It isn’t hard but you need to be consistent
Homemade food better suits your cat. Preparation of homemade food isn’t hard but you need to be consistent. It is crucial to have the appropriate recipe, ideally checked and approved by a veterinarian, because otherwise it might be nutritionally deficient. Like human food, cat food must be complete and tailored to the feline needs. In contrast to humans, however, cats consume a more limited number of foodstuffs and have a more monotonous diet.
The basic cat food are meat and meat products and they should be given every day. You can opt and combine for two types of meat, which are available to you in an acceptable quality. Certain vegetables and pulses could be added to these meats too, as vegetables are backup foods, i.e. the feline body doesn’t completely extract nutrients from them. Edible offal might be used a couple of times weekly and fish could be put in the menu once a week or every two weeks. Dairy products must be rarely given, separated from the meat, apart or with pulses and mashed. Added fats are to be given daily if the food doesn’t content enough of the necessary fatty acids, and vitamins and supplements we add according to the diet and age. The food has to be room temperature or slightly warmed.
One of the most important issue concerning the homemade cat food is its thermal treatment. The natural feline food is raw meat. In this form it is most nutrient- and vitamin-rich.
On the one hand, thermal treatment makes the meat easier to digest, kills the bacteria and the parasites but decreases its nutritive value.
On the other hand, when the meat is raw, it contains more nutritional substances, but its consumption is causes more stress for the digestive system.
Raw meat issues arise not because of the way the animals are kept, but rather due to the meat transportation and storage. Most of the pathogens in food evolves mainly on the surface, so the food may be washed in hot water or surface-backed. However, you can’t do that with every food. For example, the fish must be almost always fully boiled.
The ways of thermal treatment of cat food slightly differs from the ways we prepare human food. Cats are carnivores and the level of acidity in their stomachs is much higher. Healthy cats can fully extract the nutrients from raw meat. That’s why they need meet as a basic component of their diet. Thermal treatment is essential for two reasons – decreasing the risk of bacteria and parasites in the meat and facilitating the feline digestive process. The following choices are appropriate for cats out of the many ways of meat preparation:
Poultry – chicken and turkey
Chicken and turkey meat are an archetypal feline species food and cats can eat them every day. The preparation of homemade poultry cat food requires boiling or at least washing with hot water. Boning is crucial as bird bones are hollow and light and there is a danger of mechanical injuring of digestive system. You can give your cat cartilages and soft bones from the end of the chicken wings. They are very healthy, contain calcium, and are good for the teeth.
Because of its harder processing, the skin must be removed. It collects many of the additives to enhance growth performance that are being used in the industrial poultry farming. You need to be careful if your cat eats poultry food. Smaller local farm production is always preferable, and it also helps the sustainable regional development.
Rabbit, beef and veal meat
The meat may be minced, but for a healthy cat it’s best to be cut into 1 x 1 or 0,5 x 1,5 inch (~ 2,5 x 2,5 or 1 x 4 cm) pieces. That’s how your cat will chew longer, although cats can easily take their food half-chewed. The jaws and teeth are kept in a good condition when they are appropriately used.
Rabbit is an animal cats eat in the wild and its meat is quite suitable for cats after thermal treatment of any kind.
As a non-archetypal feline species food, veal meat could cause allergic reaction and stomach disorders to some cats. If this type of meat is well accepted, can be given as a part of a complete diet and as a homemade beef broth.
By-products – edible offal, cartilages and necks
Viscera contain less nutrients than meat, but still are important for feline body. If we are sure about the origin of the product, liver should be given raw, but not all cats react well to it. Don’t give it more than once a week and the amount should be up to 0,11 – 0,18 lbs (50 – 70 g). Liver might be spread in the daily ration too.
Chopped chicken necks keep the teeth in a good condition and set the jaws in motion. They should be boiled, as well as the cartilages and gizzards, and may be given once or twice a week.
