6 Tips To Safely Prepare Healthy Homemade Cat Food

Beautiful feline cat eating on a metal bowl. Cute domestic animal.

Key Points

  • Learn what human foods are toxic to cats so you don't accidentally use them in your recipes.

  • Handle meat, fish, and veggies with care and practice excellent hygiene to prevent contamination from food-borne microorganisms.

  • Consult your vet before making any changes to your cat's diet.

  • Cooked homemade cat food is safer than raw cat food and has a lower risk of making your cat sick.

  • Keep your pet's individual dietary restrictions in mind as you prepare their food.

Is homemade the best cat food an option for your pet or something to be avoided due to possible risks involved in the process? This article seeks to answer that question by exploring the world of homemade cat food and how to safely prepare it in the comfort of your kitchen.

Before tackling that task, first consult your veterinarian to identify and discuss any health conditions and dietary restrictions of your cat. After all, your concern for your pet's health is why you're considering this change in the first place.

human petting cat next to metal food bowl

Beware of Toxic Ingredients

The first step in preparing any meal is to know your ingredients. For the healthiest cat food, it is important to learn about any ingredients that might send you and your cat to the emergency veterinary hospital.

Cats are sensitive to the following ingredients, some of which are quite common in human food:

  • Members of the Alium family, such as garlic, chives, or onion

  • Tomatoes

  • Grapes or raisins

  • Xylitol and other artificial sweeteners

  • Any type of nuts

  • Grains such as corn or wheat, which are often used as fillers in cheap commercial cat food

Balanced Recipes

Creating balanced cat food recipes is important to meet your cat's nutritional needs. Cats require specific nutrients, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their bodies depend only on meat for survival. They cannot properly digest plant-based foods.

Some of the healthiest protein choices when it comes to cooking your cat's food are fish and chicken. They are easily digestible and don't tend to cause digestive distress that can occur with beef or pork.

For carbohydrates, use ingredients that increase fiber content without risking digestive issues such as diarrhea, bloating, or vomiting. For example, use a small amount of cooked pumpkin instead of wheat or corn flour in your recipe.

Ask your veterinarian or a pet nutritionist any questions about how much of a particular ingredient is appropriate in your homemade cat food.

California veterinarian Dr. Lisa A. Pierson says she has a "strong preference to feed a diet that is a safe balance between raw and cooked." She uses a combination of meat, bones, skin, and liver, along with added nutrients such as taurine, fish oil, vitamin E, and vitamins from the B-complex.

Balance is key. It is essential to provide different recipes to ensure your cat gets a wide range of nutrients. Variety is not only the spice of life, but prevents nutrient deficiencies while keeping their diet interesting.

Cooking Techniques

Using appropriate cooking techniques when preparing cat food is essential for both safety and nutrition.

Cook meat and fish thoroughly to eliminate any potential bacteria or parasites that can harm your cat. Steam vegetables to retain their nutrients.

To enhance taste and texture, grind or chop ingredients — especially if your cat prefers a finer consistency. Blending or pureeing the mixture creates a smooth texture that cats find appealing.

Adjusting the moisture levels and consistency by adding broth or water makes the food more enticing for your pet.

Always follow safe handling practices when preparing homemade cat food. Wash your hands and utensils thoroughly before and after handling raw ingredients. Use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked items to avoid cross-contamination.

Properly store any leftovers in appropriate containers to maintain freshness and prevent bacterial growth.

Dietary Restrictions

Understanding your cat's dietary restrictions is key to providing them with the right homemade cat food. Some cats may have food allergies, intolerance to certain ingredients, or medical conditions requiring special diets.

If your cat has allergies, use grain-free recipes with alternative carbohydrate sources like sweet potatoes or lentils. Cats with pancreatitis or other conditions requiring low-fat diets need lean protein sources with limited fatty ingredients.

High-fiber recipes benefit cats with bowel issues by providing the necessary roughage to support healthy digestion.

Consult your veterinarian to determine the right foods and cat treats for specific dietary restrictions. Take advantage of their expertise to adapt recipes and use alternative ingredients that are safe and suitable for your cat's unique needs.

Individual factors to consider include their age, health status, and dietary requirements. For example, seniors don't need the same diet as adults or kittens. The same rule applies to pregnant cats.

