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Making Your Own Canned Cat Food

Updated on November 16, 2013

Cats with Diabetes, Canned Pet Food, Pet Nutrition

If you are a pet owner, no doubt you have tried several feeding routines to give your pet the best nutrition and not break the bank. I have two indoor cats and have tried several medleys of wet and dry food for them. They were often unreceptive to the wet food and take a few bites and let it sit and begins to stink, when I say “begins” I mean a worse stench than the initial smell when you open a can or pouch. We settled on a strict feeding regimen of indoor dry food. My overweight cat continued to be chubby and my young kitty seemed perfectly pleased. They were both healthy and active.

I slowly noticed that my big kitty, Pokie, began to drink more water, hang around the litter box and seem generally miserable. He was dropping weight more quickly then I believed was possible. The vet diagnosed him with diabetes and I realized that everything had to change, and fast. His condition seemed to be getting worse by the minute. The fact is that, yes I am one of those people who loves their pets as much as they love their dearest family and friends. Reader, if this is not you it is best stop reading now; because this requires love, time and patience. The vet immediately prescribed insulin and I set out to wean my kitties off their dry food. I began reading and stumbled across Lisa Pierson DVM, and expert on feline nutrition. Pierson makes her own raw cat food. If you want to feed your cat an ideal diet consult her website. I decided for myself that homemade canned cat food was the best fit for our particular situation. It took time, but we were able to change both our kitties from all wet to dry food and see our gentle giant improve just as quickly as he had taken ill.

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Let us start with what you will need to make your own canned cat food:

  1. a pressure canner
  2. cans and fresh sealing lids
  3. a meat grinder
  4. cat vitamin supplements- taurine, b-complex, fish oil, calcium, vitamin E, Cosequin (or glucosamine for cats), iodine from a kelp supplement or light salt. I use a prepared feline mult-vitamin supplement with some small additions.
  5. Cornish game hen- number depending on batch
  6. chicken meat: thighs or breasts depending on how much fat you want in your food.
  7. chicken hearts, gizzards and liver
  8. a thickener if you wish: guar gum, gelatin or tapioca. Tapioca is starchy, and so therefore not the best choice if your kitty is diabetic.

I started by going to my local junk shop and purchasing a grinder. In Portland, I chose Really Good Stuff. They have absolutely everything. I found a great old crank grinder with all its attachments that was simply missing a handle, which I knew that I could improvise.

I already owned a pressure canner, but if you do not have one yet, it will save you money and improve your winter diet. A canner can also be purchased second-hand, if so be sure that you do research and make certain that all the vital parts are there. Jars can also be bought second hand. Estate sales, garage sales and Goodwill are great places to collect jars. Sealing jar lids and rings should always be purchased new in the cooking isle of your local grocery store.

I put all the grinder parts in the dishwasher and thoroughly sanitized them before beginning.

I cut the hearts, gizzards and liver into tiny pieces. Use a sharp knife. The gizzards are tough and you want them tiny, about an eighth of an inch squared. If you are not a good prep cook or are pressed for time, you may not want to include gizzards.

In a large pot- Cook your game hens, giblets, and chicken meat. Let simmer.

This is where you will use your muscles: When your meat is cooked remove the game hens whole along with any large chicken pieces and set aside on foil. This is where your grinder comes in: grind the whole bird bones and all into a meal, add some of your chicken bones. When all is thoroughly ground; discard the remaining bones. Consolidate everything back into one pot. There should be no large chucks or visible bones.

This is where you are going to use the math portion of your brain: Calculate how many jars you are making and read the label on your vitamins. If you are serving 3/4 cup twice a day (for instance) calculate the servings per jar. Use this to help you figure out how many vitamins that you want to add to your mixture and dissolve them fully in a mixing bowl with hot water and a whisk. Think of this as brine; add it to your batch when the mixture is fully dissolved. I do not add fish oil. I buy Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Pet. It comes in a dropper and I dose it on top of their food later, they love the taste and my vet uses the same brand.

When you have all your ingredients combined ladle it into jars. Make sure that each jar has equal parts liquid and meat mixture if you haven not added a thickener, or if you used gelatin; it will still be liquefied.

Follow the instructions that came with your canner to the letter. Do not discard your instructions. You will consult them again-and-again if you are a canning novice. Never eat from or feed your cat food that is not sealed or properly canned.

Feel good about feeding your kitties something that you could eat and that has no foul odor. Within a week and a half both of our kitties are eating homemade food and loving it.

Read the warning below carefully.

Use Caution!

VERY IMPORTANT: if your cat is diabetic you must check their blood glucose frequently as you make this transition. It will cause a change in their levels and could be dangerous if you are not keeping track. Tell your vet EVERYTHING that you are doing and update them on any changes regardless of whether you know that your cat is ill. Only your veteranarian can diagnose your cat and let you know what foods are safe. Refer to Lisa Pierson’s website:

for a longer explanation of feline diabetes and feeding. Do not change your cat’s feeding routine if you do not understand their condition or they are not under the care of a veterinarian. If you think your kitty has diabetes, call a veterinarian immediately. Do not hesitate. You will see your kitty’s health decline very abruptly if you wait. It takes work, but it is not a death sentence unless you ignore the symptoms, or choose not to treat it. Best of luck to all you other crazy cat people out there!

Gentle Giant at rest

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great idea! I had never even thought of doing this myself.

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 3 years ago from Australia

      I like home made kitty food but the-woman-who-feeds-me has never tried canning. I must show her these instructions on making your own canned cat food

    • profile image

      Linda Lewis 3 years ago

      Hi! I've been freezing semi-raw food for a couple of years, and recently started trying to can it. Every batch has boiled over (food leaking into the canner), but the jars sealed and I've been using them right away. The cats like it better than the frozen food, I think because it's cooked in the canner. I've done my best to get all the air bubbles out, but it's still fairly thick. Is your food pretty watery? Or do you think the boil overs could be because I'm doing a cold pack instead of a hot pack? Suggestions welcome!

    • citywolf profile image

      Sarah Wolfe 4 years ago from Oregon

      I should add that my attitude does not typify the American pet owner. There are a very wide range of attitudes when it comes to our cats and dogs. In rural areas the common practice when a neighbor's dog starts killing sheep is known as "shoot, shovel and shut-up." A cat that eats eggs from a farm may not live a long life. On the other hand the very rich spend thousands of dollars on grooming, feeding and other strange things like designer collars; some even will their money to their pet when they die. There is no typical experience here, every household is different.

    • citywolf profile image

      Sarah Wolfe 4 years ago from Oregon

      Yes, I can see how coming from a culture where people do not commonly have cats and dogs as pets. Our history (as humans) with the domestic cat and dog goes back for many thousands of years. Some scientists have gone so far as to call it a symbiosis. In the United States meat is more plentiful, but I realize that it is an inefficient food source and I try to eat it in moderation. My cats are another case. Having taking two carnivores in my care, I have a responsibility to feed them properly. They are my loyal companions. We are completely bonded. It is work, but its well worth it. I hope you get a chance to have a cat or dog of your own one day. I am very sorry to hear about the recent devastation in your country. A friend of my family had her entire town destroyed. Our news sources tend to report on the initial disaster and then give us very little about how recovery is happening. Good people remember, even when the media forgets.

    • KenDeanAgudo profile image

      Kenneth C Agudo 4 years ago from Tiwi, Philippines

      It seems that in some countries they really love and adore cats that they need to make an special food for them :) I have few friends who have cats too but this is the first time I have read like this.