Homemade Cat Food Diets Could Be Risky

One quick Google search can put up hundreds of homemade cat food recipes, but a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that most of them are unlikely to provide cats with all the essential nutrients. Some recipes may also contain ingredients potentially toxic to cats.

The study published in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical AssociationHe is believed to have been the first to examine homemade recipes for healthy adult cats. Researchers evaluated 114 recipes from online sources and books, written by non-veterinarians and veterinarians. Forty percent of the recipes did not provide any nutrition instructions, and the rest of them lacked detail or were unclear.

Only 94 recipes provided enough information for a computer nutrition analysis and none provided all the essential nutrients to meet the allowances recommended by the National Research Council for adult cats, said lead author Jennifer Larsen, a veterinary nutritionist at UC Davis School of Medicine. Veterinary medicine.

Recipes were lacking in nutrients regardless of the source or whether they were written by vets, although those written by vets were less deficient in essential nutrients. Most recipes lacked concentrations of three or more nutrients, and some lacked adequate amounts of up to 19 essential nutrients. Furthermore, many recipes are severely deficient, providing less than 50 percent of the recommended allowance for several essential nutrients including choline, iron, zinc, thiamin, vitamin E and manganese.

Whether these recipes will harm the cats will vary based on the feeding instructions, the length of time the cat spends on the diet, the health of the cat, and the degree of nutritional deficiency in the recipe. The researchers found only five recipes, all from veterinary authors, that fulfilled all but one of the essential nutrients.

Some recipes are more disturbing

Seven percent of recipes call for ingredients that may be toxic to cats, including garlic or garlic powder, onions, and shallots. The researchers also found recipes that required raw animal products without mentioning the potential risks of bacterial contamination. Some recipes that included bones neglected to mention the importance of grinding them to prevent rupture of the digestive system.

There has been a significant increase in cat owners turning to homemade cat food recipes after toxic substances were found in commercial pet food imported from China more than a decade ago, Larsen said. Some cat owners choose homemade recipes because they want more control over their cat’s diet. Others believe that their cat should follow a plant-based diet, or one that contains ingredients that are organic or sustainably sourced. Larsen said cat owners should be careful about homemade recipes.

“Homemade diets are not necessarily better,” Larsen said. “If you are going to use one, you need to make sure it is done safely and it should be balanced and appropriate for your individual cat.”

Larsen said cat owners should not be afraid of commercial diets, but he advises cat owners who want to follow a homemade diet to consult a certified veterinary nutritionist. They specialize in formulating homemade pet diets.

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