Cat Food Recipe

dry cat food
Cat food recipe – Photo: © Stockxpert

Contents:  Dry Cat Food  |  Raw Cat Food  |  Other posts on cat food  |  Cat Food Recipe example  |

This article looks at how cat food has evolved from simple prey (now substituted by a made up raw cat food diet) to highly convenient dry cat food and discusses some of the pros and cons. It not really for cat breeders as they have or should have an awareness of the possibility of preparing raw cat food, some do this. Research actually indicates that cat breeders use a range of cat foods including sometimes raw, home made cat food and dry cat food. See purebred pedigree cat breeders (opens in a new window)

Some people think that dry cat food is unnatural and pushed on people who keep cats by veterinarians who benefit directly by selling Hills® dry cat food at surgeries (or on the internet) at good margins. And they benefit indirectly through Hills® sponsoring the American Veterinary Medical Association and being associated with Veterinary colleges. We can’t criticize Hills® for being commercially minded but is it at the expense of cat health? There is no clear cut answer. Their dry cat food is highly convenient and largely liked by cats.

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Part 1 – a discussion of dry cat food

The Cat Food Recipe has changed. Have you seen a cat eat grain (cereal) as his staple diet? Does your cat share your cereal breakfast in the morning? When cats became domesticated some 9,000 years ago, and did their bit to keep the rodents away from the grain storage, did the cats ever eat the grain instead of the mice?

If they did there wouldn’t be domestic cats now as their purpose was to catch rodents (who ate the grain) to help to protect the farmer’s crop.

You must think I’m crazy to ask this dumb question – the answer is obviously, “No”. (except my cat occasionally likes a bit of my oat cereal with a tiny bit of milk at the bottom of the bowl ).

Actually, though, the answer is,”Yes”. At least to the question, “Have you seen a cat eat grain?”. Because your cat almost certainly eats a lot of it every day despite being a carnivore. How did this come about?



Update: Early 2009: I have built a page on Homemade cat food that contains cat breeder cat food recipes for a well balanced and fully supplemented raw food diet. See the post here: Raw Food Diet.


Dry Cat Food

Dry cat food is in the ascendancy. It is popular because it is convenient for both cats and humans. It is also a product that is easier to handle for the manufacturers. It is therefore a profitable product.

The problem though is that the manufacturing of dry food incorporates an extrusion process that requires starch (sugars) to make it work. Dry cat food is based therefore on foods such as corn and potato, high carb ingredients. The food is made palpable to the cat by spraying it with animal by-products (called meat digests). Cats by the way cannot taste sweet tasting food (new window).

dry cat food
Photo: © PHBascon reproduced under creative commons

If you were looking at the cat food market a little cynically, you could argue that the companies making dry cat food prioritize profit over welfare. This is to be expected as their raison d’etre is to make profit. The thing is that the thinking is possibly too short term.

Eventually (and this will be a slow process) people who keep cats will turn away from such foods. This is happening but the convenience of dry cat food plus good business pulls people back. Dry cat food recipe is similar to human cereal such as sugar coated flakes. It is moreish.

Weight Gain

The effect on a cat eating dry cat food based on grain and corn etc. is that she/he is liable to put on weight.

In part, this is because a cat’s automatic signal to say stop is based upon the amount of protein eaten and not sugars. The cat doesn’t get the stop signal.


fat cat
Photo: © Beck E reproduced under creative commons

And for me, there is also what I would call the “hypoglycemic cycle”. And this applies to humans too (I’ve experienced this). You eat high carb food. You get a sugar high. It wears off plus your pancreas produces insulin to lower the blood sugar level.

You feel dizzy (I do) and/or feel starved. You crave food and eat too much too soon. The cycle continues if you are cat eating dry cat food.

Wet Cat Food

In contrast wet cat food has a more natural cat food recipe not requiring starch in its manufacture or enhancers (meat digests). Although when you read the cat food recipe on the tin, it is, frankly, quite alarming (although to be expected). There is very little actual meat, 80+% “moisture” (water) and vegetable matter (is this canned food a kind of minestrone soup?). Anyway wet food of the right type (please read the ingredients) is preferable.

I think you are going to have to spend more on cat food (I am) to find some quality,  which means a cat food recipe that more nearly replicates a feral cat diet.

Conclusion

In conclusion dry cat food can it seems result in an overweight cat, which in turn carries health consequences. There is also the issue of feline diabetes, which I have discussed on this page. Some veterinarians believe that dry cat food rather than helping to clean a cat’s teeth promotes the growth of oral bacteria and gum disease.

I will discuss this subject more in subsequent postings and links.

I have changed my cat’s diet as I believe that a major contributory factor in her weight gain has been her diet.

Update Aug 2008: I have seen very little change since feeding much more wet food for the past year or so. I find this disappointing. She does though seem more active. I still feel that dry cat food is unnatural and perhaps a higher quality wet cat food is needed. I am sourcing this. I actually feed a combination diet of some dry food, some wet food and some microwaved frozen fish with added water. I’d like to try raw cat food but the difficulty of sourcing ingredients and preparation time and risk put me off.

