If you’re making homemade cat food, you’re following a recipe. At least, I hope you are. Not following one can be disastrous. Recipes matter. You really can’t feed whatever you want. We don’t recommend trying to formulate one from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is rocket science. Part of our message is that you don’t have to have an advanced degree in nutrition to feed your cat properly. That’s the argument big pet food companies try to use to discredit it. They say it shouldn’t be left to amateurs. By that logic, no mother should be allowed to take her infant home from the hospital. She isn’t qualified to feed it.
Feeding your cat a nutritionally-balanced diet isn’t hard, but you can’t just wing it. You need to follow an established recipe from a trusted source. “Feline Nutrition’s Easy Homemade Cat Food Recipe” has been used for many years, with thousands of cats. Not everything is known about what cats need – something big pet food companies won’t tell you. The major nutrients are pretty well established, at least the minimums and sometimes the maximums necessary. But even these are not hard, exact numbers; you need to get in that range. By using a trusted recipe, you follow in the footsteps of others who have done the hard work.
We do recommend you try other established recipes from time to time. Why? No one knows everything. A different recipe may cover something no one else realizes is important. As with the kinds of meat you feed, variety helps cover all the bases. It ensures that nutrition is as good as we can get it. Choose your recipes carefully. Not every recipe you find on the internet is nutritionally balanced. I’ve seen recipes that call for rice, potatoes or peas. this isn’t a sound diet for an obligate carnivore.
Whichever recipe you choose, or if you use a pre-mixed supplement added to raw meat, you need to do it accurately. You can’t decide to omit an ingredient because you couldn’t find it. Many recipes cited as unbalanced involve a radical drift from good recipe-following practices. Our friend Anne Jablonski has a rather frightening example of this. A woman’s raw-fed cat became sickly and fragile. She had read but hadn’t confirmed, that bone was “irritating” to a cat’s digestive system. She was tired of cleaning the bone bits out of the grinder as well. So, she eliminated the bone from the recipe without providing a calcium replacement. The cat had been fed a calcium-deficient diet for four years and was dissolving its own bones to compensate.
Follow a homemade recipe, use a good pre-mix or feed complete frozen meals. Better yet, do all of these, and add some well-sourced whole meats. Mix up the menu. Variety is good. Don’t give critics ammunition to oppose feeding cats a natural, healthy and balanced diet.
Making homemade cat food isn’t hard, but you need to make sure kitty is eating it. I have a cautionary tale from personal experience for others in a multi-cat household. As recommended, I feed supplemented ground raw cat food along with meat chunks to give them some good chewing exercise. With as many cats as we have, mealtime is a communal affair. I put out the food, come back in 15 minutes and it’s gone. Once, after adding whole meats to the menu, I stuck around and watched. I wanted to see who liked what. I discovered one cat was eating only the meat chunks. I checked a few more times. She did it again. I was glad I observed this behavior before anything went amiss. A meat-only diet is unbalanced without supplements and calcium.
If you feed more than one cat, be sure they are eating the food you so carefully made for them. It may be complete and nutritionally balanced, but that won’t matter if they find a way not to eat it.