Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 25, 2023 by Crystal Uys

Women preparing dinner in the kitchen with cat

The subject of raw vs. cooked cat food is an often hotly debated topic, and recent position statements against raw feeding by several high profile organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Assocation and the ASPCA have only added fuel to the fire. The amount of misinformation about the so-called dangers of raw feeding is staggering and defies common sense.

I don’t think it’s necessary to take an “all or nothing” stand when it comes to feline nutrition. Raw feeding is not for everyone, and if it exceeds a cat guardian’s comfort level, it’s not the right choice for that cat and that family. However, I do believe that it is important to feed our cats a diet that is as minimally processed as possible.

If you’re not comfortable feeding raw, but want to not only feed a minimally processed diet to your cats, but also be in control of exactly what goes into your cat’s food, you may want to consider making your own cat food.  The following resources can help you make a balanced diet for your cat. Some of them will even help you formulate an appropriate diet for cats with health issues.

My favorite resource is Dr. Lisa Pierson’s site, She shares her time tested recipes, along with step-by-step instructions, for raw and lightly cooked diets on her site, in her article titled Making Cat Food.  She also shares her reasons for why she decided to make her own cat food.

Cat next to vegetables tomato peppers
Image Credit: milaslavskaia, Shutterstock is an independent consulting group for veterinary professionals and individual pet owners seeking nutritional advice. They will formulate a diet for healthy pets and pets with health challenges. Fees will vary according to what type of diet is needed. allows you to view and download recipes for healthy pets. Recipes for pets with health issues require a veterinarian’s approval.

Allegra and Ruby have been eating raw food for almost two years now, and both of them are thriving. I barely cook for myself, so I don’t see myself cooking for them. Occasionally, they eat grain-free canned food – both for variety, and because I want to know that they will eat canned food if it would ever become necessary in an emergency situation.

For more on my recommendations, visit the Feline Nutrition section right here on this site. I also provide one-on-one consultations if you need help with transitioning your cat to a healthier diet.

Would you consider cooking for your cat?

Are processed foods at the root of all feline illness?

The best food for your cat: my recommendations

Featured Image Credit: Olezzo, Shutterstock

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39 Comments on Cooking for your cat: how to make a balanced homemade diet

  1. YAY, I applaud your decision to feed your cats raw. I currently have three that have been on raw since they were about eight weeks old. They are now about 18 months. However, I’ve been feeding raw longer than the time I’ve had these little hoodlums!(GRIN, I love them to death!)

    I had a Dilute Calico (Snuggles) who was diagnosed with pretty advanced CKD (I felt go guilty!) at about 15 yoa. The vets wanted me to feed her a prescription diet at $2 a can! I couldn’t swallow that price so started looking for an alternative and found I put her on raw as soon as I could purchase a grinder and supplements. Fortunately, she took to it right away without any transition! I kept her with me for 2.5 years and lost her two years ago next month. I kept her as healthy as possible through that time and then she was diagnosed with cancer in the spleen and stomach. I’ve always said that I would not allow an animal to suffer in order to avoid suffering myself. Had I chosen to treat her I would have only prolonged the suffering for her. She was a wonderful girl with me for 17 years and I treasure that time.

    Of course, the American Veterinary Medical Assocation is objecting to the trend of feeding species appropriate diets! Part of the reason for my three being on raw is to keep them healthier! The receive no grain that their bodies cannot process and leads to kidney damage, their food has chunks of meat and bones and the process of chewing on that keeps their teeth and gums healthy! By feeding them a species appropriate diet I’m going to save money on vet bills! Money that they view as me taking right out of their pockets! And don’t get me started on the pet food industry!

    After Snuggles diagnosis I did A LOT of research and reading! I’m convinced that raw is the best that I can do for them. And, by they way, they will eat canned wet food but they are so accustomed to having to chew that they scarf up the canned and throw it up before they get away from the feeding station. Fortunately, I have a very good friend who would take them in a snap and if necessary would pay someone to make raw food for them. Also fortunately, she can afford the best and does so for her critters!

