FOOD & TREATS

How to Make Homemade Cat Food: A Guide to Understanding Your Cat’s Natural Diet

A cat looking at some homemade cat cookies on a plate
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

As a cat owner, it can be very hard for you to decide on what kind of food you should give to your cat. So many brands of commercial cat food are available in the market, and they all toot their own horn for being the best and most nutritious option for your cat. But did you know that regardless of nutritional content, too much commercial cat food can be bad for your cat’s health? Learning how to make homemade cat food will give you an alternative that helps ensure your kitty will live a long and healthy life.

Just like dogs, cats have been developing their own unique requirements when it comes to diet. In the wild, cats don’t drink water often. Instead, they get the moisture they need from their food—be it fish, poultry, etc. Cats that live on dry food alone often don’t get the moisture level they need—even if you always make sure they have a bowl of fresh water available. That’s why you should balance their diet with wet, homemade cat food.

A cat eating treats in a bed

Wet commercial cat food is also a good option, but if you prepare your cat’s meals yourself, you can better ensure their health by using healthy and nutritious ingredients only while avoiding fillers or byproducts—not to mention the fact that homemade cat food is the more affordable option.

From tips on how often you should feed your cats to simple DIY cat food recipes which you can follow, we believe that the contents of this article will be helpful to you as you work towards providing a better quality of life for your cat. Before we get to the recipes, we would like to first help you understand your cat’s natural diet so you’ll be able to judge by yourself whether our recipes fulfill your cat’s nutritional needs or not.

The Definition of a Balanced Diet for Your Cat

There are things you should know when it comes to preparing cat food so you will be able to fulfill your cat’s daily needs of nutrients. The ideal and balanced diet for a cat is one that fulfills these criteria:

Rich in Protein and Fats

Cats need large amounts of protein and fats, but too much can be bad for them, so it’s important to find a good balance. It’s also important to consider not only the quantity of the protein but also the quality.

Image showing a cat-eating-tuna

Too much poor quality protein may lead to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and even weight loss. As obligate carnivores, cats do need a higher level of protein and fats than dogs. However, always make sure that the protein and fats are easily digestible.

Rich in Sodium

A cat can benefit a lot from sodium. It is partially beneficial in maintaining the perfect balance of essential acids in their bodies. It will also help in regulating blood pressure. However, if you feed your cat with excessive sodium in their diet, you can unconsciously expose your cat to problems related to their nervous system, kidneys, and heart. Sodium intake should be strictly monitored especially if your cat has a history of heart and kidney problems.

Low in Magnesium

Magnesium should never be added to your cat’s diet in excessive amount. This is because it can have a very negative impact on their health. You can expect things like respiratory problems, weakness, cardiac arrest, paralysis, coma, and even worse.

Owner giving food to a cat

It can even lead to death. Bladder stones are very common when it comes to taking too much magnesium. But don’t cut magnesium out of your cat’s diet entirely either.

A Monitored Amount of Calcium and Phosphorus

If your cat suffers from kidney diseases, the intake of calcium and phosphorus should be monitored wisely. Taking in too much calcium and phosphorus can lead to the formation of bladder stones and the progression of kidney failure. However, cutting them out of your cat’s diet entirely isn’t wise either because it could lead to them suffering from bone and joint problems.

A Monitored Amount of Carbohydrate

Cut down on vegetable matter and carbohydrate, but don’t eliminate them entirely. Just because cats do not generally eat vegetables, it does not mean they do not need them.

A cat with two bowl full of vegetables

Naturally, they will ingest green matter as a part of their diet. Therefore, you should take this into account by adding wheatgrass, carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables.

Low in Vitamin D

Do not feed your cat with high levels of vitamin D. Too much vitamin D can cause issues that revolve around the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, cardiovascular system, and nervous system.

Doesn’t Contain Harmful Ingredients

There are ingredients that you need to avoid at all costs when it comes to making your own cat food. They may taste good to us, but these ingredients are actually toxic to cats.

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Raisins

  • Tomatoes

  • Raw egg whites

  • Grapes

Raw

Most cats are picky eaters. They prefer fresh meats over cooked ones. Unlike dogs, cats have the structure of their bodies finely tuned to hunt and process live prey. Their teeth, claws, and digestive tracts are all designed to hunt and catch animals. As for dogs, they have the characteristics of a scavenger. Cooked meat and most everything else entice their appetite, so their palate is easier to cater to than cats.

Now that you know how cats prefer fresh meat, you will be able to avoid a common mistake that most cat parents make when they’re trying to prepare a homemade cat food for the first time. Sometimes, we tend to treat our cats like humans. We thought they deserved better and we refused to let them eat something raw.

Owner preparing food for her cat

We thought they would like it if we cooked their meals. But cats are predators. As predators, they don’t bother with cooked meat. You have to understand that raw food is very important for cats. For the millions of years cats and dogs have existed on this planet, they’ve been surviving on raw food. Thier teeth, mouth, stomach, organs, intestines, and enzymes have evolved to grind, crush, process, digest, and take in raw food.

