More and more owners are shifting to natural food from manufactured cat food due to reports of too much preservatives in dry or canned cat food. The preservatives have been linked to urinary tract infection and/or kidney disease in a number of cats.
Other owners, however, decided to look for manufactured cat food with no salt, no artificial coloring, and no artificial flavoring.
But dry and canned food cost a lot more than natural food, specially if the owner will buy the best-manufactured food in the market.
So some cat owners have decided on natural food.
Owners who do want to shift to natural food is advised to shift their cat to natural food slowly. Any abrupt change in diet can cause the immune system to weaken.
Julie Edgar in Homemade Cat Food and Raw Cat Food in WebMD says a number of cat owners are “doing it themselves—the pet food scares of recent years have, by some accounts, motivated the trend…”
Edgar stresses that some vets have warned about quality control, the risks of bacterial contamination and compromising nutritional value if one will give raw or homemade food.
“If you choose to go it alone, be warned: Making your own cat food is an exacting and time-consuming business. Striking the right balance of ingredients, including vitamins and minerals, and properly storing the food are critical for a happy and healthy animal,“ Edgar says.
These are what cats need, Edgar says:
*Protein from meat or fish
Amino acids like taurine and arginine (from meat or fish)
Cats do not need rice and corn but a small amount of carbohydrates will provide energy and reduce the cost, says Rebecca Remillard, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist from the MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.
The Risks and the Rewards of Raw Cat Food
Remillard says “raw meat in diets is neither safe nor nutritionally sound.”
The American Animal Hospital Association warns that both cat and human are at risk of salmonella poisoning.
“There are a lot of people who want to feed raw. I tell them they have to be aware of zoonotic (animal to human) disease transmission, food safety, and contagion issues. I don’t think veterinarians should get upset about it, but they should make clear the health issues,” Remillard says.
The raw meat diet can also spoil easily and might not be detected if the owner left the food for too long or left the house for a certain period of time, Remillard says
But Edgar says Lisa Pierson, a veterinarian in California, has not had “issues with bacterial contamination in the six years she has made her own cat food because she is careful: She knows where the meat comes from, she parboils mostly rabbit and bone-in chicken, grinds it herself, and adds minerals like taurine to make sure her cats are eating a balanced diet.”
“She says it’s also cheaper than higher-quality canned food and would take an owner of two cats about two hours a month to make, “ Edgar says.
The Risks and Rewards of Cooked Food
“Little scientific evidence exists either for or against a cooked diet for cats,” Edgar says.
Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, “warned against making raw or cooked cat food at home because of the importance of getting the right quantity and proportions of nutrients, “ Edgar adds.
Remillard does not push home cooked cat food but she says it might work as long as the cat owner has consulted a veterinarian-nutritionist.
Below are sample recipes:
Raw Meat Diet
This recipe from Pierson will provide food for 10-14 days for an average cat. For more guidelines, Edgar suggests going to www.catinfo.org.
3 pounds of whole fowl or rabbit, including bones, organs, and skin
1 cup water
2 eggs (use raw yolks, and lightly cook the whites)
2000 mg wild salmon oil
400 IU vitamin E (powdered E in capsule form works)
100 mg vitamin B-complex (start with a smaller amount when beginning a raw meat diet; the vitamin has a strong odor)
2000 mg taurine, powdered
¾ tsp lite salt with iodine (when using chicken parts)
Liver (add 4 oz if the meat you are using does not include organs)
Psyllium (add when first introducing the raw meat diet to your cat.Seewww.catinfo.orgfor additional information on this)
Home cooked food:
This recipe from the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center provides for a day’s feeding of an average 12-pound adult cat with no medical problems.
“Use a dietary gram scale to weigh out foods until you get accustomed to the correct measurements, and make sure all ingredients are well blended before serving. The food must be kept refrigerated or frozen between meals, and for palatability’s sake, warmed before being given to your cat,” Edgar says
Mix the following ingredients:
*Protein: cooked dark meat chicken, beef, pork, lamb, salmon, or tuna (83 grams or 3 wt-ounces)
Carbohydrate: cooked white rice, oatmeal, barley, corn, peas, or pasta (50 grams or 1/3 cup)
Fiber: cooked sweet potato, without skin (30 grams or 1/5 cup)
Fat (optional): vegetable, safflower, olive oil or fish oil (1/4 teaspoon)
Balance IT Feline: 2.7 grams or half a red scoop (in the container). This is a commercial blend of vitamins and minerals. DC
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