  2. Hi Ingrid! I make homemade raw food following the recipe from feline nutrition website, however, to warm it up before serving I poured 5-6tbsp of boiling water to bring the temperature to room temp. I noticed it kinda (very) lightly cooked the meat since it turns from bright pink to slightly brown-pink upon touching the water. Kinda help to ease my mind that perhaps the heat helps to kill surface bacteria while minimally ruin the goodness in the raw meat (or I’d like to hope so! Crossing fingers!). I’d like to know, how do you warm up the raw meat prior serving, Ingrid? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Chikka, I use the same recipe for mine. I put the food in snack bags and let it sit for a few minutes in really hot water. If I leave it too long it does the same thing as what you experience but I try to avoid that as the cooking process destroys some of the nutrients.

      As long as you are sanitary in making the food they will be fine. I’ve been feeding raw for about four years now. Their digestive tracts are very short so whatever might be on the chicken (I assume) is out of their bodies before they can be infected. They also have some built in antibodies that help protect them from most everything.

      Keep it up! It’s the best that you can do for them.

  3. Hi. I have a female cat aged 10 months. I lost a cat in the past due to illness leading to multiple organ failure. She would not eat anything but dry food. This made me cautious and i keep my current cat away from commercial food, specifically dry food. I am currently feeding her homemade food. I boil 1 chicken breast with a slice of packed frozen pink skinless salmon and organ meats (hearts, gizzards and liver). I then blend it into a paste along with the water it was cooked in and feed it to my cat. Twice in a week i feed her friskies canned food to make sure she is not missing out on any nutrients which i maybe skipping in homemade food and also as an alternative diet for when she is kept in boarding while we are on vacation. I do plan to slowly introduce veggies into the food i make. Do i need to add any supplements to the food and if so, should i consult a vet for the same? I haven’t already because most vets cringe when they hear about cats being fed homemade food and would advise switching to commercial food, which I don’t want to, unless i am doing more harm this way. Please help.

    • You need to be sure that your homemade diet is balanced, and that means adding supplements. You can consult with the two organizations mentioned in this article, and you’ll find more information, including a recipe, here:

    • Shilpa, you definitely need to be adding supplements! I haven’t yet reviewed Ingrids recipe but I’m assuming that she adds supplements. Taurine in particular is very important! Without taurine cats can go blind. Look at Ingrids recipe and if you want another option the one I use is on Feline

      Keep up the raw but as Ingrid says, you really need to make sure that it is balanced and has all of the necessary supplements.

  4. My cat has hyperthyroidism and kidney disease. She isn’t tolerating the thyroid medication at all. After being sent home with the sample pack of Hill’s k/d, I did a ton of research and decided to transition her to raw food with a few modifications I found to decrease phosphorus. She loves it but is having some nausea issues and not always eating her meal all at once. I want to have something she will eat that is good for her that she can pick at overnight and hopefully prevent her from eating really fast and throwing up in the morning. Can I lightly bake her raw food and use some for overnight or will that not be safe to leave out? My other option would be a grain free canned food, but that wouldn’t be low phosphorus (I researched a ton of brands that I have available) and she prefers the raw. She was remarkably easy to switch to raw!

    • I would not leave lightly or even fully home cooked food out overnight – I don’t think that’s safe. It’s probably okay to leave out canned food overnight.

      • Thank you. I haven’t been able to find a canned food with low enough phosphorus levels that I can buy locally and that has meat as the main ingredients. This has been a crazy couple months trying to get her stabilized and I just need her to eat and stop losing weight.

  5. I just took a cat from a animals foster. What food is the best for him? I have no idea, this is the first cat for me. I just want him to be happy, healthy and full of energy. Internet is full of advice, i’m confused.

