Did you ever wonder why cats are always being portrayed catching those little mice in movies? Is it just a simple case of bullying?
Well, that’s one way to put it as some cats just like playing with these rodents – chasing them out of the fields and crops. But most cats – especially in the wild, actually hunt them for food.
In fact, little Jerry contains the optimal nutritional content for your Tom. An average rodent contains 70% – 80% water, 14% protein, and 10% fat.
However, domesticated cats don’t live in the wild anymore but in the comfort of your home now (hence the name) so they are given mostly dry kibbles and store-bought canned wet food.
While these treats are perfectly fine, some pet-owners prefer making cat foods on their own.
Homemade vs. Commercial Cat Food at a Glance
Cats are also obligate carnivores. It means that they are used to a diet consisting of small prey and they are perfectly fine with eating one meat-source raw.
Learning how to make your own cat food can be beneficial to you and your furry family member in many ways. With this, you can be sure that your cat is getting a perfectly balanced diet.
Homemade food is not a miracle food per se. The good and the bad of it depend on how you prepare it.
Comparing it to commercial food and kibbles, it’s a given that homemade food is much better. Besides, you can’t be sure that one kibble truly constitutes a complete and balanced diet.
Moreover, commercial dry cat food is obviously deficient in water and is linked to chronic dehydration as well as an increased risk of feline lower urinary tract disease.
Meanwhile, homemade food can be administered in different ways. It can either be served as a raw, half cooked or as fully cooked.
Raw meat diet mimics the eating habits of cats in the earlier times in the wild. This mostly includes meats such as chicken livers, bone meals, as well as other animal muscle meats and organs.
Proper Handling, Preparation, and Serving
Although it is much easier to serve, cats can still be at risk of bacterial infection. Animals, just like humans, can be affected by food-borne illnesses too.
When handling raw food, also make sure that your hands and the equipment that you use are clean. Bacteria exist only on the surface of a healthy animal and not inside the muscle tissue which can be easily removed through thorough cleaning.
However, avoid raw pre-ground meat as much as possible. This is because the grinding process can introduce surface bacteria into the muscle tissue which is impossible to remove. You can just grind the meat at home so there’s no time for the bacteria to form.
For you peace of mind and to minimize contamination, you can half-cook the meat which is perfect in providing enough heat to eliminate surface bacteria without breaking down nutrients.
Fully cooked diet, on the other hand, is just like cooking a meal for human – it also completely removes bacteria and other microorganisms that can be bad for your cat’s health. However, natural proteins and nutrients can perish with it too.
No matter how it’s prepared, a homemade meal is still much better than any processed food. How it is served depends on you and your feline friend’s preference.
Benefits of Going Homemade
Having a diet that closely resembles what they used to eat in the wild is purely beneficial to your cats. Arguably one of the greatest benefits of going homemade is having minimal filler ingredients present in it, unlike with processed store bought food.
Aside from having the honor of being your cat’s personal chef, there are a lot of real benefits in transitioning to homemade cat food.
- Homemade food is far more natural. Although commercially-made cat foods can fill up their stomach and provide some nutritional needs, it can never satisfy your carnivorous instincts.
- Since it is natural, homemade food is also healthier resulting in lesser trips to the vet. Health benefits include a shinier coat with fewer hairballs and shedding, as well as improved dental health. Your cat’s sharp teeth are naturally for tearing through raw meat and commercially-processed foods don’t provide the same oral health benefits that homemade foods, especially the raw ones, provide.
- Giving cats homemade food can also improve their digestive system function. It can greatly help cats suffering from IBD, IBS, GI distress, and a sensitive stomach. You can make their food that corresponds to their needs and a custom die that works well with their body. A good digestive function can be noticeable through the volume and odor of their stool. If your cat is currently overweight, giving it homemade treats can make weight loss easier.
- You have the freedom to control everything. You’re the one in charge with the source of meats, the ingredients, up to the process and how it is made. However, that privilege also comes with a big responsibility on your shoulder – that is to adhere to health requirements of your cat. You can mix and match the right vegetables, proteins, and supplements for your pet’s particular needs, especially if your cat has some health issues.
