Last Updated on November 27, 2021 by Jenny
When it comes to caring for their cats, all cat owners absolutely want the best for their furry friends. And if you already have a cat as your beloved companion, you may already know what it’s like to want your pet to feel comfortable and taken care of. This includes looking at aspects such as offering healthy meals, entertainment options, and socializing possibilities, apart from a comfortable environment.
However, you’ll find that when it comes to planning meals for your cat, the information out there can be confusing. The market for cat food has exploded in recent years, boasting now a wide variety of food products, starting from cheaper options that don’t really cover all the nutritional needs your cat may have and reaching top products that are veterinarian-recommended and that make a difference in any cat’s life.
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You’ll also find there are a lot of cat owners out there that have started preparing meals for their cats on their own, at home, setting aside all the food items they can find on the market.
Other owners have started relying on feeding their cats raw meals. Some veterinarians may not be in favor of either DIY cat food or raw cat diets, so you may feel deterred before choosing one of these paths.
In order to make sure the diet you choose for your cat is a healthy option, talk to your veterinarian about it and its implications on your cat’s health. It is best to be informed and your vet can provide information that is specific to your cat’s medical history and specific needs.
Contrary to some beliefs out there, serving your cat homemade food can actually be very healthy and nutritious, granted you take the time and dedication needed to prepare these meals with consideration to your cat’s needs. The possibilities are endless, you can very well prepare a meat dish or even your very own homemade cat gravy.
Before we look at three DIY homemade cat food recipes, let’s see what cats usually need to sustain a healthy lifestyle and immune system.
What Are a Cat’s Typical Dietary Needs?
It’s very important to remember when cooking your own healthy homemade cat food that cats are essentially carnivore, so you should take into consideration these cat nutritional needs before carrying on:
- Minerals are essential for the well-being of all living mammals and this is because they play a crucial role in pH balance, nutrient use, enzyme formation, and oxygen transportation. The minerals a cat needs include potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, chloride, and potassium.
- Calcium is present in leguminous plants, meat, organ tissues, bones, and teeth.
- Magnesium is found in milk, whole grains, fish, and soybeans.
- Vitamins are also incredibly important for your cat’s health and they can usually be found in the raw materials from your cat’s food and this is why it’s essential to strike a balance between the various ingredients you feed your cat with.
- Cats need vitamin A, vitamin D, and all B vitamins. These are the most important ones that will help it build a sturdy immune system that keeps it at bay from diseases.
- Vitamin A is extremely important for your cat’s healthy vision and immune system. However, be mindful that too much vitamin A in its diet can end up becoming toxic for your furry friend.
- Vitamin D will play an important part in the normal functioning of the muscles, nerves, and bones. This is also a vitamin that should not be consumed in excess by your cat.
- The suite of B vitamins will help your cat have healthier skin and coat, while also regulating nerve impulse transmission. These vitamins also help with proper gastrointestinal functions, good functioning of the nervous system, and proper energy usage throughout the body.
Any complete cat diet should contain animal proteins in abundance since cats are primarily carnivore.
- Animal proteins are at the basis of tendons, hair, skin, blood, tissues, cartilage, muscles, and even the heart. This shows exactly just how important it is to respect the fact that cats are carnivores and feed them a diet that incorporates meat as the main ingredient.
- In order for your cat to get sufficient animal protein, it’s important to look at feeding it fish, chicken, turkey, or beef. Eggs will also cover the need for animal protein, granted that it will be in smaller amounts.
Fats are cats’ main energy source, so make sure your chosen diet for them includes plenty of fatty goods.
- Meat and fish naturally contain the kind of fats that are otherwise known as ‘good fats’, together with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
- Fats help maintain a cat’s body temperature and absorb the much-needed vitamins mentioned above. They also give your feline the energy it needs to stay active, curious, and playful throughout the day.
This one may seem counterintuitive to many, but a little known fact about cats is that they tend to consume less water than their body actually needs in order to maintain a healthy balance. This is why it’s generally indicated that you don’t feed your cat dry food only.