Sea and ocean fish
The intake of fish should be cut down to once or twice a week. The best way is to let the fish boil before you give it to your cat. That’s how dangerous enzymes that can be present in certain types of fish get destroyed and bacteria and parasites contamination is being prevented. The risk to have them present is higher in river fish. That’s why sea and ocean fish are more suitable for cat’s ration. There is concern whether fish diet can cause kidney problems to cats, but it is not justified for boiled sea fish, especially if the latter is not consumed too often.
Big bones and the skin must be removed after boiling. Only small ocean fish with soft and tiny bones can be fed in whole. The smaller fish that are lower at the bottom of the food chain have lower levels of contamination.
Most suitable for cats are sea or ocean fishes that have low fat content. Avoid fatty fishes or put them in your cat’s menu only when it needs high-calorie food.
Concerns about illnesses and mutations in the fish industry or the metal content in the fish of some of them are issues, which are no less valid also for the fish foodstuffs for human consumption. That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of the origin of the fish and fish has to be given in limited amounts.
Feeding your cat only fish is not recommended. A good interval is once per one or two weeks. Although cats like fish, it isn’t their basic species food. It can, however, be mixed with vegetable ingredients as well.
Dairy products – milk, non-salty white cheese and quark
Adult cats do not well digest whole cream cow’s milk, because in old age the ability of the feline body to break down the lactose declines, which can result in gastrointestinal difficulties and diarrhea. If your cat is normally milk tolerant, goat’s milk is then more suitable, and it must be pasteurized.
For adult cats, quark or hard non-salty white cheese is recommended. They don’t have to be given together with meat or fish and you’d better pull dairy and meat nutrition away from each other. Quark with egg yolk for breakfast and meat for dinner is a good combination. Cheese must not contain salt and supplements. Its part in the feline menu is as a supplement, not as basic food.
Vegetables – carrots, zucchini and pumpkin
Vegetables must be boiled.. Raw fine-cut leaf lettuces can be a part of your cat’s diet. As such, vegetables are seldom attractive for cats, so they should be combined with meat that should have been thermally treated.
Eggs – egg yolk
Eggs are a good source of protein and contain a variety of vitamins and microelements. You may feed your cat with them apart once or twice a week or combined with other foodstuffs as a part of combined homemade food.
Fats – vegetable and fish oil
Cat nutrition includes also extra added fats to the main portions. For a 6,6 pound (3 kg) cat you should daily add 1 teaspoon of vegetable or non-vitaminized fish oil. Fish oil must not be mixed with dairy products, because there is a risk of gastrointestinal disorders. Generally, oils are healthy for cats, helping the liver function, preventing skin inflammations, improving the resilience to allergies and maintaining the fur in good condition. However, you must be careful with oils, particularly if your cat has a tendency towards portliness, as well as when combined with other caloric food having a high content of fats.
Vitamins and supplements
The need for vitamins and supplements is determined by the deficiencies of feline nutrition. If vitamins and supplements aren’t included in the menu, they are to be extra added. If the feeding is well-balanced and proper and the cat is healthy, vitamins and supplements aren’t necessary.
The main problem of holistic nutrition is the insufficient amount of calcium due to the removal of the bones. This can be solved either by using prepared supplements or though fresh bones minced with a professional meat grinder. The intake of extra vitamins and supplements is recommended also in view of the overall decrease of all nutrients as a result of their industrial production. The choice of extra nutrients is also influenced by the cat’s health and age. Before the intake of vitamins, you should consult with a veterinarian.
Plants contain vitamins and are necessary for the functioning of the digestive system. You should provide your cat with appropriate grass, like this one available in the shops, and to plant it in a pot that you put on a convenient place for your pet’s sake. Ideally it should be done regularly, because grass grows fast and its life-cycle is relatively short.
Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN; Marjorie L. Chandler, DVM, MS, DACVN, DACVIM; Beth A. Hamper, DVM, PhD, DACVN; Lisa P. Weeth, DVM, DACVN, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/full/10.2460/javma.243.11.1549
Kymythy R. Schultze, CN, Your Cat’s Nutritional Needs: The Basics, https://feline-nutrition.org/nutrition/your-cats-nutritional-needs-the-basics
C.A. Tony Buffington, Dry foods and risk of disease in cats, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387258/