Homemade Cat Food - Cat Info Detective

Homemade Cat Food

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Welcome curious kitties! Skye Blake here, discovering a few things to share with you about homemade cat food.

What’s the difference between homemade and raw cat food?

Is homemade food better than commercial wet or dry?

Let’s look at the facts…

What Is Homemade Cat Food?

cooked shrimp in chop sticks

Homemade cat food is anything you make at home instead of buying already made.

It’s the same idea as making your own meals instead of getting take-out.

This makes you responsible for giving your cat a complete and balanced diet.

cooked roast pork - sliced

You must learn about and be careful to include all the necessary nutrients in the proper amounts.

Balance is key to your cat’s continued health… protein, fats, carbohydrates, trace elements, minerals, and vitamins all must be given in the right amounts for each meal.

Is Homemade Cat Food Safe?

pharmacist, vet, scientist, vitamins, bottles, pills, capsules

If you’re going to try making your cat’s food at home, there are serious issues you should be aware of before deciding if it’s worth the effort involved.

It’s important to know what you’re getting into because if you take shortcuts or don’t know what you’re doing, you can easily cause serious medical problems in your cat.

bacteria under microscope

The two major safety issues are…

  • Nutritional imbalances
  • Bacteria and parasites in raw meat

Nutritional Imbalances

Shaker of salt

Cats need protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals in specific proportions in order to grow and stay healthy.

If too much or too little are given, serious problems will develop affecting organs like the heart, liver and kidneys, as well as bones and skin.

For example, too much vitamin A causes bone growth in the vertebral column, making it painful and difficult to move.

vitamin A generic bottle

When you first start feeding a homemade diet, your cat may look and feel healthier, but if it’s incomplete and unbalanced, the effects won’t show until later, after months and sometimes a few years.

Vet nutritionists who work with raw or homemade diets often recommend having your cat’s blood tested every 3-6 months to catch any problems early enough to make the appropriate adjustments.

This video shows the difficulties of making sure your cat has the right nutrients in a homemade diet…

Why Balancing Your Pet’s Homemade Meals Is Important, Paws of Prey, January 26, 2021

Read more about the nutrition cats need and the importance of a complete and balanced diet at “What Nutrients Do Cats Need?” and “What Vitamins Do Cats Need?

Bacteria & Parasites

microscopic parasitic bug

Since homemade cat food is often made with raw meats it must be handled properly, using good hygiene, just as when you prepare meat for your own meals.

The risk of bacterial infections and parasites for both you and your cat are real.

If you’re going to be responsible for providing a complete and balanced homemade diet for your cat, vets often recommend cooking the meat to reduce or eliminate these risks.

Is There a Difference Between Homemade & Raw Food?

raw chopped beef

Homemade cat food can be either cooked or raw, or even a combination of the two.

Whether it’s cooked or raw, homemade food must be complete and balanced.

Discover more about raw food at “Raw Cat Food – Good or Bad?” and “Raw Meat Diet for Cats – Benefits vs. Risks

Deciding if Homemade Is Right For You

graphic of blue cat sitting by pink refrigerator thinking of roast chicken, turkey

If you believe making a homemade or raw diet is what you want to do, it’s very important to have your cat given a checkup by your vet and discuss what diet is best for his needs.

Any homemade diet must be specifically made for your cat’s individual health, life stage and tastes by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, who will work with both you and your vet.

Once you have the diet created, it’s vital that you do not change it AT ALL.

drawing of cat wearing apron, cap, holding meat pie

That means ingredients and quantities must always be the same or the balance is thrown off.

A word of warning… Internet recipes are almost always disastrously inadequate, unbalanced and incomplete, and do more harm than good.

Balance, balance, balance is the key!

If you decide this is too much for you and you’re fine with commercial wet or dry food, that’s fine.

Most people don’t have time to deal with the complexities of homemade meals.

That doesn’t mean they love their cats any less!

graphics of cat food & cat

There’s no reason to feel you have to feed a homemade or raw diet, despite what some people try to guilt you into doing.

Commercial foods from reputable, established companies are complete and balanced meals and have science to back them up.

See more about evaluating cat food companies at “Cat Food Companies – Which Are Best?

This veterinarian’s video is very important to watch before deciding…

“Home Cooking For Your Cat or Dog – Should You? A Veterinarian Explains” (Pet Nutrition Part III), Vet Med Corner, April 22, 2022

Discover more about nutrition and feeding cats at these related pages…


Cat Food!How Is Cat Food Made?
Cat Food Companies – Which Are Best?Cat Food Recalls – What Do They Mean?
Meat By Products In Cat FoodPet Food Regulations & Oversight
Reading Cat Food LabelsHow to Feed a Cat
Cat Food & Water BowlsCat Food Puzzles
What Nutrients Do Cats Need?Are Carbs Bad for Cat?
Can Cats Drink Milk?Food for Kittens – Giving Them Good Nutrition
What Vitamins Do Cats Need?What’s the Best Cat Food?
Dry Cat Food (Kibble)Big Cat Food Paying Off Vets & Other Myths
Raw Cat Food – Good or Bad?Raw Meat Diet for Cats – Benefits vs. Risks
The Best Cat Food BrandsThe Best Kitten Food
Wet Cat FoodCat Food Allergies & Sensitivities
Dental Care for CatsFat Cats – Unhealthy or Cute?
What’s a Veterinary Nutritionist?

Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own. Sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

A-G

Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, DVM & James M. Giffin, MD, Howell Book House, New York, NY, 1995, pp. 345-354, 386-7

“Commercial vs. Homemade Cat Food Diets, What You Need to Know”, by Cecilia Villaverde BVSc, PhD, Diplomate ECVCN, DACVIM (Nutrition) and Marge Chandler DVM, MS, MANZCVS, DACVIM (SAIM, Nutrition), MRCVS, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 2022

Cornell Veterinary Experts Address Feline Nutrition” video webinar featuring Bruce Kornreich, DVM, PhD, Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Nutrition), DACVSMR, Kurt Venator, D.V.M., and Laura Goodman, PhD, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, April 30,2021

The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies by the editors of Prevention Pets™ Books, Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus, PA, 1996, pp. 181-184, 192-194

Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Secrets to the Natural Health of Dogs & Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn, Rodale, New York, NY, 2005, pp. 3-118

Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers” by Lorelei A Wakefield, Frances S Shofer, Kathryn E Michel, J Am Vet Med Assoc, July 1, 2006 (PubMed – nih.gov)

Evaluation of recipes for home-prepared diets for dogs and cats with chronic kidney disease” by Jennifer A Larsen, Elizabeth M Parks, Cailin R Heinze, Andrea J Fascetti – J Am Vet Med Assoc, March 1, 2012, PubMed (nih.gov)

Feeding the Pregnant Cat” by Krista Williams, BSc, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM, VCA Animal Hospitals

Feeding Your Cat“, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, July 2017

Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition” by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, CatInfo.org, Updated Nov 2016

Feline Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians by Bonnie V. Beaver, DVM, MS, Dept. of Small Animal Medicine & Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1992, p. 103, 109, 171-186, 189-191

H-N

How Much Should Cats Eat And How Often” by Dr. Pete Wedderburn, DVM, All About Cats, Updated Jul 29, 2022

Low Number of Owner-Reported Suspected Transmission of Foodborne Pathogens From Raw Meat-Based Diets Fed to Dogs and/or Cats” by Nicole Renee Cammack, Ryan Michael Yamka, and Vicki Jean Adams, Frontiers (frontiersin.org), October 12, 2021

The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health, Home Edition, Cynthia M. Kahn, BA, MA, Editor, Scott Line, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACVB, Associate Editor, with Editorial Board, Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ, 2007, pp. 337, 440, 453, 493, 1058, 1194, 1246

Natural Cat Care by Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D., Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. & Castle Books, Division of Book Sales Inc., Edison, NJ, 2000, pp. 47-102

Natural Health Care for Your Cat by Dr. Rudolf Deiser, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., Hauppauge, NY, 1997, pp. 12-15, 106-7

“Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats” by National Research Council (Author), Division on Earth and Life Studies (Author), & 3 more

“Nutrition & Nutritional Disorders” – Veterinary Pediatrics: Dogs and Cats from Birth to Six Months by Johnny D. Hoskins, DVM, PhD, Professor, Veterinary Clinical Medicine, Louisiana State University, School of Veterinary Medicine, W.B. Saunders Company, a Division of Harcourt Brace & Company, Philadelphia, PA, 1995, 2nd edition, pp. 511-524

O-Z

Pet Food Decisions: How Do You Pick Your Pet’s Food?” by Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Nutrition), Clinical Nutrition Service, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, Petfoodology, Dec 16, 2019

Pet Nutrition Myth Busters: How to Select the Best Food for Your Pet“, by Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN

Salmonella bacteriuria in a cat fed a Salmonella-contaminated diet” by Erika Fauth, Lisa M Freeman, Lilian Cornjeo, Jessica E Markovich, Nicol Janecko, J Scott Weese, Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association, Sept 1, 2015

Salmonella Infection in Cats“, PetMD

Septicemic salmonellosis in two cats fed a raw-meat diet” by Shane L Stiver, Kendall S Frazier, Michael J Mauel, Eloise L Styer, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, Nov-Dec 2003

Veterinary Nutritionist Explains What To Feed Your Pet“, DVM Cellini, May 13, 2021

What’s the Best Food for Your Dog and Cat? A Veterinarian Explains” by Dr. Em, DVM, Vet Med Corner, April 2022

Why Balancing Your Pet’s Homemade Meals Is Important“, Paws of Prey, January 26, 2021

Updated January 9, 2023

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