The Best & Easiest Homemade Cat Food: Bone Broth Based Recipe Variations for a Healthy, Diversified Diet - Cat Approved!
A good online resource on the nutritional & health benefits of bone broth for pets.
Excerpt: "...broth will contain the ingredients that are in bone. Covering and adhering to the ends of bones to form a joint, is cartilage. Therefore broth will also contain the ingredients that are in cartilage..."
Reason for the Invention of this Bone Broth Cat Food Recipe - Finicky Cats!
I started tinkering around with this recipe a few years ago when bone broth was the reigning health food fad; and it has turned out to be a good, healthy alternative to a raw diet for my finicky eaters.
Previous to coming up with these nutritious and delicious recipes for my feline furbabies; I had tried all the expensive, 'holistic' name brands - and I do mean all of them (Avoderm, Wysong, Evo, etc). My cats seem to have a serious repulsion to anything that contains a vegetable smell - if it has peas, pumpkin, carrots or whatever - they do not like it.
My cats would only eat enough of 'the good stuff' at a time to stop their stomachs from growling. And, while I suppose their coats looked nice and felt soft; they always lost weight because they didn't enjoy eating it - and my kitties don't need to lose weight.
I really wish I had the money back for every can or bag of catfood I have purchased that my cats did not like.
I know that I am supposed to be more patient in forcing my cats to accept a new, 'better for them' diet – but after making several unsuccessful, semi-expensive and time-consuming homemade cat food recipe attempts (along with much guilt for essentially making my beloved kitty cats starve while they refused to eat) - bone broth turned out to be the magic thing that allowed me to create a good-for-felines diet that is also appetizing for them.
Another Cat-lover who tried to turn her kitties onto a raw diet and failed... I am not alone in this frustration.
- I made and tried a Raw meat diet for cats
Christine DeMerchant makes and tries a raw meat diet for her cats. Looks at pros and cons of a raw meat diet for cats.
Is a Raw Diet for Cat Carnivores Necessary?
Another cat food option I tried was the best semi-raw cat food diet online because I was looking for an alternative to the unpalatable holistic blends. I BELIEVED it when fellow feline-lovers (including multiple homeopathic veterinarians) told me that cats are carnivores and NEED that kind of diet.
But, I had more problems trying to get my cats to eat the raw food than the holistic brands. (And, can I just say 'bones & grinder'? Ugh!)
This is the main reason why I was practically forced to come up with my own homemade cat food recipes. However, I learned much from these previous resources and cooking attempts about making homemade cat food; and I could not have created this diet without them.
While the 'carnivore' part of things about cats is certainly true; a raw diet for a carnivore is neither necessary nor mandatory - and in fact, can be harder for them to digest despite that 'this is how they would eat in the wilderness'.
Plus, our cats eat differently than when they are in the wild. For one thing, they eat more often and on a semi-regular schedule. They aren't practically starving and inhaling as much as they can - however they can - when they finally get to eat.
Just because mother nature didn't provide a way for cats to cook their own meat; does not mean that cooking it can't be as good for them - IF you do it right by preserving the nutritional value of the food as much as possible; WHILE making it easy for them to digest.
That is where bone broth comes in...
It turns out that cats are no more difficult to cook for than the rest of our family. I will explain why each step is done the way it is; why each ingredient is in here; and how to prepare it to preserve the most nutritional value.
Why Bone Broth for a Homemade Cat Food Base?
Bone broth is animal marrow bones & vegetables that have essentially been partially 'digested' through hours of slow-simmering in a crockpot or on the stove. When finished, the bones and other solids are separated from the broth; leaving behind rich concentrations of nutrients in a healthy, much easier-to-digest form.
The really neat thing about bone broth done right is that it contains almost the same nutrients that cats would get from eating a raw carcass in the wild; except without the chewing and/or digestive traumas that can go along with eating tough cartilage and/or hard bones, etc.
This makes bone broth a good alternative for cats who do not have healthy teeth & gums; or who no longer have the ability to digest properly do to disease or old age (like my Lilygirl). However, these kitties can often still ingest the essential nutrients they need through bone broth, because it is so much easier for their body to digest.
When bone broth cools, it turns into a gelatinous state; making it a good coalescing base to hold the ingredients of this homemade cat food together. It is also one of the most important components...
Aside from being a rich source of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, amino acids, enzymes and probiotics specifically targeted for feline health; the finished, ‘gelled’ broth is full of Glucosamine / Chondroitin / Collagen that is so important for supporting liver, skin, joint, digestive and immune systems in most of the world’s ‘animals’ – including Felines & Humans.
Yes, this bone broth is also good for Humans, Canines and other animals; and can be easily altered for specific dietary needs. Collagen is the most abundant protein in animal bodies; and is needed for building healthy bones, cartilage, skin, arteries, corneas, and placentas, etc.
How Much Nutrients are Lost in Food During Cooking?
What does cooking actually do to the nutrients in food? It depends on the type of food it is.
For instance, the Popeye Cat Food recipe calls for the meat to be at least partially baked as opposed to boiling that I have seen other natural cat recipes call for - because baking will kill bacteria on the surface of whole meat cuts & carcasses; and they will lose the least amount of nutrients through baking. We will be replacing the nutrients that will be lost via this cooking method with a supplement and a couple of other natural food sources; but mostly (surprisingly) through the vegetables...
