[thrive_drop_caps color=’orange’ style=’2′]M[/thrive_drop_caps]aking homemade cat food is usually described as being very difficult to do, but that’s one of the biggest lies ever told. Feeding your cat anything that you wouldn’t eat yourself is actually very strange, some consider it “inhumane”, and lately more pet owners are turning toward making homemade cat food for their furry friends.
Why? Health reasons. If your cat has a specific health issue, such as a sensitive stomach or any allergy to certain ingredients, making your own cat food at home may be a life saver.
What’s Needed for a Balanced Diet
First of all, you’re going to need to know what a balanced diet for a cat is. The basics are just as important as anything else, so pay attention to this section specifically. To start, cats need a proper amount of protein to ensure that their pH balance is at a healthy level. Protein is needed throughout their lives for development and growth. Cats are carnivores, after all.
Interestingly enough, felines are genetically designed to get the majority of the water needed to survive from raw, fresh food, so it’s natural for them to have a low water intake. However, water is still an important factor in a balanced diet, and there’s much you can do to regulate this properly.
Processed cat food will actually cause dehydration in felines. Dry food and eats that are not homemade has a negative impact on their natural programming and does not encourage their drinking of water, which can bring on multiple health problems.
For example, a cat who only eats processed food typically has urine that is too concentrated. Urethral obstructions, cystitis, and other life-threatening, and very painful, health problems can be found in cats who have only had a diet of dry and processed foods throughout their life.
The best thing for a cat where water is concerned are filtered or well water. Fluoride in the water supply can be a problem for cats, which also adds to concentrated urine, so testing your supply at home for contaminants is your best bet.
Essential Amino Acids and Fatty Acids
Your cat needs all the essential amino acids they can get, a lot of which come from protein sources directly. Taurine, for example, is one of these amino acids that is vital to their health.
Essential fatty acids and oils are also needed for a balanced diet. Fatty acids keep their systems going where metabolic regulation and cell integrity are concerned, which come from both plants and animal sources. Omega-3 and omega-6, for example, are two of the most important fatty acids and oil sources that are needed for a cat’s balanced diet. Fat, in general, is vital to a cat’s health.
Omega-3s, DHA, AA, LA, GLA, CLA, and EPA are all of the essentials within this category that you’re going to want in your feline’s diet.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are crucial to a cat’s diet if it’s to be balanced. For starters, minerals are essential to felines in general and are a large part in the health of their physiological reactions.
Minerals contribute to the formation of their enzymes, their nutrient utilization, oxygen transportation, pH balance, and are stored within their muscle tissue and bones.
Chelated minerals, for example, bind with organic substances within the body to aid in absorbing other vital minerals. Water has elemental minerals that are taken into their bodies, but this can only go such a long way.
Calcium, cobalt, copper, chromium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorous, and sodium are just a few of the many minerals that cats need on a daily basis in order to have a complete, balanced diet.
Vitamins are also very important for a cat. They aid in the health of their bodily functions, regular growth, and the regulation of their metabolism. Vitamins can be classified as either water-soluble or fat vitamins.
For example, vitamins K, E, D, and A are fat-soluble vitamins, while vitamins C and B are complex, water-soluble vitamins. Both groups of vitamins are essential to a balanced diet, which are typically found readily available in most plant sources.
Are Bones Safe to Include?
Because cats need a steady supply of protein for a balanced diet, it’s often questioned whether or not bones are safe to include in homemade cat food, and whether or not they are actually beneficial.
A phosphorus to calcium ratio is very important for cats. Meat gives them the phosphorus they need, while bones give them a source of calcium. Calcium, for one, is vital to their overall health, so the next time you spot your cat eating a mouse or some other small prey, let them eat their fill. They are getting both calcium and phosphorus from small prey, such as mice and birds.
Therefore, bones are actually very beneficial for a cat’s diet, but you have to remember that they must be used in moderation with homemade cat food. Sticking to a strict recipe when using bones in homemade cat food is very important.
Check out this amazing infographic from Vet-medic.com:
What Foods to Include for a Balanced Diet
Just like including the vital minerals, nutrients and other basic components, choosing the right foods for a balanced diet is just as important. After all, you are what you eat, and so is your cat. Including the right foods from each feline food group ensures they have a healthy, properly balanced diet.
