Easy Homemade Diets for Cats

By Jean Hofve, DVM

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cats-eating.jpgHomemade diets are great for our cats. By making your cat's food at home, you control the quality of the ingredients, and commercial food additives such as colorings and preservatives can be avoided. Once you get the hang of it, homemade food is both time and cost-efficient. It's definitely worth the effort!

Before you put your companion cat on a home-prepared diet, Dr. Jean strongly recommends that you discuss your decision with your veterinarian or a holistic veterinarian in your area who understands nutrition and is comfortable with home-made diets. For a list of holistic veterinary practitioners by state, visit

Dr. Jean also suggests you obtain one or more of the following books, so that you have a more complete understanding of feline nutritional needs. It is essential that you follow any diet's recommendations closely, including all ingredients and supplements. Failure to do so may result in serious health consequences for your animal companion.

* It's for the Animals! Natural Care & Resources. Helen L. McKinnon. C.S.A. Inc. Available from It's for the Animals!; P.O. Box 1913; Fairview, NC 28730; toll-free 1-888-339-IFTA (4382).

* Natural Cat Care. Celeste Yarnall. Available from Celestial Pets.

* Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative. Donald R. Strombeck, DVM. Iowa State University Press. ISBN 0813821495. (Note: feline recipes are too low in taurine, and many recipes are slightly low in calcium.)

* Raising Cats Naturally. Michelle Bernard.

lots of cats eating.jpegThese recipes have not been formally analyzed or tested, but they are reasonably well-balanced for long-term use. Please read and understand all instructions before beginning! NEVER SKIP VITAMINS OR OTHER SUPPLEMENTS--THEY ARE CRUCIAL TO YOUR PET'S LONG-TERM HEALTH!

Variety is crucial to your cat's health! (This applies to any and all diets and recipes!) Do not get in the habit of feeding just one or two combinations of ingredients.

To make a large batch of food, increase portions and mix protein source, oil, vegetables, and calcium together. Freeze in meal-sized portions. Vitamins/minerals, enzymes, and probiotics should be added fresh at each meal.

The recipes utilize a good quality human supplement. Some of the cheaper human supplements, particularly those with a heavy coating such as One-A-Day, are not well digested even by people and should not be used for animals. Cats should get 1/2 of a human supplement per day.

Alternatively, you can use a specially made dog or cat vitamin supplement, such as Dr. Goodpet or Nu-Cat. (There are many good animal supplements available at your local feed store or health food store). Be sure to use the recommended amount.

You can grind up the supplements with a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle to add to the food; or get the kind that comes in capsules, and open the capsule and empty the powder into the food.

Probiotics include L. acidophilus and other "good" bacteria. They help maintain your cat's normal bacterial population and prevent colonization by disease-causing bacteria. Digestive enzymes are important to keep the pancreas from being overworked, and to aid digestion so your cat gets the greatest benefit from the food she eats. Human supplements can be used at the full human dose; they are impossible to overdose.

cat_food_bowl.jpgMeat may be fed cooked or raw. Meat amounts are given in raw weight. (While many holistic veterinarians recommend feeding raw meat, there are potential risks to your companion animal's health from bacterially contaminated meat. Please discuss this issue with your veterinarian before feeding raw meat.) If feeding raw, it is recommended that meat be frozen for 72 hours at -4 degrees F prior to use to kill encysted parasites. Most meats can be refrozen one time safely, so once you mix the meal, it can be put back in the freezer until thawed for feeding. Raw ground beef is not recommended; if used, it must be organic.

Feeding bones presents many risks; even raw bones can cause cracked teeth and intestinal impactions. Whole bones are not recommended. You can, however, substitute ground bone for bone meal in the recipes. Bone meal must be edible, human grade. Do not use bone meal intended for gardening or plants!

Cats should NOT be fed a non-meat diet. There are many potential problems and unanswered questions on the issue of vegetarian cats. Evidence is clear that cats are obligate carnivores who do best on a meat-based diet.

For cats, use ONE protein source. Meats vary tremendously in fat content; poultry is much lower in fat than any mammal meat, so do not exceed recommended amounts unless you are trying to put weight on your pet! Always follow standard safe meat handling procedures.

Diet for adult cats

Feed adult cats two or three times a day. Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Recipe makes 2 days' worth of food for an average 10-lb. adult cat. Increase for kittens, decrease for overweight cats.

Choose one protein source (meat amounts given in raw weight)

* 16 oz boneless skinless chicken white meat, minced

* 16 oz boneless skinless chicken dark meat, minced

* 15 oz boneless skinless turkey white meat, minced

* 14 oz boneless skinless turkey dark meat, minced

* 12 oz organic ground beef, 95% lean

* 12 oz domestic rabbit, minced

* 8 oz ground lamb or bison

* 8 oz pound beef, chicken or turkey heart, ground or minced

* 2 chopped hard-boiled or scrambled eggs may be substituted for 1/4 of any meat

* Optional: once a week, substitute 4 oz organic liver for 1/2 of any meat

* For a lower protein/phosphorus diet, substitute egg whites for 1/3 of any meat and 1/2 cup white rice (not quick-cooking) for 1/3 of any meat.


* 1 slightly rounded tbsp bone meal (human grade)

* 1/2 tsp salt (sodium chloride)

* 1/2 salt substitute (potassium chloride)

* 1/4 multiple vitamin-mineral supplement including choline (human quality), powdered

* 1 probiotic/digestive enzyme supplement

* 1 capsule taurine 500 mg, or 1 tablet 500 mg powdered

* With poultry, add 1 tsp fish oil per pound of meat

* Optional: 1 jars organic vegetable baby food (sweet potato, garden vegetables, spinach); avoid corn and potatoes due to high carbohydrate content.

holistic_cat_food.jpgCats have no need for vegetables, but mixing all the supplements together with some nice juicy baby food before adding the meat makes the process a whole lot easier. It doesn't hurt them at all, and if mine are any judge, it adds a little flavor. Freeze what will not be eaten in 24 hours.

Pay attention to your animal companion's health: his weight, energy level, skin condition, odor, coat quality, stool consistency, and oral health. If these are not maintaining or improving, consult your veterinarian about changing elements of the diet.

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This article was adapted from it's original to focus only on cats, the original article addressed a homemade diet for both dogs and cats. I removed the information about dogs. To read the article in its entirety, visit Little Big Cat, Easy Homemade Diets for Cats.


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