- As they are 70% water themselves, cats need to replenish these resources and the only way to do it is through adequate food, since you may not be able to convince them to drink more water.
- Water is this important to a cat’s body because it helps it eliminate toxins, better metabolize nutrients, and distribute them correctly, while also helping maintain the feline’s body temperature at optimum levels.
- An inadequate water intake will lead to all sorts of health conditions for your cat, including kidney issues, which are never fun.
This is another crucial ingredient that must be constant in your cat’s diet.
- Taurine is an essential amino acid that can’t be independently created, your cat can only get it from specific foods.
- All cats that don’t get enough taurine in their diet will mostly suffer from heart problems, vision issues and will find it overall difficult to thrive.
- You can ensure your cat gets the necessary amount of taurine for its well-being by feeding it dark chicken meat, eggs, shellfish, beef, lamb, and cold-water fish.
- Thankfully, taurine is also available as powdered supplements, which you can always easily order online. Talk to your vet before including these types of supplements in your cat’s diet. The vet can instruct the correct quantity of taurine supplement to administer if he or she considers it necessary. Dr. Jean Hofve told us about the effects of taurine in an interview. ‘As long as you’re feeding a good quantity and quality of meat, you’re probably fine but when you’re talking about commercial pet food quality and quantity, not a sure thing.’
Nowadays carbohydrates are always surrounded by ominous warnings. However, they are quite beneficial to your cat’s health, since they give it a jolt of energy in a form that’s highly digestible by the body.
- These carbohydrates can typically be found in many wet cat foods and they are pre-treated, which means they are meant to be digested quickly by your feline’s body.
- If you feed your cat uncooked legumes and soybeans, you need to be mindful that the carbohydrates they contain may be paired with many other antinutritional elements that may harm your cat.
Things to Keep In Mind Before Cooking for Your Cat
Before you start cooking for your cat, there are some aspects that you need to be mindful of:
- Older cats and cats with more sensitive gastrointestinal systems will benefit more from cooked meals, since cooked food can be easier on their bodies than raw meals, for example.
- If you choose to cook meat for your cats, be mindful that your cat may still enjoy its meat rare. Not only does this make an ideal preference for your cat, but it’s also more nutritionally beneficial for it. The secret in it is that raw cooked meat still holds those healthy enzymes that benefit your cat’s well-being, while the surface becomes clear of bacteria through the cooking process. Apart from this, the meat will stay moist and nice – an excellent treat for your cat.
- In cooking for your furry friend, always avoid sausage meat and other processed meat, as they may contain sulfite preservatives that are toxic for your cats. Please note that any meat you feed to your cat raw or rare should be meat that has been checked by a veterinary specialist before – such as the mean you purchase commercially, which goes through a thorough checkup before it is sold. After all, switching to cooked food is all about finding healthier alternatives to the options generally available on the cat food market.
- Cooked bones are a strict ‘no’ for your cat. This is because they tend to splinter at high temperatures and each such tiny splinter can damage the intestines of your cat. In this case, it’s better to prevent than to cure, so it’s recommended that you avoid cooked bones altogether. However, you can add ground bones together with your meat, in order to supply your cat with both calcium and phosphorus, two minerals it needs abundantly.
- Before you start cooking for your furry friend, make sure you’re aware of all its cat food allergies, if any. This way you both can have an easy and rewarding transition to a homemade cooked food diet.
Knowing all this about a cat’s most essential dietary needs, let’s see what three DIY homemade cat food recipes you can follow quite easily in your kitchen:
1. Healthy Meat Mix
For this homemade cat food recipe, you’ll need several different ingredients that also have alternatives, in case you don’t find the initial suggestions. Please be mindful that this recipe, as seen on catinfo.org, is not recommended as homemade cat food for kidney disease.
- 3 pounds of poultry of which you can choose either thigh meat, skin, or bones.
- The alternative is 2 – 2.25 lbs of whole carcass ground rabbit + 0.75 – 1 lb of boneless chicken or turkey fat, skin or meat.
- Depending on how much water your cat usually drinks, you can add 1 cup of water or even more to the recipe. This will improve its urinary tract.
