Most homemade cat food recipes are not likely to provide essential nutrients and some may contain potentially toxic ingredients.
These are the results of a study conducted by researchers at the University of California (UC), Davis who looked at 114 recipes from online sources and books written by non-veterinarians and veterinarians. While the recipes written by vets had fewer deficiency, the study found that they still lacked nutrients. Of all the recipes studied, 40 percent did not provide nutrition instructions and the rest lacked detail or were not clear.
“Only 94 recipes provided sufficient information for computer nutrition analysis and of these recipes, none provided all essential nutrients to meet the National Research Council (NRC) recommended allowances for adult cats,” says lead author, Jennifer Larsen, UC Davis School of Medicine. In veterinary medicine, veterinary nutritionist.
Additionally, the study found that many homemade cat foods were lacking in concentrations of three or more nutrients, with up to 19 essential nutrients missing. Furthermore, many of the recipes provided less than 50 percent of the recommended allowances for several essential nutrients, including choline, iron, zinc, thiamine, vitamin E and manganese.
The study revealed that seven percent of the recipes included ingredients potentially toxic to cats, including garlic powder or garlic, onions and shallots. The recipes also lacked warnings about bacterial contamination of raw animal products and did not mention the importance of grinding the bones to prevent rupture of the digestive system.
According to Larsen, there has been an 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. Owners may also have their cat on a homemade diet because they want more control over their diet, think their cat should be vegetarian, or want to make sure the diet is sustainably sourced or contains organic ingredients.
Only five recipes from vets combined all but one of the essential nutrients. According to the study, whether these recipes will harm cats will vary based on 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.
Larsen advises cat owners to consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist before switching their pet to a homemade diet.