If you’re trying to overhaul your own diet and cook more at home, you might be tempted to do the same for your cat. There are plenty of recipes out there for homemade cat food, but a recent study found that many of them don’t provide appropriate nutrition.
Commercial pet foods must meet nutrition and food-safety requirements, but there’s no such requirement for recipes that you find online or in books. A group of veterinarians sampled 114 recipes meant as everyday foods for cats without medical issues, of which 94 had enough information to properly analyse.
The authors found that none of the recipes fully met the National Research Council’s guidelines for pet foods, but five (all authored by veterinarians) came close.
Some of the missing nutrients were vitamins and minerals that you might not think about: choline, iron, thiamine, and zinc, for example. In a few cases, the cat food recipes didn’t have enough protein.
Many of the recipes were vague about instructions, too. For example, whether you drain the fat off ground beef after cooking has a major impact on the fat and vitamin content of the food. Some called for a vitamin supplement to be added, but didn’t say what brand or what kind.
Many of the recipes were missing instructions or cautions, like a recipe that included bones without noting that bones have to be finely ground to make sure they won’t hurt your pet.
The authors told Treehugger that if you really want to feed your cat a homemade food, you can ask a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to help you find or write an appropriate recipe. But if that sounds like too much work or expense, maybe you should just buy the regular ol’ cat food at the grocery store.