ago

They look delicious! Maybe I'll try someday. Sharing

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Jess B
Jess B6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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