Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to homemade cat food. When done right, it is great. When done wrong, it can be deadly.
After reading articles and journals from vets all day, I have compiled a pros and cons list from all those sources. This can help you make the decision of whether to think about feeding homemade cat food to your furry friend.
Keep reading to find out about the following:
Pros of Homemade Cat Food
Cons of Homemade Cat Food
Remember to always consult a vet for your cat’s unique needs!
Pros of Homemade Cat Food
Avoid Cat Food Recalls
FDA-issued mandatory cat food recalls happen when there is a serious concern with manufactured food. These concerns can be serious health consequences or even death.
As a cat parent, it can be very nervewracking knowing FDA can recall cat foods are any moment. But of course, this is a good sign that FDA is constantly monitoring and testing the quality of commercial cat food. By making homemade cat food, you are able to dodge this problem.
You can check FDA Cat Food Recalls & Withdrawals in this interactive guide here.
Prescribed to Your Cat’s Medical Needs
Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist® specialists can formulate specific diets to help treat the medical problems of your cat in ways commercial cat food cannot. These are good for cats with diabetes, kidney disease, a food allergy, or urinary tract disorders. You must follow the exact formula these specialists give you, down to the brand. Even a change in the brand can create negative side effects for your cat.
You should never go rogue and create your own kitty meal plan without the guidance of a professional.
Full Control of Ingredient Quality
As the cook yourself, you have full control of your cat’s homemade meal. Pet food companies may add “fancy” ingredients to build a certain image. They don’t add nutritional benefits to your kittie’s diet. If you are unlucky, these ingredients may even cause adverse health effects on your cat.
There are other ingredients that don’t sound too appetizing either. Ingredients like “beef byproduct”, preservatives, flavoring, or other questionable additives.
You can make sure you are using all quality ingredients if you are making your own homemade cat food.
Tailored to Picky Kitties
Sometimes, cats can get bored of the same food they are eating every day. Suddenly, they will decide to stop eating it without any warning. This sudden change in their behavior can also be a sign of a health issue. When you notice this happening, always consult your vet before introducing new food to your feline companion.
If you got the go-ahead from your vet (and your cat), you can tailor your homemade cat food to exactly what your kitty wants. If your cat decides they don’t want that food anymore, you can switch it up more easily than having a big bag of cat food going to waste.
High-quality commercial cat food can be expensive. Homemade cat food can be an alternative to save a couple of bucks. That would be the case if the meats your cat eats overlap with yours (sorry, vegetarians and vegans!). You can buy meats in bigger bulks to include your feline family member in your meal prep.
Be sure to not cook your food and the homemade cat food together! Your cat cannot eat the delicious spices you add to your human food. Tip: If you want to use the same pan–You can cook your cat’s food first in the clean pan, then cook yours after.
This is one side of it. The price of homemade cat food is part of the “Con” too. Keep reading to find out!
Cons of Homemade Cat Food
If your homemade cat food is not formulated and updated by Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist® specialists, your cat may experience nutritional deficiencies. The symptoms will not appear initially, but slowly those signs will show.
Here are some common deficiencies and their symptoms:
- Taurine deficiency: Dilated Cardiomyopathy (heart disease), retinal degeneration leading to blindness, neurological complications
- Iron deficiency: anemia, lethargy, weak, rapid & short breathing, fainting, death
- Thiamine deficiency: early stages–decreased appetite, nausea vomiting. Late stages–neurological signs such as stumbling, blindness, inability to lift the head, seizures, coma, death
- Choline deficiency: hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), other liver problems
- Vitamin E deficiency: pansteatitis, muscle weakness, heart dysfunction, liver hepatitis, brown bowel syndrome
Food-borne Illness/Food Poisoning
Your cat can get food poising when they eat something contaminated with a harmful micro-organism. These micro-organisms include bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Homemade cat food with no preservatives has a shorter freshness span, so the chances of your cat eating spoiled cat food are higher.
If you are feeding raw, this point is even more evident.
Leaving food in your cat’s bowl at room temperature can lead to germ build-up and is unsanitary. If your cat doesn’t finish the food all in one go and comes back to revisit it after a few hours, there is a chance bacteria has already gotten into it.
Your cat can experience diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, rapid breathing, or more. If you see these symptoms, take them to your local vet or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at +1 (888) 426-4435.
Making homemade cat food is a commitment. Because homemade cat food does not have preservatives in it, it can be spoiled in a couple of days. This means you have to invest more time in making food. Not only that, you should collect any leftover food promptly to prevent germs from growing on it.
If this sounds like too much for you, then homemade cat food may not be in your best interest.
From the pros, you saw that this category would show up again. If you opt for homemade cat food because it is more affordable, think again. You should consult a vet or a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist® specialist to see what type of supplements your cat requires. It can be the case that after getting all the supplements, you can end up with a higher bill than before.
Keep in mind, there is a higher chance you can be throwing food out because of spoilage. That is especially the case at the beginning of your cat food chef journey. Your cat might not be eating all the prepared food before it goes bad.
Unappealing Taste to Your Cat
Homemade cat food usually doesn’t taste as appealing to our furry companions because we don’t add in all the unnecessary fluff. We would not add in all the salt and flavoring. Additionally, the supplements we add to the food sometimes create tastes and smells that can be a turn-off for cats.
Always consult a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist® specialist or your vet to tailor a meal plan for your cat specifically.
Age, size, and health issues all play into how much and what to feed your kitty. Only following recipes online or in books (even by vets) are too vague to meet all your cat’s needs.
Unique Needs of Each Cat
Cats have different nutritional needs than humans and dogs. They are obligate carnivores who need mostly animal meat in their diet. They have limited or no abilities to produce certain amino acids and vitamins in their bodies, so they must absorb them through their food. Cats that are not domesticated would her their set of nutrients when they eat their prey whole.
High-quality high quality commercial cat food should be formulated to meet those needs. When you are cooking your cat’s homemade meal, you need to add in all the necessary supplements. This can be a challenging task with all the points you have to keep in mind.
On top of that, each cat needs need a different amount or set of nutrients. Growing kittens (less than 12 months), pregnant, nursing, and senior cats will need adjustments to their diet. Cats with specific medical conditions need a different set. Different breeds may need a different set as well! Your homemade cat food must take care of all these factors.
The Bottom Line
The simpler and possibly better way to get all your cat’s nutrition is to get high-quality commercial cat food. The are so many on the market, there must be one that can meet your cat’s specific needs with the help of your vet. The complications that may arise from your homemade cat food can be serious. It might not be worth the risk for your feline friend or for you.
If after all the consideration and consulting, you’ve opted into the homemade cat food journey, these are a couple of key points to prepare for:
- More labor and time investment
- Potentially higher expenses
- Following strict rules and guidelines by professionals
What to do next
When you are feeding homemade cat food, be sure to follow what the professionals tell you. On top of that, make sure you don’t feed these 23 toxic foods to your cat!