Bone Broth – Homemade Cat Food Recipe Base
Important Recipe Notes
This bone broth recipe is the base for Popeye Cat Food. Why bone broth for a cat food base? In a nutshell, it is compact nutrition that is gentle on feline tummies and the digestive tract, both.
Start a day or two ahead of time before you plan on serving it. This recipe makes approximately 2-quarts; or enough for 32 – 2 oz. Cat Size Servings - which is the perfect amount for mixing in with other food as an appetizer, supplement or simply by itself as a healthy treat. Pour leftover bone broth into ice cube trays for handy storage. They also make wonderful bullion cubes in your everyday cooking!!
Both this Bone Broth Base recipe and Popeye Cat Food recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to make larger batches. However, it is a good idea to make smaller batches of each different protein source. Your cats will appreciate the variety of tastes; plus feline stomachs digest each kind of protein easier than when they are mixed.
These recipes are fairly easy to incorporate into your normal family cooking routine. I usually make a couple of cat recipes a week; with at least one of them being the basic cat food recipe. I always have a couple of feline flavor options in the freezer.
Also, it is a good idea to alternate the meat/bone options to add diversity into their diet. A cats body will store the majority of their nutrients until they can be used; and providing a diverse diet ensures that they get enough of everything they need – without worrying about them getting too much of some nutrients and not enough of others.
It takes about two hours to make a batch of Popeye Cat Food, altogether; and that time is spread out over the course of roughly two days. Each batch will make approximately 3lbs of cat food that will need to be frozen into level muffin-sized portions that each weigh about 4-6oz ounces, depending on how much of a 'top' you give them. Suggested serving is about one 'muffin' 2x a day per adult cat.
Bones and/or Meat, Two Options:
1) Use about 3 lbs of animal bones for making the broth with ‘just bones’. Any kind of animal bones will do, really – chicken bones, fish bones, feet or whatever. Organic bones that include the marrow and/or cartilage are best. (Non-organic meats/bones tend to yield a less 'gelled' broth.) If you are using larger beef soup bones, I like to have the butcher cut them in half the long way to make sure the most nutritious part is exposed; and to make sure that they are being cooked thoroughly.
Yeah, most butchers will do that for you if you ask them. You can also ask if they have any ‘fresher’ bones in the back – the fresher, the better.
2) For making the entire Popeye Cat Food recipe, use 5-6 pounds of meat with bones. (See recipe for processing the bones for use in this broth.)
To start, in a four-quart stock pot combine all ingredients except Leafy Greens:
- 3lbs Animal Marrow Bones, including cartilage and other stuff that hangs off
- Two ‘pinky-sized’ Ginger Root, peeled and cut into chunks
- Three ‘pinky-sized’ Tumeric Root, peeled and cut into chunks
- 9 cups Spring Water, not Distilled or Tap Water
- 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (with Mother), 'Cloudy' ACV - Braggs or Organic
- One bunch Leafy Greens (Collard, Dandelion or Turnip), tear leaves & stocks
- OTHER INGREDIENTS, to add later (see below)
Why These Ingredients in Bone Broth for Cats?
Ginger: has many health benefits for cats; including anti-flammatory ones. But, it is particularly good for settling their stomachs and relaxing intestines.
Tumeric: also boasts many feline health benefits; including the ability of the liver to de-toxify and an immune system booster.
Leafy Greens: I always choose Collard, Dandelion or Turnip Leaves (sometimes I mix them) because they are especially high in calcium and other essential nutrients that are so important for cats; and the majority of calcium in bone broth comes from the vegetables that are simmered with the bones - as opposed to the bones, themselves. While you 'can' use other vegetables; some of them are high in iron and other minerals - such as Spinach & Kale. However, alternating the main vegetable will provide more diversity in this diet. For instance, Broccoli is also very high in calcium. You will find the favorite veggie flavors for your felines; but these three leafy greens are tried & true options for my cats.
Note: we will also be adding calcium/phosphorus/magnesium in other natural ways into this diet to make sure they are getting enough and 'the right kind'.
Spring Water: contains natural forms of minerals and trace minerals. There are some concerning questions surrounding drinking Distilled Water on a regular basis.
Apple Cider Vinegar: This is yet another ingredient that has many health benefits for cats - including enzymes to help with digestion - so adding it is kind of a bonus. In the case of bone broth, however; we are adding ACV because it draws nutrients from the bones.
- Cover the pot, allowing a very small crack for steam to escape. You want to lose some water, but not much. Try not to add any more water to the mixture during cooking; although if necessary, you can add more. It will simply make for a weaker and/or more watery consistency.
- Turn broth on medium-high for a few minutes to get the water hot; then turn down VERY low to a simmer. Allow to simmer for at least 10 hours; but you can keep it simmering for up to two whole days - until the bones are softer and even more nutrients have been drawn from them. For instance, larger, more dense bones - like beef - will need more time than chicken bones.
- Wander by occasionally to skim foam off the top, and stir for even cooking. The whole house will smell good!
- About five to six hours before you intend for the broth to be done; add the leafy vegetables to the simmer. When the bone broth is done; these veggies are actually really good to eat and are easy to fish out with a fork. Include them in a family recipe or add a little salt and butter to eat them yourself. While much of the nutrients are gone, they still have very good fiber content and are delicious.