    • You can find my recommendations here, Jennifer:

  6. My vet wants me to feed my Maine Coon cat a prescription c/d diet. I almost lost him over the 4th of July with a blocked urethra and other complications. Do any of the raw foods come with supplements or can I buy them and add it to the raw food? To me the raw diet makes more sense…

    • The commercial raw diets I recommend are complete and balanced for healthy cats, but for a cat with a history of urinary blockages, you want to work closely with a vet who is well-versed in nutrition to make sure you supplement the diet appropriately. Depending on what caused the blockage, you may need to add supplements to achieve the desired urinary ph value. If you can’t find a vet local to you, there are some holistic vets who will do remote nutritional consultations.

    • Hey Nancy McKechnie,
      I almost lost my cat 3 weeks ago because of a blocked urethra too. did you find anything to feed your cat other than the Hills Prescription C/D diet? I have been doing my own research and it turns out there’s ZERO evidence for the benefits it claims. I also found out that it contains ZERO ingredients that actually need a prescription. which means you don’t legally need a prescription for it. confused? Well, I found out that the sales of Hill’s Prescription Diet to the public are restricted, not by law, but by Hill’s themselves. and only sell to Vets. and it will sometimes give them free food for vets to make 100% profit to only endorse their “VET RECOMMENDED” meaningless slogan–basically it is a HUGEEEEE marketing scam. Please let me know if you found anything! email: [email protected]

      • Prescription diets are not a good nutritional choice for cats. Here’s more information:

        You may want to work with a holistic vet in having a homemade diet formulated that is appropriate for cats with urinary tract issues. I believe Dr. Lisa Pierson of offers consultations.

  7. Hi Ingrid! I hope you’re still receiving notifications for this article. My beautiful girl has been on Wellness grain-free canned food for the past 13yrs but we recently had to switch to a prescription diet (bleegcchh!) due to a pancreatitis attack. Since 90% of pancreatitis attacks are ‘idiopathic’, we’re not sure if her little tummy is just more sensitive due to age. The diet (Purina Veterinary Diet EN canned food) contains rice which I know is completely unnecessary for her as a carnivore. I’m considering making her food at home using Dr. Pierson’s recipe (mostly for peace of mind because I’m always scouring the internet looking for cat food recalls). I would love to feed her raw, but she eats several small meals throughout the day (and sometimes doesn’t finish it all in 1 sitting). I’m away from the house from 7a-6p making it difficult to discard any remaining raw food after 30 mins. I’d very much like to use her recipe, but fully cook the chicken to enable me to leave it out for her to graze on at her leisure. Do you think this would be possible? I reasoned that canned food is ‘cooked’ anyhow, so it should be OK, but if you have any personal experience with this, I would greatly appreciate any advice! 🙂

    • I don’t like the EN diet, either, Sarah. I think cooked food could be a good option for your girl, and Dr. Pierson’s recipe is a great one. This article has a link to another recipe from a source I trust:

  8. I have to say Ingrid, I’ve always been an advocate for dry food, but from reading your website I’m thinking my fluffball Bernard might be getting some home-cooked food this week!!

  9. I finally got around to reading this article along with Dr. Pierson’s very detailed recipe and information page. This is not beyond our abillities and it may prove to be our only financially viable option to get our guys off of dry food. Time I’ve got, over 300 bucks a month for kitty food I don’t which is roughly what it would cost us to feed everybody what we’re feeding little Saul.

    I will probably go with the cooked version of Dr. Pierson’s recipe because as I mentioned elsewhere our vet is vehemantly against feeding raw and I don’t believe I can change his mind. One question, how the devil do you measure however many MG of supplement if you buy it loose? Capsules are easy but I can’t see an easy way to do this.

    Tom Mary Beth and the Furries.

    • I’m sure there’s a way to translate mg into teaspoons or fractions of a teaspoon. It may tell you on the supplement bottle, or you can contact the manufacturer.

  10. Some definite food-for-thought here, Ingrid. (I know, sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

    For many years, I was a die hard ‘raw only!’ advocate. Over time, however, I’ve mellowed a bit and, while I still push raw to the nth degree and consider it the most nutritious diet possible – I’ve become more willing to help cat owners who can’t or won’t do raw with alternatives, such as lightly cooking their foods. First, because even lightly cooked fresh foods are many degrees healthier than standard commercial diets and second, because once they see the amazing difference a nutritious diet can make in their cat’s health and vitality, they become much more willing to take that final step to full raw.