Types of Meat to Include
Cats cannot just have any meat source. While they are natural carnivores, domestic cats are very different from feral cats. Their genetics have changed since the time of wild, feral cats, so they have a specific tolerance to meats that needs to be taken into consideration.
Beef, veal, mutton, lamb, and pork are all great sources of meat to include in a homemade diet. These sources are the most readily available. Although, other sources from the wild are just as beneficial, such as deer or fish, for example.
If you have the resources available, go to a local butcher’s shop for the cuts of meat. Grocery stores will have all that you need, but they are generally not the best source, so go elsewhere if you can. Oddly enough, roadkill is a great source as long as it’s freshly killed.
Oils and Supplements for Nutrients
Oils and supplements are required for homemade cat food in most cases. Fish oil, for example, is great for homemade cat food. Calcium supplements that are free of magnesium and phosphorus are a great addition to the mix.
Flax, canola, fish, corn, safflower and sunflower oil are all great to add into the raw food mix. They do not upset the natural balance of the diet you’re hoping to achieve for your cat, but only as long as you mix them equally.
Additional Food Sources for Nutrients
Interestingly enough, egg yolks do wonders for cats. They include a number of amino acids, such as methionine and arginine, that are essential for a cat’s balanced diet. Egg yolks also include essential vitamins, minerals and more, so they are great to include in a raw diet. You should never be feeding your cat raw egg white, however, but only using the yolks.
Types of Foods to Leave Out
Knowing which foods to leave out of your cat’s diet is also very important. Including the wrong foods could destroy the balance completely.
Meat that is not fresh or spoiled, for example, will likely cause your cat to refuse it. Frozen meat can also have this reaction, as well. Raw, fresh meat has more nutrients and is the best you can do for your cat.
Chicken and rabbits are not recommended as a meat source. While most would argue that feral cats eat chicken and rabbits just fine, it’s important to remember that those cats are feral, not domestic. Lean, bulkier meats, such as beef, are better for your cat.
Carbohydrates, such as corn and rice, are fine to add in small amounts, but they do not bring any benefits to a balanced diet. Therefore, it’s best to just leave them out entirely, or use them to bulk up the amount of food you are making. If you do decide to use carbohydrates, ensure that the percentage is 10 minimum.
Garlic, raisins, grapes, tomatoes, and onions are also ingredients to avoid when making homemade cat food.
Making Homemade Cat Food: The Different Types
There are three different types of homemade cat food. Raw, half-cooked and cooked are the options that you have to make when making your cat’s food from your own kitchen.
Raw Cat Food
Feeding your cat a raw diet wholesome, balanced diet you could ever give them. Unless your cat has specific health problems, such as issues with their bowel, for example, a raw diet is definitely something to consider greatly.
A raw diet consists of, as the name suggests, raw foods. You do not cook any of the meat that you are including in the food. The fruits, vegetables, and other components are not cooked either, but they will need to be broken down as much as possible. Cats do not have the same enzymes that we do to break down fruits and vegetables.
When your cat is on a raw diet you will notice a change in their coat’s appearance. It will be much softer and more beautiful than ever before. Their energy will improve, which is great for cats who seem low the majority of the time.
Most believe that this is very expensive to do, but in reality, it’s actually much cheaper than spending large amounts of money on dry food per year. It’s not as time-consuming as one would think. For example, if you have two cats to make food for, it only takes about two hours a day to do so.
One of the biggest, and typically the only, cons where raw cat food is concerned, is the overall risk of bacteria and salmonella poisoning. After all, your cat is eating raw meat, so properly preparing it without contaminating it is very important.
Half-Cooked Cat Food
A half-cooked diet will consist of raw materials where nutrients and other components are concerned, but the meat sources are somewhat cooked. Half-cooking your cat’s food is done by only cooking the surface of the meat and not the inside. It leaves the meat’s surface cooked, which is great for cats who do not like raw meat and need a bit of a push, but have the raw parts underneath.
Because the meat is semi-cooked and out of the way of possible bacteria contamination, it’s a homemade diet that a lot of owners who fear the risks of having the food contaminated choose to go with.
The results are just a good as the raw diet where energy and health of the cat’s coats are concerned. This type of diet also has the same pros that the raw diet does, as well.
Cooked Cat Food
Giving your cat a cooked diet is exactly what it sounds like: a diet that is made out of cooked foods. This means that you can either cook the meats fully and leave the other components raw, or cook everything together to have the entire portion fully cooked.