- When broth is done simmering, separate the bones & vegetables from the broth by straining it through a strainer and/or cheese cloth to remove any solid, mushy pieces.
- Let the remaining broth cool in the pot on the stove, leaving lots of space for steam to escape. I wander by and continue to stir it occasionally so that it cools off more evenly. Let it cool to just below luke-warm, and before it gets cold. Bone Broth will turn into a gel when it is cool.
- Why Your Bone Broth Doesn't Gel | Food Renegade
I get a little giddy when I see gelled bone broth. If you’re like me and want that perfectly gelled broth every time, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.
Before the broth turns into gel, add nutritional supplements:
Sometimes, a batch of broth (when cooled) will be a little more watery than others (see side article link for gelling hints). It is Okay to thicken it up a little when you realize it; and before you put the recipe together. However, leaving the broth as 'just juice' is alright, too - your cats will lap it up either way. It is still nutritious and hopefully the next batch will gel better.
Arrowroot is a healthy thickening agent that you can add to the liquid broth. It will also aid in digestion for cats and other animals. Combine 2-3T of Arrowroot with some of the broth before adding it to the pot - stir thoroughly and allow to cool so that it thickens to the desired consistency.
Adding Supplements for Complete Feline Nutrition
These nutritional supplements (below) can optionally be added to the 'cat food' portion of their meal - if your kitties will take it that way. Mine take it easiest mixed in with the broth. Do whatever works best for your feline furbabies.
I include these nutritional supplements, despite that bone broth is already highly-nutritious - because this broth is meant to be a 'base' for another recipe. As such, it sort of gets 'watered down' even further. So any place where I can easily sneak in safe, cat-friendly nutrients without altering taste much, is just a good idea.
The thing about using nutritional supplements is that even though each of them may have a recommended daily dosage for cats; using the 'recommended dosage' can be overkill on favor - and one of the main reasons for using bone broth as a cat food base is because it is palatable for cats. Making it less palatable would defeat our purposes.
Remember: our cats eat more often and on a fairly regular basis than their wild ancestors had to. If you have to give them a little less in order to cover the taste; at least they are getting some regularly.
For me, this is especially true for Spirulina & Brewer's Yeast - although some cats love the taste of either/both so much, that it actually makes food more appealing to them. My cats like the taste & smell of both; but only in very small amounts.
For this reason, the amounts I have listed to use below can (and possibly should) be increased. However, these are the amounts that do not turn my cats off. If your cats are not used to these nutritional supplements; you may want to start them out at lower doses and gradually increase them.
It has also been suggested that they be added to their diets 'one at a time' in order to make sure there are no allergic reactions happening. And if they do happen, it is easier to identify which ingredient is bothering them.
My cats have never had allergy issues, so I took the risk and started them on this 'cold turkey'. They have never had problems digesting it or getting sick from it.
Taurine (add at least 3000mg) is a well-known, necessary supplement for feline health. 500mg is the minimum recommended daily allowance for cats; but you can’t overdose them on it, so most people add quite a bit extra. The recommended daily dosage for cats is a little 'under' in this recipe (you can increase it if you want to); because we will be giving them 'real' Taurine (and Vitamin A!) from liver in my upcoming Liver Pate & Sausages for Cats recipe that goes along with this feline diet. They are so easy - easier than making bone broth or cat food; and kitties love love love them!!
QUALITY SOURCED Spirulina or Bee Pollen, at least 1/4 t (as much as 2T) per 2-quarts of bone broth – I add one of these supplements to help plug any nutritional deficiencies that might still exist in my cats diets. These are easily-digestible, compact superfoods that are rich in multivitamins, antioxidants, minerals, trace minerals, Omega 3’s, enzymes and probiotics, etc. They are wholefoods, meaning that they contain everything necessary to sustain life. Some people sprinkle Spirulina on their cats food. Most cats really like the taste in small amounts. Bee Pollen is also very good for them for similar reasons; and will provide additional diversity in your cat’s diet. I alternate these two whole food supplements. It is easy to tell the difference between them in the freezer because Spirulina tints the broth green.
The recommended dosage for these superfood supplements is 1/8 tsp per day per cat. So once this is mixed into the food, the amount might be less depending on if your cats will eat the full dose, or not. However, even if you have to cut back a bit (especially with Spirulina since it has a strong flavor) it is more than they would have gotten if it had not been added.
I have never had to use this - but many feline lovers swear by it for stimulating a cats appetite.
(Optional and/or Alternate) Add ¼ to ½ cup of Goats Milk (or a dairy product based in goats milk, such as kefir or yogurt) to the broth based on your cats preference to increase 'the right kind' of calcium content, even more. Goats milk is actually another whole superfood, contains no lactose and is very easy for most animals to digest.
(Optional) Flea Repellent Bone Broth: Add 2-5T Nutritional Brewer’s Yeast (not ‘rising’ yeast for baking)
(Optional) Cleansing Bone Broth: Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of food grade diatomaceous earth - removes toxins, cleanses the digestive track and eliminates parasites.
Next: Homemade Popeye Cat Food!