They also need a source of amino acid taurine which can only be found in meat products still retaining their raw form. If you cook it, this nutrient will be destroyed. There’s no need for you to worry about them getting a stomachache or diseases as long as you make sure that the meat is fresh and comes from a trustworthy source. Your cat’s diet should be both complete and balanced. Too much of one nutrient can mess up their whole diet, so do not overdo any of them while preparing a healthy meal for your cat.

3 Simple DIY Cat Food Recipes

As an owner, your responsibility is to understand what your cat needs and to differentiate between what they want versus what their bodies require. But of course, it would be best if you could give them the best of both worlds at the same time. Below we’ve got a few nutritious and delicious recipes that can help you with that.

The Mackerel Recipe

We considered this as the best cat food recipe to start out with because not only is it simple, it’s also a favorite of most cats.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of canned mackerel or high-quality fresh mackerel

  • 1 tbs of sunflower seed oil

  • 1 tbs of cooked organic brown rice

  • 1-2 tbs of water or beef/chicken broth

Directions

  • Combine all the ingredients stated above in a food processor.

  • Beat the ingredients until they are mixed well and fully-blended.

  • Serve immediately. It can also be refrigerated for up to three days.

The Salmon Recipe

This recipe is perfect if you want to make something tasty and healthy for your cat.

Honey Mustard Salmon on a plate

You will also find that this recipe includes a helpful serving of vegetable, which is important for your cat’s health.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of processed salmon or high-quality fresh salmon

  • 1 tbs of cooked and mashed broccoli

  • 1/4 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs

  • 1 tsp of brewer’s yeast

Directions

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

  • Stir them together until they are well mixed.

  • Serve immediately. It can also be refrigerated for up to three days.

The Chicken Recipe

We have included two types of fish recipes. The last one would be a chicken-based DIY cat food.

Image showing Crispy Buttermilk Chicken recipe

Contrary to what most people believe, there are times when cats would actually choose chicken over fish, or any other meat products for that matter.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of lightly boiled or cooked chicken (you can use raw chicken but make sure it is high-quality free-range meat)

  • 1/4 cup of steamed, mashed broccoli

  • 1/4 cup of steamed, mashed carrots

  • 3-4 tbs of chicken broth

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in the food processor. If you need to alter how much chicken broth you add, you are welcome to do so. But we suggest three to four tablespoons of chicken broth.

  • Crumble all the ingredients. Turn it into a puree, or you can stop as soon as you see it resembling pate cat food. Do not make it soupy. Instead, make sure it is smooth enough to be chewed on.

  • Let it cool down to room temperature.

  • Serve it to your cat.

How Often Should You Feed Your Cat

So you’ve successfully prepared a tasty homemade cat food, and your cat loves it so much she licks her plate clean. But then she keeps begging for more. And more. If you feed your cat too little, she will not be able to maintain good health.

Image of a cat eating from a bowl on the grass

If you feed her too much, she will get fat. That’s why you need to establish a perfect, strict routine in feeding your cat. Here are some tips on how to make sure that you are not over-feeding your cat.

Consider Your Cat’s Age

If you are dealing with a kitten, understand that they need to be fed more often throughout the day. A kitten needs at least three meals a day. Once they are older than six months, they will be able to function with only two meals per day.

Consider Your Cat’s Health

Humans are not the only ones with health problems. When preparing your cat’s food, you have to make sure you acknowledge their specific condition.

If they are diabetic, feed the cat according to your veterinarian’s suggestion. Cats who have hyperthyroidism will want to be fed most of the time, but you shouldn’t give in to their urging. Instead, follow the feeding schedule that your vet’s set.

cat-licking-meat-on-table

In conclusion, find a feeding schedule that works for both of you, under your vet’s guidance. Once you’ve found it, keep it consistent. This way, your cat will know when it is time to eat and won’t beg you for food any other time of the day. It will also help them feel less hungry as they go about doing their daily business.

Wrap Up

Of course, it is a lot easier to buy commercial cat food. They all come neatly packaged; all you have to do is serve them to your kitty. But there are times when you feel like pampering kitty with your own homemade cat food. When it comes to feeding your cat, balanced diet and perfect scheduling are very crucial. With homemade cat food, you know exactly what kind of ingredients go into it and whether they are good for your cat or not.

You can also control the taste. If your cat is picky, all you need to do is mix a few sardines and a little bit of vegetable in chicken stock. Get them used to tasting the mix little by little at first. Also consider adding in calcium, yeast, vitamin C, lecithin, and kelp. All of these will be able to supply the natural elements of minerals found in a wild cat’s diet.

Fluffy cat eating a fish

Finally, no need to get worried if your cat drinks less water than she used to after you started feeding her your homemade cat food. Cats fulfill up to 80% of their water needs from food, not by drinking from water sources. Hence if you start balancing their dry food diet with wet homemade food, your cat will not drink as often. Hopefully, this article has prepared you for the fun adventure of making delicious homemade cat food for your beloved fur baby.

What do you usually feed your cat? Have you ever tried your hand at making a homemade meal for them before? We’re sure we missed many great recipes—there’s just too many gourmet cat meal options to try—so if you’ve got a dish you think no cat should miss out on, please share them in the comments section below!

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.

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