Like the previous types of homemade cat food, they bring the same benefits. The cooked diet, however, removes the possibility of salmonella poisoning and bacteria contamination altogether because the meat has been fully cooked.
Like all diets, homemade diets may not be for your cat specifically, so it’s best to check with your vet before you start your cat on their transition to having a homemade diet. They may even be able to give you some tips on extra things to add for your cat’s case specifically, which benefits the health of your cat even more.
10 of the Best Recipes for Homemade Cat Food
The recipe is the most important part of a cat’s diet. Below are 10 of the best recipes for homemade cat food collected into one place.
1. Chicken/Rabbit Homemade Cat Food
This recipe requires either 3 pounds of poultry skin, bones, or thigh meat, or 2 to 2.5 pounds of a ground rabbit carcass plus 1 pound of boneless turkey or chicken skin, fat, or meat.
You will also need:
- 1 cup of water
- 2 eggs
- 5 to 10 capsules of 1,000mg fish oil
- 268mg of powdered vitamin E
- 1 tablet or capsule of vitamin B complex 50
- 2,000mg powdered taurine
- 1 tsp Morton Lite salt, with the iodine if you are using chicken, half a tsp with rabbit (1 tsp of regular salt can be used as a substitute)
- 4-3 ounces of chicken liver for every 3 pounds of meat, skin, or bones
The only downside to this recipe is how difficult some ingredients can be to find. For example, some won’t have access to Morton Lite salt. Therefore, regular salt with iodine is your best bet as a substitute.
2. Chicken Dinner Recipe
This recipe requires 1 cup of cooked chicken. You can bake or broil it, whichever your cat prefers. You will also need the following ingredients:
- Chicken broth, which is to be added as needed where portion is concerned
- 1/4 cup of mashed, steamed carrots
- 1/4 cup of mashed, steamed broccoli
This recipe is very simple and provides all of the nutrients and requirements that your cat must have within a meal.
3. Chicken and Tuna Dinner
This recipe requires 1/2 cup of cooked chicken to start, going on to include the following ingredients:
- 1 can of tuna with the oil
- 2 tablespoons of cooked rice, brown
- 1 tablespoon of mashed, cooked carrot
This recipe is great for finicky eaters. The tuna will encourage them to eat the chicken and eventually transition into anything you put in front of him or her.
4. Cat Salad
This recipe requires quite a bit of ingredients that give your cat the best of both worlds. The recipe requires the following list of the ingredients:
- 1/2 cup of alfalfa sprouts, chopped
- 1/4 cup of zucchini, grated
- 1/8 teaspoon of catnip for garnish, minced
- 1/8 cup of fish stock or chicken
This recipe is great for cats who love vegetables and can’t seem to get enough. It gives them what they desire the most, as well as the protein and other nutrients they desperately need.
5. Beef Homemade Dinner
This recipe requires 1 cup of beef, ground, to start, and goes on to require the following ingredients:
- 3/4 cups of cottage cheese curds, small
- 6 tbs of alfalfa sprouts, minced
- 1/2 cup of rice, brown and steamed
This recipe is great for cats that love beef more than anything and is very easy to make.
6. For the Cat Who Will Eat Anything
This recipe starts off with 6 ounces of ground turkey, and goes on to include the following ingredients:
- 1/2 pound of chicken breast, boneless
- 1/2 ground beef, lean
- 1/2 pound of ground lamb, lean
- 1/2 pound of chicken, turkey, or beef heart, ground
This recipe is great for cats who will eat virtually anything, but remember to add oils and supplements to ensure they are getting everything that they need.
7. Kitty Cat Casserole
This recipe is another great mix of ingredients that cover each base, plus some. The ingredients start with 4 ounces of meat. This could include venison, organ parts, lamb, beef, whatever your cat likes best. The remaining ingredients are:
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbs of sunflower oil
- 1 tbs of cottage cheese
- 1 tbs carrot, grated or mashed
This recipe is great for cats who love vegetables just as much as they love meats and other protein sources.
8. Finicky Cat Fish Feast
This recipe starts off with 1 can of salmon, and goes off to include the following ingredients:
- 1 can of tuna
- 1/4 cup of carrots, steamed and shredded
- 1/4 cups of broccoli, steamed
This recipe is done better by using the oils that come from the cans to make the dish more delicious for your cat.
