What do I need to know to make my own cat food?

There is no shortage of recipes online and in cookbooks for homemade dog food, but what about the family cat?

Homemade cat food is a more difficult proposition. Recipes and resources are hard to come by, and some authorities disagree about what cats can or cannot consume.

Dr. Andrea Tassi, graduate University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine, she has specialized in cats throughout her nearly 30-year career.

Her clinic, Just Cats, Naturally, based in Northern Virginia, uses homeopathy, nutritional therapy, and methods related to behavior and the environment. She believes that switching a cat from processed foods to a raw or partially cooked diet is normal and may improve her health.

Before changing the diet, consult your veterinarian about your cat’s specific nutritional and nutritional needs.


Below is a Q&A with Times Test Kitchen Director Noel Carter and Dr. Tassi, edited for length and clarity:

Homemade dog food books are a dime a dozen, but they’re hard to find Cookbooks that focus on cat food, not to mention recipes or even consistent advice.

I think it’s a wacky job to look for consistency. If you poll 30 vets and ask them what you should feed your cat, you’ll get a lot of different answers.

I think you should go back to basics and ask what school vets are taught about animal feeding. And the answer is close to nothing. …

Most veterinarians believe that pet food companies make good products and have an interest in the health of pets. They’ve done the research, they know what to do, and they know what’s best. And you bought it, a hook, a thread, a sinker. I can no longer believe it.

I fed my cats just like I knew. Now keep in mind, I’m not doing scientific research here, but over the years when I’ve been feeding my cats processed foods, every single cat has developed some form of chronic disease. And these cats, they’re all unrelated, so what’s the common denominator? What do you feed them?

A cat in its natural existence eats mice, birds, small rodents, small mammals, insects and reptiles. Yes, they might nibble on a few blades of grass here or there, but it’s a carnivorous diet. And who can argue with that?

Have you ever seen a cat pick up an ear of corn? No.

Doctor. Andrea Tassi

What about the high-end “Balanced Nutrition” brands we find in gourmet markets or even veterinary offices?

All dry foods are grain-based. Have you ever seen a cat pick up an ear of corn? No, so I started recommending packaged foods, and soon I began to see the advantages of leaving dry food behind. But then I started to realize that even canned foods are highly processed due to the nature of canning (high pressure cooking and heat). One consistent nutritional tip you’ll get as a human being is to eat less processed foods.

So should our cats eat meat?

You can’t just use meat. If we are making homemade cat food, our goal should be to work with a recipe that recreates the nutritional status of a mouse. Mouse is the perfect food for cats. When cats eat mice, they do not eat a filet or a mouse. They eat all parts of the mouse. And all these different parts and organs contain different nutrients.

Homemade cat food seems to be more complicated than buying minced chicken at the supermarket.

If you are interested in feeding your cats food prepared at home, you should go into this very carefully and spend a lot of time learning. It’s not easy. For people who want to feed their cats less processed foods, I don’t think they should make their own food [as the] The first step.

If you are going to feed an animal a raw meat-based diet, you cannot just grind raw chicken breast. This is not a complete animal. You need calcium from the bones. You need the amino acids that are in the organs. You need fatty organs like the liver, because it contains iron. It’s not just a matter of “let’s buy some chicken and feed it to our cats”.

If someone was interested in making homemade food, where would they start?

If you want to do this, start with the pre-made numbers [frozen raw] food. So I did, and as soon as my cats moved in, I realized that I (a) love to cook, (b) I can cook and (c) I have the kitchen and the time, so let’s start making my own. It’s less expensive and I have more control over the component chain.

If you are interested in feeding your cats home prepared food, you have to go through this very carefully and spend a lot of time learning.”

Doctor. Andrea Tassi

What types of meat can we feed to our cats?

Any type of meat is fine: beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. With fish, it should not be fed raw. There is something in fish that can counteract the use of vitamin E. Cats are not supposed to eat fish anyway. Cats evolved as a predator of the desert, and their ancestor is the African wild cat. However, if I had some cooked fish, I would give my cat bites. But it’s not true that cats follow a heavy fish diet, and I don’t recommend it.

Many people are concerned about raw versus cooked. Should the diet be raw, and should I have safety concerns?

This is very controversial. Most veterinarians and American Veterinary Medical Assn. They have issued a stand against raw diets because they feel that food safety is very important. I can tell that in my 15 years of dealing with animals eating raw diets, I’ve seen one family in which two cats were infected. That’s it.

Before you begin, visit Dr. Lisa Pearson’s website, catinfo.org. She is a traditional and pioneering veterinarian. Where her original cat diet relied mostly on raw meat, she now advocates partial cooking of chicken nuggets to reduce the potential for bacterial contamination.

And when we talk about feeding anything raw or partially cooked, the only safe way to do it is with whole cuts of meat or animals. You can not use ground meat. If you have a piece of chicken, the salmonella isn’t inside the meat, it’s on the surface. When I was making my food from whole chicken quarters, I dipped them in boiling water for a minute. This cooks the skin lightly and hopefully cleanses the outside.

When I see cats eating a balanced raw meat or light diet, they are very different animals than cats on commercial diets.

Doctor. Andrea Tassi

Is there anything I should avoid?

Yes really. Garlic and onions – anything in this family can cause anemia in cats. And don’t feed them cooked bones.

Animals were not designed to eat cooked bones. Cooked bones crack and can cause holes. Cats are designed to eat bones, but they are designed to eat raw bones from small animals. So no cooked bones.

For someone not ready to make their own food, are there raw commercial foods or alternatives that you’d recommend?

The best way to start is to turn to some companies that offer good quality pasteurized, balanced, frozen, and food-free diets. The brand I know the most is Rad Cat, and then there’s an East Coast company called Aunt Jeni’s. Nature’s Variety also produces raw foods [sold under the brand name Instinct]. in some cases, [brands] Perform high pressure pasteurization (HPP). They do HPP for their foods made with chicken and turkey because of the risk of salmonella infection.

There is also a medium type with freeze-dried foods. And many vets feel more comfortable recommending freeze-drying because the process reduces the chance of pathogen transmission through food.

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