Some pets may be allergic to specific ingredients or have food sensitivities. Cats with hyperthyroidism need a diet high in protein, yet low in carbs, phosphate, and iodine, as highlighted by Dr. Amy Sawy in July 2023.

Food Safety

Ensuring food safety is the top priority when preparing homemade cat food. Following proper hygiene practices reduces the risk of contamination and food-borne illnesses.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling ingredients. Clean all utensils and equipment to avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked ingredients. Use separate cutting boards for meat, fish, and vegetables to prevent the spread of bacteria.

When storing homemade cat food, refrigerate or freeze it promptly to avoid bacterial growth. It is best to divide the food into appropriate portions that can be easily thawed.

Use airtight containers or zip bags to store the cat food and keep it fresh.

Raw diets are more dangerous than cooked homemade cat food for the simple reason that the ingredients can carry dangerous microorganisms that are antibiotic-resistant.

Dr. Cailin R. Heinze, co-founder of the Clinical Nutrition Service at Tufts University, says "many pet owners are still unaware of human health risks from raw pet foods".

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises that raw and under-cooked meat and poultry can carry dangerous germs like salmonella, E. coli, Yersinia pestis, Campylobacter, and Clostridium perfringers.

The freshness of the primary protein sources, the handling of the ingredients, and the cooking time all influence the final result and whether or not the homemade cat food is safe to serve your pet.

Quality Ingredients

Selecting high-quality ingredients is essential to provide your cat with a nutritious homemade diet. When choosing protein sources, select lean meats like chicken, turkey, or fish. Choose human-grade quality meats to ensure safety and minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.

Include a variety of wholesome fruits and vegetables in your cat's diet. Carrots, peas, pumpkin, and spinach are excellent choices that offer beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Avoid using potentially toxic ingredients, especially condiments and seasonings.

If your budget allows, consider organic ingredients to minimize exposure to pesticides and ensure a higher nutritional content.

The most common nutritional deficiencies that cats tend to suffer from are iron, taurine, choline, vitamin E and thiamine. Consider this when preparing your homemade cat food recipe.

Ask Your Vet

Collaborating with a veterinarian is important when preparing homemade cat food because the vet will be aware of any dietary requirements, special considerations, or medical conditions to address. They possess the expertise to guide you through the process and meet your cat's nutritional needs.

Your vet can also advise you about which recipe is more appropriate for your cat and what portion sizes are adequate.

While the general advice is to take your cat to the vet clinic once a year for vaccinations and a check-up, as your cat ages, a vet may need to see them twice or even three times a year. For example, most cats develop kidney disease in their senior years, which calls for regular diet changes.

Transitioning to Homemade Cat Food

Gradually switch your cat's diet from the old one to the new one. Most cats do not handle an overnight change to their diet very well, so they might experience some digestive distress.

Replacing five to 10 percent of the old diet with the new food every day is the best way of making the transition. That way, it doesn't come as a shock to your cat when they are eating a completely different type of food, both in terms of taste and in what this new diet does for their system.

Commercial Homemade or Fresh Cat Food

You have the option of purchasing homemade cat food manufactured using only safe and healthy ingredients. Typically, these diets come in canned or pouch forms to ensure adequate hydration.

Feeding your cat homemade food isn't always an option, but a good goal is to find the best-quality one available. Fresh cat food can be delivered frozen to your doorstep through cat diet subscriptions.

Avoid artificial colors or preservatives in the food and strive for fiber from organic produce. Novel proteins such as venison, alligator, elk, and others are recommended for cats with food sensitivities.

cat next to metal food bowl licking mouth

From Your Kitchen to Your Kitten

Preparing homemade cat food is a rewarding experience for pet owners who prioritize their cats' health and well-being. Following balanced recipes, employing safe cooking techniques, considering dietary restrictions, ensuring food safety, using quality ingredients, and consulting your veterinarian will all provide your cat with a healthy diet.

While homemade cat food offers benefits, it must be prepared with care and under professional guidance. By being thorough and cautious, you can take pride in providing your feline friend with nourishing meals that contribute to their overall health and happiness.

Want to read more about how you can take better care of your cat? Subscribe to CattitudeDaily for more tips!

Was this article helpful?