- Making cat food on your own is not only beneficial for your cat’s health, but also for your pocket, although some claim that making homemade cat food is far more expensive than just purchasing ready-made ones. If you just buy any food product out there, that might be true. But if you compare homemade food to high-quality canned ones, you can definitely save more. Buying meats and other ingredients in bulk mean more savings. If you have friends who are furparents too, you can combine your purchases with them so you can get more volume discount. These meals can last for weeks or months, depending on the quantity and quality.
- You get all the fun in choosing and following different recipes for your pet cat.
Homemade Cat Food Recipes
Before we dive in with the recipes, you should look for the best grinders to use in making cat food on the market today. Meat grinders play a big part in the preparation process at home since you don’t want to purchase pre-grinded meat in the market.
- Rabbit Stew
First on the list is a rabbit meal taken from Natural Cat Care by Christopher Day.
- 250 grams of rabbit meat, cut into small pieces
- Vegetable broth
- A bowl of sweet potato, carrot, celery, and peas (should not be more than 20 grams)
- Herbs (Parsley, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram)
- 5 ml of olive oil
- Sauté the rabbit meat in the olive oil. Mix in the parsley, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram.
- Add the vegetable broth and bring it to a boil.
- Turn the heat down and wait until the rabbit fully cooks. After that, add all the remaining vegetables.
- Oven cook the dish for another 45 minutes
- Serve it after cooling or you can choose to put the meal into a food processor for easier digestion. If there are leftovers, put it in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. You can opt to freeze it too.
2. Homemade Cat Kibbles
This recipe is perfect if you’re just introducing homemade meals to your cat since it’s in a kibble form.
- 9 oz of soy flour
- 5 oz whole wheat flour
- 5 oz of cornmeal
- 5 oz of wheat germ
- 2 oz of brewer’s yeast
- 8 oz of non-fat dry milk
- 1 can or 15 oz of mackerel
- 15 ml cod liver oil
- 75 ml vegetable oil
- While preheating the oven to 350 degrees, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Use a food processor to mash the mackerel with oil and water.
- Combine the mackerel mixture into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with your hands.
- Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness and cut it into ¼ inch bit using a pizza cutter or a knife.
- Put it on a greased cookie sheet and then bake for 25 minutes. Check and toss the kibbles from time to time so it can brown evenly on every side.
- When the timer’s up, just let the kibbles sit in the oven to cool.
3. Raw Chicken Cat Food
Overall, this recipe can create 100 ounces of food. It can last for a long time since an average feline consumes only 4-5 ounces a day.
- 4.5 lbs chicken thighs including the bone and skin
- 14 oz of chicken hearts (or extra meat/bone source with 4000mg taurine supplement)
- 7 oz of chicken livers
- 16 oz water
- 4 egg yolks or whole eggs (optional)
- 200 mg of Vitamin B supplement
- 134 mg of Vitamin E
- 4 grams of light iodized salt
- 2000 mg of Taurine
- Remove and discard at least 20% of the bone. Slice and dice most of the thighs into small portions.
- Grind and combine the rest of the thigh meat, bones, liver, and hearts at home using a quality grinder. This ensures that bacteria have no time to reproduce.
- Combine all vitamin supplements, salt, and eggs in a large bowl. Add in 2 cups of water and thoroughly whisk the mixture.
- Combine and mix the three main mixtures thoroughly.
- Store in an airtight container that allows room for expansion as the food freezes.
4. Almost-Spot’s Stew
Cats are always portrayed as an aloof and unfriendly animal. Although it can’t be always true, maybe this stew recipe from Food Pets Die For by Ann N. Martin can thaw the cold hearts of some.
- 1 whole chicken, preferably free range or labeled with “no hormones or antibiotics”
- 680 grams of brown rice
- 6 stalks celery
- 8 pieces of scrubbed carrots
- 2 to 3 pieces of yellow squash
- 2 to 3 pieces of zucchini
- 1 small broccoli crown
- 1 oz of green beans
- Wash the chicken and simmer with water in a large stew pot.