- 2 eggs – (optional) You will need to boil the white for around 3-4 minutes while leaving the yolk raw.
- 5,000 – 10,000 mg fish oil, since it’s incredibly beneficial to cats, due to its fatty acids. 5-10 capsules of the average If you’re using 1,000 mg capsules, 5-10 should be enough. Use 2,000 mg if your cat is not fond of fish. Please avoid using cod liver oil, since the liver in this recipe already contains vitamins A and D.
- Vitamin E – 400 IU (268 mg) – the easiest form to use is the capsule version of powdered vitamin E.
- Vitamin B – complex 50 – 1 capsule or tablet. If you notice your cat doesn’t like the food, you can do the next batch with only half a capsule at 25 mg.
- 2,000 mg taurine – the easiest way to find and use taurine is in its powdered version – capsules or loose.
- 1 tsp Morton Lite salt with iodine – if you’re using the entire chicken, but be sure to only use 1/2 tablespoons when using the rabbit and chicken combination. If you don’t have access to this, simply use ¾ tsp of regular salt with iodine and 14 tablets of potassium gluconate (99 mg each).
- Liver – There’s no need to add any more liver if you’re using ground rabbit. If you’re going the chicken route, you can add 3-4 ounces of chicken livers per 3 lb of skin/meat/bones.
When you’re using the ground rabbit, you will need too:
- Mix the ground rabbit with the chunked chicken or turkey.
- Add all the supplements mentioned above to water and stir until dissolved. Once it’s properly dissolved, you can add this to the skin/meat/bones, eggs, and liver combination.
- Thoroughly mix everything until you get a smooth composition.
- Portion into containers.
- Place in the freezer.
2. Basic Fresh Raw Food Recipe
This fresh raw food recipe, as seen on www.littlebigcat.com, is quite easy to prepare and also comes with plenty of alternative ingredients, in case you can’t procure the original suggested ones. For this delicious meal, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- NutriBiotic Grapefruit Seed Extract – it’s best if you dilute this in water
- 1 pound meat, preferably organic. This could also be poultry such as chicken, ostrich, or quail – be sure to ground the meat or cut into appropriate chunks. You can even combine these meats for added variety.
- 4 oz. organic liver.
- 1 tablespoon organic hemp seed oil, flaxseed oil, or walnut oil. You can also use organic safflower or organic sunflower oil as alternatives.
- If you’re not using meat, you can use 2 chopped hard-boiled or scrambled eggs each 1/4 of any type of meat.
- Pinch of Himalayan or Celtic finely ground pink salt.
- Omega-3 supplement.
- 500 milligrams taurine (in powdered or capsule form).
- A little bit of liquid garlic.
- Complete Vitamin-Mineral Supplement made specifically for homemade diets. These are essential add-ons to the recipe if you’re planning to switch to an all-homemade food diet.
- Alternative #1: You can also use a probiotic supplement.
- Alternative #2: 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Digestive Enzyme supplement. You can mix it straight into the food while serving it to your cat.
- Alternative #3: 2 – 4 oz non-starchy vegetables in their steamed and/or pureed form – spinach, broccoli, kale, sprouts, yellow squash, zucchini are all great finds.
- Alternative #4: You can easily add up to 1 tablespoon of ground Chia seeds if you feel your cat could do with more fiber.
- It’s indicated that you freeze your meat for 72 hours before feeding it to your cat, in order to kill off any parasitic cysts and worm larvae.
- Cut the organ meats into bite-size chunks that are specifically appropriate for your cat.
- Mix all the ingredients above into one delicious composition.
- Let it settle and cool off for 30-60 minutes and then serve to your cats or kittens.
3. Chicken Thighs With Bones Recipe
This excellent homemade cat food recipe comes from www.feline-nutrition.org and covers your cat’s basic nutritional needs. You will need the following:
- 4.5 pounds chicken thighs including bone. In order to keep an appropriate calcium/phosphorus ratio, be sure to remove about 20 to 25% of the bone from the total amount of meat you’re using. The skin is not recommended if your cats are already chubby. The remaining chicken bones should only be used for boiling.
