Homemade Cat Food: The Pros & Cons Of Making Your Own Cat Food

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Commercial cat foods are safe, but do they provide your feline friend the vitamins and nutrients they need for optimal health and wellness? Experts would agree that most commercial cat diets are safe and effective. However, pet parents might want to take extra steps to ensure what they feed their cats is healthy, safe, and delectable. 

If you spoil your cat, you might wonder whether homemade cat food is a good option. Doing so has some potential benefits, such as avoiding dangerous recalls from manufacturers and helping to treat or reduce the side effects of some health issues, such as food allergies, while ensuring you give them something you know they'll love. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks, such as how time-consuming homemade cat food can be. You must also know about cat nutrition to ensure your ingredients are safe and healthy. 

Considering cooking for your cat? Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of making your own cat food. 

Benefits Of Homemade Cat Food

Devising your own homemade cat food recipes could be a fun way to provide your cat with quality food, and home cooked cat food may offer some benefits to our feline friends, including those with food allergies or intolerances. 

Benefits of home cooked cat food

A few benefits of home cooked cat food include the following: 

  • Control over the ingredients: Do you know what goes into your cat's food? Unfortunately, pet parents can't understand the nuances of the pet food industry. While you can read the ingredient list on the label, you can't control what goes into the food. When you make your own cat food, you control the specific ingredients and their quality to help avoid artificial flavors and preservatives. 
  • Avoid dangerous ingredients: In addition to controlling the type and quality of ingredients, you can also avoid potentially hazardous recipes and ingredients. If you follow pet food recalls, you'll know that even the top brands recall foods after reports of animals getting sick from them. When you make your own cat food, you don't have to worry about contaminants that can harm your pet. Instead, you know exactly what you're feeding them. 
  • Meet the demands of specific dietary needs: Cat food allergies are rare, but they can still happen to any cat regardless of breed, age, or health condition. Also, homemade cat food can improve disease management by helping you create a special diet for those with diabetes. 
  • Appeals to picky eaters: Many cat owners have experienced what it's like to have a picky eater. Of course, cat nutrition is essential for optimal health, so you must do everything possible to find food your cat enjoys. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. However, homemade food for cats can help you find the right ingredients to entice your cat to eat. 

While cooking for cats has many potential health benefits, the risks ultimately outweigh the rewards for pet owners. These individuals might not have the time to learn about their cat's specific nutritional needs and ensure they get all the essential vitamins and minerals they need for overall health and wellness. 

Drawbacks Of Home Cooked Cat Food

Cats have specific nutritional requirements. As you may already know, they're obligate carnivores, so they need a diet primarily of meat. Additionally, they can't taste sweetness and need certain nutrients from their diets because they can't make them on their own, such as vitamin A.1 

Drawbacks of home cooked cat food

Here are a few risks of making your own cat food:

  • May not be nutritionally balanced: What cats eat should give them the nutrition they need to live healthy lives. As we've mentioned, cats have specific dietary requirements, which commercial diets meet. Unfortunately, understanding your cat's specific needs is challenging. Cats can't make some nutrients on their own, so you'll have to ensure it's in their food, which means working with a veterinary nutritionist who can help you develop recipes that provide a complete and balanced diet. Otherwise, you risk nutritional deficiencies that impact your cat's overall health, potentially leading to muscle weakness, vision problems, heart issues, and other serious medical conditions.
  • Time-consuming and expensive: Learning how to feed your cat homemade food can be challenging and time-consuming. Firstly, you'll have to dedicate time every few days to making food. Since most pet parents don't know cat nutrition, they'll have to learn about the essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients cats need in their diets, which can be tedious. Additionally, they'll have to work with a veterinarian who knows the ins and outs of cat nutrition. Meanwhile, making cat food at home can be more expensive than buying canned food or dry kibble. 
  • Risk of accidental food poisoning: There are several human foods cats can eat. However, cats are obligate carnivores, so if you choose to make homemade cat food, you'll have to prepare meat. Additionally, you'll need to store their meals properly. Homemade cat food must be prepared every few days to prevent illnesses due to bacteria and germs. You’ll also have to monitor your pet's food bowl to ensure they're eating their meal within a few minutes or hours because the longer meat stays at room temperature, the more bacteria will grow. Any time you handle raw meat, you risk food poisoning. If you accidentally undercook your cat's food, they could become seriously ill and require an immediate trip to the vet. 

