Nutritional Guidelines for Homemade Cat Food

Homemade cat food can be a great way to ensure that your cat is receiving high-quality ingredients that will improve his health and quality of life. However, make sure you are aware of all the nutrients your cat requires so you can provide a balanced diet that won't lead to a nutrient deficiency.

Choosing Ingredients

Industry standards for commercial cat food suggest a minimum of 26 percent protein and 9 percent fat. However, in the wild, cats consume about 47 percent protein and 33 percent fat. Thus, when preparing your cat's diet, you want to rely largely on protein sources. Cats are carnivores, not omnivores like dogs.

When choosing protein sources for your cat, remember to pick things that they might actually consume in the wild. Cats will prefer poultry and fish to beef and lamb. Try to choose organic products, since animals aren't accustomed to digesting the chemical products often found in farmed meat.

Rotate protein sources to prevent your cat from developing an allergy to an overfed food. Ground meat is a good choice. Feed it raw if your cat will eat it. If not, you can cook a minimal amount of time, no more than 20 minutes. Cats are very picky about the quality of their meat, so make sure it's fresh.

Cats don't eat fruits or vegetables, so they're not necessary for a homemade diet. In fact, your cat may not even eat them. Eggs are a good addition to the diet, as well as a minimal amount of grain sources. Unlike dogs, cats seem to prefer ground corn, so cornmeal or polenta can add extra substance without a lot of additional cost.

Choosing Supplements

Cats receive many of their vitamins from the meat they eat, but if you are rotating proteins, you want to ensure they are receiving everything they need. Thus, supplementing with a few vitamins can drastically improve the quality of your homemade diet.

  • Cats require calcium, which is found naturally in bones. Adding bone meal or raw bones to your cat's diet will ensure he receives enough calcium. Kelp powder and brewer's yeast are also quality nutritional additions.
  • Cats require linoleic acid, which can be found in safflower, sunflower or corn oil, and arachindonic acid, which can be found in cod liver oil. Dried beans and fish like sardines and tuna are also high in linoleic acid.
  • Cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is an essential addition to a cat's diet since he doesn't receive it from vegetables as dogs do. Vitamin A and D capsules can also be added. Vitamins D and E are important additions.
  • Cats require taurine, which can be added to your cat's food in tablet form or by including organ meat, such as heart, a few times per week. Tuna, mackerel and clams are also high in taurine.

Putting together a homemade diet may sound like a difficult task, but many veterinarians have simple recipes available that you can follow. If you do your research, a homemade diet can improve your cat's health and get him excited about mealtime.