9. Chunky Meat and Rice Homemade Cat Food
This recipe starts off with 1/2 pound of ground meat, which could be chicken, lamb, beef, or turkey, and follows with the following ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of rice, cooked
- 4 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 large egg, hard-boiled
This is a great, simple recipe for a cat’s dinner.
10. Sardine Feast Homemade Cat Food
This recipe contains the most simple of ingredients, and is very easy to make:
- 1 tin of sardines, preferably in the oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of rice, cooked
- 1 large egg, hard-boiled
This recipe is great for cats who love seafood more than anything.
Why Homemade Diets Rule Over Commercial Diets
The reason why making homemade cat food as opposed to giving your cat food a commercial diet bowls down to three very important reasons, which are the health of your cat, money, and time.
The Importance of Their Health
The biggest problem with a commercial diet is the lack of water. Dry food is always depleted of water, so a cat on a commercial diet alone does not receive the amount of water that they need. This causes multiple health problems, such as urinary tract infections, for example.
You Save Money
Most people assume that making your cat’s food at home is very expensive, but that actually could not be farther from the truth. It also depends on what you buy, as well. For example, chicken is much cheaper than rabbit. Where you buy the ingredients is another factor, their appetite and caloric needs, and the supplements.
The only scary part about homemade cat food is the supplements. They can seem like they cost a very pretty penny at first, but the expense is actually very minimal once you are making the food over a longer period of time.
Commercial cat food can become very pricey over time. For example, say you are spending $60 per month on cat food. That equals up to $720 per year for something that is actually harming your cat. If you feed your cat a homemade diet, however, that cost is cut in half, if not more.
You’re Saving Time
Even though you may think you’re using up a lot of time making homemade cat food, when commercial food is bought and ready to go in minutes, you’re saving time down the road. Homemade cat food does not make your cat sick, as long as you’re making it properly, whereas commercial depletes their health.
If you’re really concerned about saving more time, however, there are commercial raw cat food that you can purchase, stick in the freezer, and take out whenever you need to feed your cat.
Alternatives to Homemade Cat Food
If your cat cannot sustain on a homemade diet for whatever reason, say if they are finicky or their health does not allow it, for example, you still have a couple of options available to you.
Commercial Raw Food Diet for Cats
If you are unable to make homemade cat food yourself, don’t fret. You can still put your cat on a raw food diet through commercial businesses that offer products to mirror homemade cat food.
Rad Cat is a prime example of commercial raw food for cats. They only use the highest quality cuts where organ meats and muscle are concerned. They are free of antibiotics and hormones, are inspected by the USDA, and use meats that are pasture-raised, grass-fed, and free-range.
Rad Cat boasts ultimate results and benefits. Their commercial raw food gives cats a healthier coat, improves their skin, cleans their teeth naturally, helps with weight control, and leaves very little odor in the litter box.
There are multiple fantastic brands of commercial raw cat food out on the market, including the brands that are listed below for your convenience:
Overall, there are so many wonderful brands of commercial raw cat food out there, so even if you don’t have the time to make anything at home, you can still feed your cat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Though commercial canned cat food brands are not exactly raw, unless they specifically state that they are, they are world's better for cats when compared to dry food because of the moisture and water in them.
Because of this, some owners think that it’s okay to mix a bit of water in with their dry kibble, but that makes the situation even worse. Bacterial already sits on the surface of dry food, and adding moisture into the mix will result in a bacteria growth that can become massive very quickly.
Canned foods have more protein, don’t have as many carbohydrates, and are much better for cats where their health is concerned against dry food. They have a higher water content and keep the bladder and the kidneys healthy. While most owners assume that wet food is a treat, they should really only be feeding their cats canned food.
Canned cat food has approximately between 45% to 50% protein and only contains up to 10% of carbohydrates. However, dry food has only half the amount of protein that canned food does, with boosted carbohydrate percentages to fill up the food a lot more, which is a serious issue.
Dry food is very dangerous for cats, especially where the recalls are concerned. On December 12th, 2016, Blue Ridge Bee Frozen Kitten Grind was recalled because of the potential contamination from salmonella and listeria monocytogenes. Because this product was for baby cats, it was very alarming that such a thing could happen.