- 14 ounces (400 grams) raw chicken heart. If you don’t have access to it, replace it with 4,000 mg Taurine.
- 4 raw egg yolks.
- 7 ounces of raw chicken liver.
- 8 ounces of bottled water.
- 2000 mg Taurine, in addition to the one you may have used to substitute the hearts.
- 200 IU Vitamin E
- 4000 mg wild salmon or wild-caught small fish oil
- 200 mg Vitamin B Complex
- 4 teaspoons Psyllium Husk Powder (optional)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Lite Iodized Salt
- Remove the skin from the chicken thighs, as indicated above.
- Open up the supplements and empty them in a mixing bowl. Keep the fish oil capsules for later on in the process.
- In the same bowl, add the water and the egg yolks. Mix them all together.
- Cut up the meat from the thighs in smaller chunks.
- Feed the meat to the grinder. Then gradually add in the liver, heart, and fish oil capsules.
- Add it to a larger bowl, once it’s ground. Then add in the slurry mixture, the meat you’ve chunked, and the psyllium husk. Mix everything thoroughly.
- Separate your mixture into containers and freeze it, so you can then feed your cat at a later date. Refrigerate portions that you intend to serve on the same day or the next day.
All this homemade cat food contained in three recipes that you can cook by yourself, at home, holds immense nutritional value for your cat. Be sure to procure the ingredients from organic sources, so your cat is as protected as it can be from toxic chemical residues and other harmful substances.
Chances are your cat will transition very easily to the new cooked diet, since it includes the meat they so often crave and need for their body to function at its full capacity. The transition to the homemade cat food should be done gradually, as with any other change regarding the cat’s diet.
Sudden changes in its diet could cause digestive issues and the cat could get diarrhea. At the same time, keep an eye on the way your cat feels, looks, and all other changes that may become visible.
Be sure to follow all the safety protocols when preparing your cat’s meals, such as properly washing the vegetables and washing your hands before touching the meat.
In the end, it’s all about finding healthy alternatives to whatever already exists in terms of food on the market. Cooking special meals for your cats will certainly require you to cut a slice out of your personal schedule in order to deliver, but the amount you cook will last long enough for your effort to feel rewarding.
What’s more, your cat may become healthier, more active, and may even thrive thanks to you and your willingness to do what’s best for it.
READER SUBMISSION: Written and submitted by Patti McTee
“I discovered the importance of a raw food diet for cats and dogs when our golden retriever became irreversibly sick from eating store-bought dry and canned dog food. It was considered one of the best brands, but it was cooked. Cooked food not only cooks away most of the nutrients, but is not an appropriate diet for obligate carnivores…cats and dogs.
This was a shock to me, especially because I had been a veterinary technician for many years and never once heard this. In the hopes of saving our beloved dog, I found a wonderful holistic veterinarian who schooled me on a proper diet.
Sadly it was too late for our dog, but I knew then that I would use this info with all my pets going forward. About a year ago, we adopted a rescue cat, a 10-month old female tuxedo, DSH.
What a doll! And like most kitties, she had been eating dry food. I began to transition her slowly to a raw food diet and within a month, she was eating raw food only. The diet I developed for her was based on her personal preferences regarding proteins mostly.
Most everything I use is organic, but that may or may not be in your budget. I recommend feeding the best you feel is reasonable and affordable. If all organic is not doable, just use the best you can. Even no organic ingredients will be SO much better than dead cooked food.
I make 5 lbs at a time, which lasts my cat, Baby, 1 month. And after much practice, it only takes me about 1 1/2 hrs to make. Each daily amount is about the size of a mouse. 🙂
Baby’s favorite recipe: 3 lb ground grass-fed beef with organs 2 lb organic ground chicken 6 oz chicken or beef liver minced 1 wild caught sardine packed in water 1/3 cup minced organic sugar-free coconut 1/3 cup organic blueberries 1 1/2 cups raw organic spinach 1 stalk organic celery 1 small organic carrot 2 or more cups of filtered water 1 tbsp salmon flavored vetzlife oral care gel 3 tbsp bone meal 2 tbsp grass-fed powdered gelatin
The purpose of the fruit, veggies, and coconut are for fiber, and is basically what she would have consumed hunting because prey animals generally eat fruit/veggies and is usually the contents of their stomach.