Alternatives To Homemade Cat Food

Always talk to your vet before giving your cat new food. Your cat's food should give them all the nutrients they need for optimal health. Unfortunately, if you don't know enough about cat nutrition, you risk your pet's health when feeding them a home cooked diet. Of course, homemade cat food can be a healthy option when pet parents are willing to learn as much as possible and properly prepare recipes. 

Talk to your vet to determine whether homemade cat food will meet the nutritional needs of your pets.

Talk to your veterinarian to determine whether your homemade recipes will meet the nutritional requirements of your cat. If this diet isn’t suitable for your pet, there are a few alternatives that can keep them healthy and satisfied. Here are a few options for cat food:

  • Dry cat food: Dry cat food is the most convenient option for pet parents because it's affordable and can last weeks. Unfortunately, kibble is less delectable than other options, so picky felines may avoid it at all costs. 
  • Semi-moist cat food: Semi-moist cat food is a balance between wet and dry cat food. It's not crunchy like dry food, but it's also less delicious than wet food. Additionally, moist cat food isn't a popular option because many additives exist, and several brands have poor-quality options. 
  • Wet cat food: Wet cat food is the most popular among cats because it's appetizing and smells like meat. Many pet parents feed their cats only wet food because it encourages them to eat. These foods are typically high-quality, and their moisture content can help keep your cat hydrated.

Homemade Food For Cats: FAQs

Is homemade cat food better and healthier?

No, homemade cat food is not better or healthier than a commercial diet. While you can control the ingredients you use to avoid processed foods, many pet parents don't have the time to learn about cat nutrition and may risk feeding their feline friends an unbalanced diet. 

That said, plenty of homemade cat food recipes can provide your pet with the nutrition they need. Additionally, pet parents can work with a veterinary nutritionist to ensure the foods they feed their cats are safe and healthy. 

How can I ensure my homemade cat food is safe?

The best way to ensure your homemade cat food is safe is to work with a vet. Only a veterinary nutritionist can help you determine whether your cat's food has the right balance of nutrients. Additionally, they can provide you with recipes and recommendations to ensure your homemade cat food is delicious and healthy. 

In addition to working with a vet, you should also ensure you properly handle any meat you cook at home. For example, feeding your cat raw meat can increase the risk of a bacterial infection that can cause serious health consequences. 

Cat eating home cooked food from bowl

Can my cat thrive on a strict home cooked diet?

Pet parents willing to roll up their sleeves and ensure they're feeding their cats nutritious food can improve their cat's health. While cats can thrive on a strict homemade diet, it's important to meet their specific health requirements to avoid nutritional deficiencies and other issues. You must work with a nutritionist who can help you determine whether the ingredients you use are safe and healthy for your cat.

For most pet parents, a homemade diet will be more expensive and tedious. Commercial pet food is formulated to provide your cat with all the nutrients they need, so there's no need to invest in a homemade diet, especially if your cat is healthy. Always talk to your vet before changing your cat's food to ensure it's safe for them. 

Final Notes

Making your own cat food can provide your feline friend with some health benefits. However, the process is time-consuming and expensive. To ensure your cat gets the proper nutrients from their food, you must work with a veterinary nutritionist and formulate recipes that will provide your pet with all the vitamins and minerals they need for optimum health.

Of course, you should always consider the foods that go into your cat's body. Some commercial pet foods are higher quality than others, so finding the right food can be challenging. Talk to a Dutch vet today to find the best cat food for your pet. Our professional vets can provide recommendations to ensure your cat only eats the best. Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. Morris, James G. "Idiosyncratic Nutrient Requirements of Cats Appear to Be Diet-Induced Evolutionary Adaptations." Nutrition Research Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19087402/.

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