- Cooking Vegetables for Optimum Nutrition | Paleo Leap
Does cooking vegetables destroy their nutrients? What's the healthiest way to cook them? Learn the pros and cons of raw, cooked, and fermented vegetables.
But, Cats are Carnivores and Shouldn’t Eat Vegetables!
As most people are aware by now, cats are carnivores and do not produce the enzymes in their bodies to digest vegetables very well – but, the nutrients from vegetables are good for cats. The nutrients from cooking vegetables are almost always lost in the water – which is one of the reasons why eating raw vegetables (for Humans) is so popular.
But, did you know that even Humans have a more difficult time digesting raw foods than cooked foods? This is because cooking helps break foods down before we actually consume them. Some foods lose more or less nutrients depending on the way they are cooked.
"Some nutrients in vegetables, known as water-soluble vitamins, dissolve in water. The longer vegetables are submerged in water, the more vitamins seep out. The loss of vitamins is increased when these vegetables are also exposed to heat, such as during boiling." Source
Easy Digestion of Vegetables
Simmering the right mix of vegetables with the bones will draw their nutrients from them in an easily-digestible way for our beloved feline friends. In fact, I don't feed my cats vegetables any other way, anymore - not even in raw, herbal forms as a supplement.
You should be able to give every nutrient that a healthy cat needs from the food they eat.
While I have included the supplement of Taurine and a couple other whole food additions to add nutrients to this recipe; they are simply additions to make sure nutritional-balances remain inter-connected and complete. (Such as to ensure enough of 'all the different kinds' of digestive enzymes and amino acids are included.)
Since this broth is an easily-digestible, all-natural – and specifically cat-friendly pet food base; there is nothing harmful in it to worry about your beloved pet overdosing on if you happen to give them too much.
If anything, their stool might be a little runny at first; or it may be too rich for really tender tummies – although, the likelihood is that it will help. My kitties and I include easily-digestible ingredients along with sensitive-stomach support.
I have never had a problem with them digesting this food - not even in the beginning when I was starting them on it. I don't know why, I was expecting that.
Add more, cut back or dilute, as seems necessary for your cats or other pets. Even giving a weak pet a diluted teaspoon every once in a while is a good way to get some tasty nutrients into sick bodies.
Quote from Above Article
"So: Canned food and dry food appear roughly equal in the world of dental disease. Canned food appears better for urinary health. Dry food appears better for thyroid health. In the end it’s a toss-up."
After almost two years of living with healthy, active cats with soft, shiny coats; I am convinced that this is an easier-to-eat (and make!), nutritionally-balanced recipe for them than any other homemade cat food recipe I have come across.
There are so many health benefits to using bone broth for cats... For one, it is a great way to help keep them hydrated.
Cats are desert animals and get most of the water their bodies need in the wild from the prey they eat. The dry food and/or 'treats' that we give cats can dehydrate them if they are not big water-drinkers.
Many people insist that you should not give cats any dry treats - at all; and maybe that is true. But, my cats love the 'crunch'. It's like a party in their mouths - in small amounts.
Purrs, purrs, purrs... ;)
Also, all of my cats have always been good dry-food eaters - despite my best intentions while trying to wean them off of it - because of all the 'warnings'. I was relieved to find links about both types of food being Okay. I leave dry food out for my three cats all day - and feed them wet food twice, morning & evening.
They're healthy and fine.
Freezing Does Not Necessarily Kill Bacteria and Viruses
- Giant Virus Resurrected from 30,000-year-old Ice
Largest virus yet discovered hints at viral diversity trapped in permafrost.
What is Freezing Food Good for?
Did you know that freezing does not kill all bacteria or viruses no matter how long you freeze it? In fact, Scientists freeze samples of ice to preserve any 'life' that might be contained within them until they can be thawed and investigated in more safe environments under controlled circumstances.
While it is possible for some of the dangerous micro-organisms to die off during freezing; it is not a standard for decontaminating raw food. The main reason to freeze food is to keep it from decomposing until you can get around to cooking it so that it is safe to eat. Yes, foods do loose a bit of their nutritional value if you freeze them; but most of it stays if you use it within a reasonable timeframe.
I feed my cats a couple of days of this homemade food while it is fresh; and freeze the leftovers beyond that - but never for longer than a month.
Best Advice for Cooking Homemade Food for Cats
Relax and do your best... We human/feline mammas can drive ourselves nuts over 'what ifs' and 'not enough/too much' questions that surround making homemade things like this. I've done my research and you can go behind me and double-check to see if I have things right or not. Even share these recipes with your veternarian to get their opinion.
But, homemade cooking for pets is just like cooking for our families... Not every meal is a completely balanced and well-portioned piece of nutritional art. That is why we practice diversity - while utilizing ingredients that are good for cats and staying away from those that are not.
Your kitty cats will tell you a lot... For instance, my cats would not eat this food at first beyond licking it to death until I started grinding it up into a finer pate texture that was similar in texture to their favorite wet foods.
However, I have slowly been able to ween my cats off of the fine pate; and now provide the meat as a mix of pate and small chunks. As a result, all three of them have been eating more meaty chunks - slicing their carnivore teeth into morsels that are so good for their teeth.
It only took a couple of weeks for that transition to take place in my cats. They now LOOK like carnivores when they are eating.
Homemade 'Popeye' Cat Food Recipe Using Bone Broth
Liver Pate & Sausage Supplemental Treats for Cats