- Cut vegetables into small pieces and add to pot, add the rice after that.
- Cook and simmer until the meat of chicken almost falls off the bone and the vegetables are tender.
- Completely debone the chicken. It is vital that there’s no bone left in it because chicken bones can splinter and damage your pet’s intestine.
- Pour the stew into a blender and blend or chop until mixture is coarse about bite-sized.
- Store in meal-sized plastic bags and freeze.
5. Kitty Breakfast
A typical human breakfast consists of milk, eggs, and cheese. This easy breakfast recipe has these common ingredients that you can use. It’s perfect for a breakfast date with your kitty.
- 1/2 oz tablespoon non-fat, dry milk
- 3 medium-sized eggs
- 1 1/2 oz low lactose cheese
- 1 oz of grated vegetables.
- Mix the dry milk powder and a small amount of water together.
- Beat the eggs. Incorporate to the milk mixture until it is well blended.
- On medium-low heat, cook the mixture until it is done on a non-stick frying pan.
- Flip it and place the cottage cheese and vegetables over half of the surface. Fold it. It should look a bit like an omelet.
- Cool it for a bit and cut into bite-sized pieces before serving.
Transitioning – How Much Should They Eat?
Feeding pets are much like feeding a kid. They can range from eating everything to being very picky about food.
It’s a hit or miss when it comes to introducing them to a new food, especially if they are used to eating kibbles from the get-go.
You’re lucky if they got an adventurous streak and enjoy going homemade right away. But if not, you can slowly ease them into it. Besides, a gradual change is better so they won’t have any digestion problems.
Begin giving them homemade meals twice a week at first and monitor their reactions. Gradually increase it until they’re completely gobbling up on your self-made meal.
You can also mix it with their current food – increasing the proportion as they get used to the new meal plan.
It can take some time for them or maybe they just need a new recipe so don’t be discouraged if ever they don’t jump on it right away.
Their age can be a factor too. Habits of more mature cats are a lot harder to break. If you got a new kitty, you better start it with this food rather than feeding it kibbles and commercialized treats.
Now, let’s say that you’ve been successful with the transition. You’re used to giving cats a cup of kibbles and that’s it.
What about now? How much food do they need to eat?
This all depends on a couple of factors – cats’ weight and age as well as their lifestyle and how active they are. When making cat food, take note of calorie count and the breakdown of macronutrients in it.
With that in mind, it is easier to figure out how much food that you need to give to them. As a rule of thumb, cats should have 30 calories per pound of their weight daily.
Small breed cats that weigh 4 to 6 pounds can have 1/3 to a half cup in a day. Medium breeds from 7 to 9 pounds can have half to 2/3 cups, while larger cats that are 10 pounds or greater can have ¾ cups and up.
Usually, cats eat not more than twice a day. However, also take note of their behavior and appearance.
You can increase the amount if they’re still obviously hungry. If they’re starting to gain weight, you might want to decrease it a bit.
What Should it Contain?
Cats are not meant to eat processed food as it contains by-products and fillers that have no nutritional value. What they need is a species-appropriate diet.
Remember Jerry? Use it as a guide on what a typical cat food should contain.
Basically, meat, bone, organs, essential fatty acids, taurine, vitamins, and other important minerals constitute a well-balanced cat diet. This is what you should aim to recreate for your cat.
Basically, the main star of every recipe should be protein. However, it shouldn’t contain more than 10% carbs so take note of that.
You can either choose purely organic ingredients or not. This is just a matter of preference.
An average cat needs the essential ingredients listed below on a daily basis to ensure that it has a healthy, balanced diet:
- Vegetables and fruits
This one isn’t necessarily a requirement. Fruits and vegetables can be added to the recipe but in moderation.
Cats don’t really need it and they can survive without it. Some use it as a mere filler. However, the minerals present on fruits and vegetable can still be beneficial for your pets.