Therefore, canned food is the definite way to go. It’s healthier, does not dehydrate your cat, and allows them to live a better, longer life.
F.A.Q & Tips
1. What are some of the essential pieces of equipment I’m going to need to make homemade cat food?
Making homemade cat food is very easy and does not require too much equipment, but to make it easier on yourself, and the food better for your cat, you’ll need a couple of things.
An Electric Meat Grinder
You could use a manual meat grinder, but the electric models do a much better job. The Tasin TS-108 electric meat grinder is your best bet for homemade cat food. It has a powerful motor, can chew through bone, is made from materials that will not contaminate any of the meat that goes through it.
You’re obviously need to need some canning jars to store the food in, unless you’re making portions for your cat as you go.
Half pint and regular pint jars are best for canning cat food. You will also need to pressurize the jars, too. To do this you will need a presser. There are a lot of great pressure canners out there, such as the All American 21 Quart Pressure Canner.
You can also use one method that works great for storing the protein part of your cat’s diet, being the meat. This canning process works extremely well to ensure that your cat has meat for up to weeks on end. This method is also great for emergencies, as well.
2. What type of ground meat should I be using, home-ground or pre-ground?
Always buy whole meats and never pre-ground. This is because bacteria sits on the surface of pre-ground meat, which is practically the entire mound of meat itself if it is in fact pre-ground. Once the meat has been ground it is then put in the refrigerated section of the store’s meat department, where it continues to grow bacteria and that is a serious problem.
Therefore, always buy whole meats and grind them yourself at home. Otherwise, you risk contamination and further bacteria growth, which will harm your cat and eliminate any potential for a balanced, proper diet.
3. Could I come up with my own homemade cat food recipe myself?
Yes, and no. If you are going to be making homemade cat food for your feline friend, then you need to ensure that you are doing it properly so as to not risk their health completely in the process. There are many common mistakes that can be made when creating a homemade cat food recipe, which is why creating your own is not a good idea.
4. I’m worried about pet recalls, so is a homemade diet really beneficial for my cat?
Of course. Homemade diets eliminate the mystery of what your cat is eating, considering you are literally making the meals yourself. Pet recalls can be a seriously scary situation, especially in the case of PETS at Home.
During February of this year, PETS at Home had to recall up to 4 AVA lines of cat food because of serious illnesses striking. Cats became sick, collapsed, and started to have fits as a result of their dry food.
Pet recalls are no laughing matter, and when you feed your cat commercial dry food you are running the risk of putting your cat’s health in danger. This is why a homemade diet, whether it be raw, half-cooked, or fully cooked, is extremely important.
5. Do I really need to worry about bacteria in my cat’s dry food that much?
Absolutely. Bacteria is processed dry food is very serious and can cause multiple health problems, such as diseased and viruses within a cat’s digestive tract system. The bacteria within these products are acquired when they are handled and processed, and almost always survive any prevention treatment while they are being made, not to mention the contamination that occurs during storage.
So, in short, yes, you absolutely should be worried about bacteria in your cat’s dry processed food. It’s a very large problem and declines the health of your cat on a large scale.
6. Are commercial diets safe?
Commercial diets for cats are not safe whatsoever. Having your cat on a commercial diet can lead to a scary amount of health problems, including the ones that are listed below:
- Hepatic lipidosis, or “fatty liver disease”
- Chronic kidney disease
- Urinary blockages and crystals
The majority of these problems can be solved by more moisture in their diet, but on a commercial diet, this will not occur. Even if their water bowl is always full, commercial food will not give them enough water and will not encourage them to drink more.
7. Is deboning poultry difficult to do, and how do I do it properly?
While it may look like a difficult task, deboning poultry is actually fairly easy. Once you see how it's done, you’ll be able to do it very easily in no time. However, learning how to do it step by step is probably your best bet.
8. Can my cat develop dental problems from eating raw meat?
Not at all. In fact, eating raw meat actually improves your cat's health. Dry food does not clean the teeth of cats like raw meat does. Chewing on raw bones, meat, skin, etc. helps to clean the teeth and wards off periodontal disease, tooth loss, and helps to control tartar.
Other Sources of Helpful Information
If you are looking to stay up to date with homemade cat food recipes, information, and more, check out the following websites listed below:
You can also find multiple other blogs throughout this guide by clicking on the hyperlinks. There you will find more recipes, tips, information, etc.