Guest post by Jodi Ziskin
Over the past few years working with clients and providing public demonstrations and seminars focusing on holistic nutrition for our furry companions, I have discovered that many people are curious about making homemade food for their cats (cooked or raw). However, they are frustrated and confused by conflicting information from a variety of sources.
Common misconceptions about making food for cats
Making homemade food for cats is very time consuming
It actually takes less time than driving to the pet food supply store and back – usually less than a half hour for four days worth of food. Of course, if you have more than two cats, it can take a little bit longer (but not much). Some people prefer making food in bulk (freezing in four day portions) and others prefer making fresh food daily. Personally, I am happy making food once every four days. Cooking time can be greatly reduced by using frozen organic vegetables or steaming extra veggies when preparing foods for you or the human members of your family.
Making homemade food is too expensive
If you are currently feeding your cat a premium canned food that is fit for human consumption, you may be surprised to learn that homemade is much less expensive. If you are feeding an average brand of kibble (never recommended), homemade will cost more but can potentially save you a considerable amount of money in vet bills.
Using $4.00 as the base price of hormone-free/antibiotic-free poultry and meat per pound (you can find less and more expensive), the cost of feeding homemade food for cats is roughly $1 per day, per pet. Buying meat in bulk can reduce prices considerably. Organic poultry and grass-fed meats can be more expensive, but again – buying in bulk can significantly reduce the cost. I always recommend using organic vegetables and fruits (pumpkin is considered a fruit; some cats like blueberries, too). Using frozen vegetables saves money and offers convenience, too.
An average sized cat (9 – 12 lbs) will eat around four-to-five ounces of homemade food per day (two meals per day is recommended, three for some cats). That is much less than the recommended amount of canned food. Homemade food is nutritionally dense; therefore less food is needed to meet nutritional needs. No two cats are the same and portions will vary. The rule of thumb for portion size goes like this: serve four tablespoons of food (1/4 cup) per meal, based on two meals per day. If your cat doesn’t finish everything on his/her plate, it is too much. Next time reduce the serving size by a tablespoon. If your cat finishes everything and sort of look at you like, “Hey, I need more,” give him/her more.
Homemade food doesn’t provide complete nutrition
In addition to meat, vegetables and sometimes fruits (pumpkin is awesome for cats), I emphasize adding an omega 3 oil (Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Pet is my personal preference), taurine and food-based vitamins and minerals (for proper calcium ratio and to add back what is lost during cooking). I also recommend daily use of a probiotic and digestive enzyme.
It is important to rotate proteins and vegetables to offer your cat a full spectrum of nutrients. You don’t need to go crazy – switching between two or three proteins (let’s say chicken and buffalo, or turkey, beef and rabbit) is fine. Green vegetables can alternate between broccoli, kale, spinach and zucchini. Use pumpkin one batch and sweet potatoes the next. It becomes second nature very quickly.
It is best to work with a holistic or integrative veterinarian or nutrition specialist for personalized recipes as well as supplement suggestions so that your pet’s individual needs are met.
One of the great advantages of preparing homemade foods for your cat(s) is that you have complete control over the ingredients. You can be confident that there are no artificial colors or flavors or flavor enhancers. You also know that the meats are human grade, not from diseased, dying, dead or drugged animals. You know the omega 3s are cold-pressed and aren’t rancid because you added them after cooking. You know that the vegetables are free from pesticides. You know there are no fillers or cheap ingredients like corn, wheat, barley, sorghum and soy.
Another big advantage of a real food diet for pets – low odor and much smaller stools. Because the food is full of nutrients that the body can digest, absorb and assimilate, there is less waste. Isn’t that reason enough to make the switch (wink)?
Jodi Ziskin is a Certified Pet Nutrition Consultant who also holds a Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition with a concentration in companion animal care. Her mission is to help cats and dogs live healthier and happier. Through her company, Healthy Pet Coach, she educates pet parents in their home environment, via Skype/Facetime or by telephone on how to make the best holistic diet and lifestyle choices for their animal companions. Jodi has been featured in articles appearing in Animal Wellness Magazine, Cat Fancy Magazine and Urban Animal (Australia). She is also a Cat Health Writer for examiner.com and a Nutrition Consultant for Lap Of Love Veterinary Hospice.
Photo of Jodi’s cat Obi enjoying his homecooked meal, used with permission.
Jodi has kindly provided two sample recipes – click on the link to download: Basic Recipe for Homemade Cat Food.