Supplements are a must-have when it comes to making homemade cat food. It should not be treated as an afterthought but rather a requirement.
The supplement that you need to add depends on the ingredients that you use on the cat food so you can fulfill your cat’s dietary needs. Treat it just like you’re filling a gap.
Don’t go crazy and add every supplement available out there. Supplements are usually mixed together with the other ingredients in a bowl. Some might prefer adding it directly during the grinding process.
Taurine – It is a component found in an animal-based protein which is essential for your pet’s health. Cats can’t produce their own Taurine that why it is important that they get it from the food that they eat.
If your recipe doesn’t have any meat source that is high in Taurine like a beef heart, you might want to sprinkle some on the meal.
Calcium – Some veterinarians recommend a 1:1 ratio of calcium and phosphorous on cat food. Meat contains enough phosphorous but lacks in calcium. Adding bone meal powder, seaweed, di-calcium phosphate, and other calcium sources can fill the gap.
Oils and fats are essential for building and maintaining tissues. A cat that lacks essential fatty acids can be prone to hair loss, slower wound healing, as well as kidney and liver degeneration.
Some good sources of fatty acids are safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola, and flax oils. Meanwhile, fish oil serves as a good source of omega acids.
A, B Complex, D, and E are some of the best vitamins that should be found on your kitty’s food. Vitamin A, which can be found in cod liver oil, is good for maintaining good vision and muscle build-up. Vitamin B Complex is for better nervous and immune system function.
Meanwhile, Vitamin D regulates and balances the calcium and phosphorous in cats’ body. For a dose of antioxidants, they also need Vitamin E supplements.
Vitamins E and B Complex is usually in a form of a pill. Both are ground up to be incorporated into the food.
Water is a necessity not only for your cats but for every living thing. Usually, kibbles and commercial cat food lacks this component.
You can provide them with an ample amount of water daily by incorporating hydrating food ingredients in their meals.
- Meat and Organs
Felines’ natural food can be found in the wild and most of the time meat is all that they eat. This is why it’s just fitting that you provide them the exact same thing in your homemade dish. They need 60-80% of meat to get their dose of proteins and amino acids.
Cats can also develop food allergies too so you need to change up their protein source from time to time. Turkey, rabbit, lamb, and chicken are only some of the best meat source for them.
Turkey, quail, and other small birds are a good substitute to chicken for they have small, delicate bones and low in fat content – therefore, these are easier to digest.
Mostly, turkey hearts and livers are used in feline cuisine. Cats also love its thighs and breast meat.
Another natural meat source for cats is rabbits since wild cats used to hunt them for food. Just be careful in incorporating it to their meals since rabbits have a high bone-to-meat ratio.
Last is chicken. You’d find that most recipes for homemade cat food feature chicken as the main ingredient. It is arguably easier to find – you can even purchase separate organs in most markets.
In purchasing cuts of poultry for your cats, it’s always better to have dark meat than white meat. This is because dark meat contains more nutrients that your kitty needs.
Dark meats are drumsticks and thighs while white meats are the breasts and wings.
The organs of the mentioned animals above are a good source of amino acids and nutrients that a lean muscle or bone can’t provide. Organs are also one of the most hydrating food sources.
- Pork and Beef – These are not usually used because of its high-fat content. Some are also full of antibiotics and growth hormones.
- Raw egg – This ingredient might be usually used in dog food because it can benefit your pup’s coat and skin. However, cats don’t really need this ingredient. It is also full of harmful bacteria.
- Onion – It contains an ingredient called thiosulphate that is toxic to cats.
- Fish and Canned Tuna – This might be a great shocker for some since cats love tuna. This isn’t necessarily bad for them. You just have to use it sparingly since canned tuna contains mercury that can be bad for your cat’s health in large amounts. It is also hard to find a safe source of raw fish. Ocean fishes can also be contaminated with heavy metals and toxins. Also, remember that cats don’t eat fish in the wild.
- Corn – it is usually used as a filler and has no real benefit for your cat.