Defrost meat in your refrigerator. Leaving it out to defrost will greatly increase the chance of it spoiling. Add all meats and a sardine to a large bowl. Blend fruit and veggies to minced in a food processor or nutribullet/blender with 2 or more cups of fresh filtered water. The water will help balance the moisture level when adding bone meal and gelatin later. Add all remaining ingredients and either mix by hand or with a stick blender.
Either way has pros and cons. Mixing it by hand is easier to clean up afterwards but the cold meat is hard on your hands. The hand blender is easier on your hands but rather difficult to clean. I prefer doing it by hand now.
I’ve tried many storage methods, but the one I like the most is to use disposable condiment 5.5 oz condiment cups. Filling each one about 3/4 full is perfect for an average 12 lb cat. You will definitely need more for a larger floppycat. So you will just need to adjust the size of daily portions as needed for your kitty.
It’s a good idea to store the majority of your cat food in a chest freezer, one you don’t open often, to help prevent spoilage. Then transfer a few days worth to your kitchen freezer as needed.
The type of proteins you use will depend on what you discover your cat(s) prefer. It’s important to have a variety, so I often sub turkey, salmon, and rabbit when able. If your cat is willing at some point to eat meat from raw chicken wings, rabbit, etc, that is ideal regarding needs for bone and gelatin. Some love that feeding method. My cat does not, so I use powdered.
I found a local farm just 2 hours from me that sells grass-fed high omega 3 meats and pet foods that ship overnight. And I found their prices to be reasonable. You will just need to do some research of your best local resources. I love using short, wide, glass food dishes. They prevent whisker fatigue and are easy to clean. And I love the ones you have probably seen here on Floppycats.
But I found another more in my budget at Petco that works great as well. By the way, with raw food, it is very important to put your cat’s dish in the sink after feeding, and use a fresh dish for each meal. I work from home now, which makes raw feeding much easier, but no matter your schedule, you can do this! I feed Baby 4 times a day, typically 4 hours apart.
For some great tips on how and why to transition your cat to a raw food diet, I recommend checking out Mercola healthy pets. They have a series of videos on YouTube hosted by Dr Becker. She is a great resource!
I have attached links to most of the product/ingredients I use, along with some pics I hope will be helpful. Grass-fed bone meal is best, this is just the one I bought last.
I also recommend a smaller portion size for individual meals. It will come in handy when you need to have a pet sitter for going out of town. My pet food dishes – “bowlmates”
I buy my shredded coconut, wild caught sardines, produce, and ground chicken at Sprouts grocery store. And my grass-fed beef with organs from Slanker grass-fed meats in Powderly, TX.
What’s she’s found from feeding her kitty raw:
- absolutely no poop odor in the litter box. Seriously, none. She only has a small amount of waste and there is no odor to it whatsoever. I’m sure that is due to the higher quality of food.
- On this raw food diet, I’ve noticed my cat seems to have a much stronger instinct. When I am walking toward her placemat to set her food down, she stretches both of her back legs as she walks to the food. LOL. Apparently this is how a cat will get his/her legs ready for the hunt.
- Watching her rip through the house as fast as her legs will carry her after eating is hilarious. Her nutritional needs have been met. She’s all fat and sassy. And will run so fast that in the process of trying to stop, she is skating across the hardwood floor on her claws. So funny and so entertaining.
- And lastly, I actually spend less making this high quality cat food than I ever did in buying it at the big box stores. Then there’s going to be an obvious savings on veterinary bills because the cat is always going to be healthier eating this kind of diet. So that’s a nice perk.
What’s your experience so far with feeding your cat a cooked diet? Have you tried raw food as well? What are some of the homemade cat food recipes that you’ve tried and how has your cat responded to them? Please comment below and share the information you’ve discovered so that other cats may soon enjoy a much healthier lifestyle. Further read: Homemade Raw Cat Food for Ragdoll Cats: One Reader’s Journey