Are Homemade Cat Diets Safe?



A new study from University of California – Davis examined homemade cat food recipes from both books and online sources and found a troubling trend—none of them provided all the essential nutrients to meet the National Research Council's recommendations for adult felines. Seven percent of the recipes even included ingredients that are potentially toxic to cats, such as garlic or garlic powder, onions and leeks.


The researchers looked at 114 recipes written by both veterinarians and non-veterinarians. Though recipes devised by veterinarians were more likely to provide more nutrients, most of the examined recipes were lacking concentrations of three or more nutrients, with some being deficient in up to 19 essential nutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin E.


The study found that 40 percent of the recipes did not provide adequate feeding instructions and that many of the recipes lacked detail or were unclear. Recipes that called for raw animal products often did not mention the possible risks of bacterial contamination associated with this feeding method. Others that included bones as ingredients did not instruct cat owners to grind them in order to prevent gastrointestinal tears.


Retailers may see a surge in customers asking about homemade cat food diets. With concerns over commercial pet foods sourced from China and movements towards raw and even vegan diets, pet parents may be considering taking their pet’s diet into their own hands. To assuage customer concerns, retailers can recommend pet food brands that are formulated to provide proper amounts of essential nutrients, diets with ingredients sourced from the U.S. and recipes that use organic ingredients. They can also recommend brands that developed out of the raw pet food movement and make it easy for pet parents to use this feeding method.


If a customer is insistent on using a homemade cat food diet, retailers should recommend that they stay away from the internet. Instead, they should advise working with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist who can develop a homemade diet that delivers proper amounts of nutrients, ensuring that a cat stays healthy.


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