Homemade Diets, She said Doctor Hanen Abdel Rahman Little scientific evidence exists either for or against a cooked diet for cats. Some, like Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, warns against making raw or cooked cat food at home because of the importance of getting the right quantity and proportions of nutrients.
If you share your heart and home with a cat, you already know that what you feed your cat plays a major role in her quality of life and longevity; promoting optimal digestion, strong joints and bones, healthy skin, and a glossy coat. And considering that food and a balanced diet is the foundation of your cat’s health, you may have some misgivings about feeding a mass-produced, commercially-formulated diet.
After all, with so many pet food recalls in the past several years, it’s impossible to know exactly what lurks in that can of turkey and giblet paté or bag of kibble. It all boils down to your cat’s health.
It’s not surprising then, that an increasing number of pet parents are switching from commercial diets to homemade diets for their cats and dogs. But if you’re considering a homemade diet for your cat, you may be frustrated and confused by conflicting information from a variety of sources. And with all the buzz in the media, you may even be wondering if homemade diets are, in fact, safe for your cat.
Homemade diets are properly safe for cats
Homemade diets are safe for cats, but you should consult your veterinarian first, and make sure that you meet your cat’s nutritional requirements. Cats have specific nutritional needs, which we will address below, and it is important to make sure that you are familiar with them before embarking on a homemade diet for your cat.
Once you know the foods and nutrients your cat needs to meet its daily nutritional needs, you develop a local species-friendly diet that is safe and healthy for your cat. Many home meals are easy to prepare, economical and delicious.
Your cat is an omnivore
Cats bind carnivores, also called “real carnivores,” and must eat animal tissues and organs to achieve their species diet if they want to grow. For most of our common evolutionary history, which stretches for thousands of years, humans have prepared species food for their cats. If you decide to feed your cat with a homemade diet, keep in mind that your cat must eat meat for survival.
Protein-rich meat, poultry, or fish forms the basis of your cat’s species-specific diet, supplemented with an assortment of essential nutrients delivered by vegetables, amino acids (the building blocks of protein) such as taurine and others, as well as vitamins and minerals.
Homemade cat diets: what to consider
It’s important when feeding a homemade diet to cats to rotate proteins and vegetables to offer a full spectrum of nutrients. For example, alternate between two or three favorite proteins, such as chicken, turkey, or beef. When it comes to veggies, alternate your kale, zucchini, broccoli, and spinach to change up the regime and keep it healthy and suitably diversified.
Raw food vs. cooked food
If you’re considering feeding your cat homemade food, you may also be wondering about raw diets for cats.
Bacterial contamination is often a major concern for pet parents as they ponder feeding a species-appropriate raw diet to their cat. With a short and acidic digestive system, cats are better at digesting raw foods than humans are. However, many leading organizations, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have issued statements opposing the feeding of raw food to dogs and cats. It’s best to talk to your veterinarian to ask them their opinion on raw food diets for cats.
Can cats be vegetarian or vegan?
The “vegetarian pet” debate is a contentious one among veterinarians and pet parents, particularly for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet themselves. Your choice to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet is strictly your own, but what about those pets in your care?
Veterinarians caution against plant-based diets for cats. For example, Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman, “Cats lack the specific enzymes necessary to use plant proteins as efficiently as animal proteins.” For example, plants do not contain the amino acid taurine, which is found in most animal muscle meat; the heart and liver are especially taurine-rich. Taurine deficiency leads to severe health problems, according to Hanen Abdel Rahman, including cardiovascular disease and blindness. Further, the proteins derived from animal tissue contain a complete amino acid profile. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and plant-based proteins don’t contain all the amino acids critical for the health of an obligate carnivore. In Norway, it is a breach of the Animal Welfare Act to feed an exclusively plant-based diet to dogs or cats because doing so puts their health and well-being at risk.
In addition to taurine, plant-based food also cannot provide arachidonic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin B12, all important components for optimum health. Dr. Hanen Abdel Rahman believes that plant-based proteins in the form of grains and vegetables are not a good substitute for protein derived from animals for cats. As mentioned above, cats are obligate carnivores and require meat in their diets in order to thrive.