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Healthy Cat Food To Make At Home

Updated on February 1, 2012

Houdini the contented cat

Cats are one of the most popular pets in the world. They require little in the way of training or specific care and, when properly fed and routinely vaccinated, they are typically very healthy pets. It is estimated by the American Humane Society that there are an amazing 86.4 million pet cats in the United States alone. Most people that have cats have more than one, with the average cat owning household being graced by the presence of at least 2 feline pets.

Our household exceeds that number with a total of three. All are rescue cats and all have their own unique personalities. They also are wonderful companions to the five dogs in our home and, contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats truly can live in harmony!

Feeding your animals the best possible diet is one of the most effective ways to help reduce vet bills and ensure that your pets are healthy and nutritionally well cared for. However, cats and dogs do have different nutritional requirements and using home made recipes that are designed for dogs will not meet your cat's metabolic needs. To understand the basics of making nutritious cat food at home it is important to take a look at feline nutritional needs and how that relates to cat health.

Callie after a hard day at the computer

Important Cat Nutrition Basics

Cats, as a species, are obligate carnivores. This means that they are required to eat meat to stay healthy. The majority of the cat's protein intake must come from animal sources and not from plants. If you take a look at the typical commercial cat food you will find that some type of non-meat product is the primary ingredient on the list. This may be corn, wheat, rice, soy or any combination of the above.

It is essential to understand that the cat's metabolic and digestive system lacks the ability to use the protein sources from plant sources. They are missing the enzymes that break plant based proteins into the amino acids, particularly taurine, necessary for correct cellular metabolism. Dogs, on the other hand, have these enzymes and are able to use some plant based protein.

Cats need to have a lower amount of carbohydrate in their diet than is available in many commercial cat foods. Carbohydrates, as anyone one a diet knows, are found in sugary and starchy foods such as grains. In fact most researchers recommend that cat food be no higher than 5% in carbohydrates for optimum health. Typical commercial cat foods may be as high as 50% carbohydrates.

Moist food and not dry forms of food are also considered optimal for cats. Cats often do not routinely drink water and, some research shows, they have a limited thirst response when they are dehydrating. The natural diet of the cat, which is raw meat, is very high in moisture and addresses this nutritional requirement. Cats on dry food may not accommodate for the lack of water in their food by drinking more. Many vets and researchers believe this is why urinary tract problems are so common in domestic cats.

Windy on lookout

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Tips And Safety When Making Your Own Healthy Cat Food

The key element in making your own homemade cat food is to keep the diet as close to natural as possible. This means feeding minimally cooked meats supplemented with very small amounts of good quality carbohydrates. Many people are concerned about feeding raw meats and there is a slight chance of cross contamination or disease transmission when using completely raw protein sources. Minimal cooking can reduce this risk.

Use all appropriate storage and handling protocols and only make one or two days of food ahead if you are going to store it in the fridge. You can also make individual cat food packages and freeze for long term storage. This allows you to take out the individual package and use that day, keeping everything very fresh. If you want to get really creative you can also can the food using home canning techniques.

In addition to just the meat source, you will also have to include vitamins and minerals. You will also need to have a grinder that can handle small bones since the calcium in the bones is a necessary component of the diet. This can be complicated process and, if you are going to feed your own cat food, it is well worth consulting with an animal nutritionist before taking the plunge.

The Basic Recipe

A recipe that I have used is a cooked version of a homemade cat food and is a daily amount for one adult cat. I was given the recipe from a rescue group I worked with and it was used to quickly "build up" cats that were brought in with serious starvation and poor health issues.

I par-boil the meat, which is very lightly cooked with the bones, then grind the meat and bones together to about hamburger texture. This recipe may not be right for your cat based on age, health or other factors. Always talk to your vet before choosing a homemade diet to ensure proper nutrition for your pet.

  • 2/3 cup ground pre-cooked meat (poultry thighs, lean beef, fish or a mixture)
  • 1/4 cup cooked oatmeal or brown rice
  • 1/4 cup sweet potato, cooked and mashed (for fiber)
  • 1/4 teaspoon olive oil or fish oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cat vitamins and minerals that contains vitamin's E, B, A (or feed liver which will contain these essential nutritional components)

You will have to transition your cat over to this recipe. A good option is to warm it slightly and be sure to add water just before feeding so it is a bit soupy. This seems to make it very palatable and also provides that extra liquid your cat needs for optimum health.


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    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Mardi, Thanks so much for the link to my hub!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

      Mardi, thanks so much for the backlink! We were given a similar recipe for our male who had crystaluria. Thanks for your great info!

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi 5 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      Thank you Stephanie. My cats love this recipe. I have linked your article to this one as well. Terrific hub by the way!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for writing this hub in answer to my question about homemade cat food! This looks like a really good recipe, and something that my cat will like. I switched over to homemade cat food about 2 months ago when my cat's health seemed to be going downhill no matter what kind of commercial food we gave him. Since then, he's improved greatly. I will try your recipe the next time we make him a batch of food! I actually make about 8-10 days worth and freeze in individual containers.

      Thank you! Voted up and shared!

      I'll link this to my hub, 10 Ways to Pamper your cat. I know Gemini will approve! :)