    I have yet to actually put such encouragement in writing (as you have here), but I’m getting there! ;-}

  11. Allie’s on raw. And all of us get grain free pouches/cans opened for us periodically for the same reasons you mention – in case of emergency. And Faraday likes the freeze dried raw, too. Which is also nice for emergencies.

    Mom & dad have discussed “cooking” up raw nuggets & freezing them in ice cube trays … but haven’t found a recipe yet that they’re 100% comfortable with (though to be honest, they haven’t had the time recently to try). But they want to!

    We would imagine it’s cheaper – but is it time consuming?

    • Most people who make their own raw food will make large batches at a time, so I would imagine that while it may take a bit of time maybe once a month or so, it’s not all that time consuming (assuming you have the freezer space).

  12. I would love to cook for my cats especially one of them whose name is Mahoney. She has had bouts of lots and lots of throwing up and I have taken her off the dry food ( not easy with all these cats here) and I am cooking Chicken for her and would love to see about these recipes.Big improvement just taking her off the dry food. I cannot afford the raw feeding. And I might not be able to afford the recipes but no harm in looking at them. I really want to help this particular cat. I rescued her when she was only about 4 weeks old. So she is special to me. Not that they aren’t all special.

    • I’m happy to hear that taking Mahoney off dry food already helped, Marg. You may see some more improvement if you try a home-cooked diet. Take a look at the resources in this post and see if those fall within your budget. Next week’s post may also provide some inexpensive recipes for you.

  13. I’m going to give it another shot, I love the idea of my shelter stray getting better food. My biggest problem is that he’s a fussy cat about silly things and will only eat or dring (wet stuff) by dipping a paw or scoopint it up. This leads to food and water all over. The water dries, but the food was a real mess! But I have gotten him over to good grain free at least, and his fur really shows it. Plus, he’s a white cat with pale blue eyes (first non-black cat for me), and he had black tear stains when I got him, and they have cleared up, so more points for good food = healthy cats (and people).

    • Sounds like you’re doing everything right with your shelter stray. It’s amazing how much of a difference just taking the grain out of their diet can make, isn’t it? Buckley was a messy eater, too – sometimes, more food ended up outside the bowl than in her!

  14. Our human’s kitchen is piled up with recipes for her but very few for us! We told her she needs to start thinking about someone other than herself, so we’ve all been browsing the computer in the kitchen for recipes we like. We love our raw diet and can’t wait to see what she comes up with–thanks for the links!

  15. My human loves to cook and she has started looking for information on diets for us kitties, because she’d love to cook for us too (see how well I trained her?).
    So thank you for these links. She will definitely check them!

  16. Thank you for good basic information. I will definitely be reading through the links provided. Allthough I do feed mostly raw, I too do not believe in an all or nothing approach. I too use grain free canned and I still use a little grain free kibble as treats and for food puzzle toys. Of my two rescues, Shira gobbled the raw I offered her right after bringing her home. My second rescue, Adi, would not even eat the grain free kibble nor the canned I offered upon bringing her home. It was a slow process, but now she too will eat raw with great delight.

    • Ruby balked at her raw food the first night in my home (she was raised on a grocery store brand dry kitten food), but I held firm – and she hasn’t looked back since. You never know until you try – but even if it takes time, it’s well worth making the switch.

  17. This sounds good, and I would be happy to cook for my cats; however, they are both extremely picky and one does not even like to eat canned food– he is hooked on the dry crunchy stuff. I buy the grain-free kind (Taste of the Wild), and they like it, but any attempts to introduce canned or raw were unsuccessful.

    • I’d encourage you to keep trying to wean your cats off the dry food, Natasha. Some of these hardcore dry food addicts can be very difficult to transition, and it can sometimes takes weeks or even months, but it’s so worth it in terms of the longterm health benefits. Here are some tips on how to do it: – and these tips also apply to switching your cat to a homecooked or raw diet, or even from a low quality canned to a better quality grain-free canned diet.

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