Disclaimer

There is no connection as far as I am aware between the cat food illustrated on this page and overweight cats generally or the fat cat illustrated. Neither do I know why the cat illustrated is fat (except for the fact that he must eat too much).

Sources in respect of the above:

  • My own experiences
  • “Your Cat” author Elizabeth M Hodgkins DVM

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Part 2 – a discussion on raw cat food

These things spring to my mind about a cat food recipe that is in fact raw cat food:

  • How do I make it?
  • Will it be made up properly and benefit my cat?
  • Where do I get the raw materials other than use human food?
  • What supplements do I need or do I need supplements?
  • Is it better than commercial cat food?

There are downsides to commercial cat food, some of which I mentioned above. The wet food frankly looks very commercial, you know, factory floor scrapings that have been dressed up.

I would expect very few people to try and replicate a true raw food diet, the “prey model”. That means feeding our cat mice and birds etc. at a basic level. This is natural but are wild cats who eat prey healthier because of their diet than domestic cats? The jury is out on that. Prey model diets contain bone and bone can puncture the digestive tract and break teeth. That is one example of a possible downside to a prey cat food recipe. Ground bones would seem to be a wise alternative. Other downsides of using raw meat are the classic bacterial (such as salmonella) and parasitic infections that can be picked up. This is avoided when buying commercially prepared cat food which is treated to high temperatures, one reason why it contains “ash” – see below. People also live with the risk of bacterial infection in preparing a raw cat food recipe. (see for example cat feces and pregnancy [new window])

A raw food prey model cat food recipe contains about 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% internal organs. Supplements are not added except sometimes fish oil to balance the loss of this ingredient in commercially reared animals.

A more refined (perhaps) raw diet is the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food (BARF). This contains 60%-80% raw “meaty bones” (a mixture of bones and meat). The remainder is a mixture of vegetables, offal, dairy foods, meat, eggs. The raw products come from farming and farm foods are made for humans. This may introduce problems such as the medication given to farm animals. These chemicals can remain in body of the farm animal and get transfered to the cat food recipe.

The biggest problem would seem to be creating consistency of quality when making up a raw cat food recipe. There doesn’t seem to be enough control, research, knowledge and focus on this form of cat food for customers to sure that their raw cat food recipe is not only nutritional but better than a commercial product. People will play safe and buy commercial.

It has been suggested that Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards can create a false sense of security in the quality of the diet produced. AAFCO is a commercial enterprise.

Winn Feline Foundation researchers from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, in what appears to be a careful study found that the prey model raw food diet (mimicking prey it was whole rabbit, frozen) failed to provide enough taurine which naturally occurred in the rabbit. This resulted in one cat dying of HCM and 70% of the others suffering heart muscle changes. (see Bengal cat and HCM for further reading). A lack of taurine is known to make cats vulnerable to HCM. And see the “cat food, rice and taurine” post below.

The cats on the raw cat food recipe did however have brighter coats and better feces indicative of better health. However the HCM overrides this obviously. This to me shows the dangers inherent in making up one’s own raw food cat food recipe. It is suggested that people who do take this route should seek veterinarian check ups periodically to make sure all is well. Can vets though advise on diet objectively bearing in mind the affiliations with Hills® mentioned above?

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Part 3 – Other posts on the Blogger site on cat food

Other reading – links not in bold open new windows, please note:

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A cat food recipe example

Update: Click on the link for Homemade Cat Food (new window) advice from Bengal cat breeders in the United States.

Here is a recipe from another website:

  • 1 cup of corn meal or Polenta (Cook with 4 cups of water and add to rest of the ingredients which are fed raw.
  • 2 eggs 2 tablespoons

    of vegetable oil or butter. (Less if fatty meats are used)

  • 2 pounds of minced meat red or white; (liver/heart/kidney/tripe) or fish or a combination.
  • 4 tables spoons

    of ‘Supplement’ Powder (see below)

  • 2 tablespoons of bonemeal (3,000 mg of Calcium or 1-3/4 teaspoon of eggshell powder
  • 10,000 units of Vitamin A (fish oils)
  • 150 i.u. Vitamin E
  • 1 teaspoon of raw fresh veggies with each meal.

Cat Food Recipe Directions:

Feed 3/4 to 1-1/2 cups to your cat with each meal
Oats (2 cups before cooking) rice, or potatoes (4 cups cooked) can be used in place of corn as a grain substitute or a combination
Always add about 500 mg of Taurine to cat recipes if you cook the meats.

Cat Food Recipe courtesy of I-Love-Cats.com

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Comments

Cat Food Recipe — 5 Comments

  1. Its a well researched article Michael, Thanks for sharing this with us.

    But…the situation is very different here with me. I do not hesitate to spend money on quality food for my cats but unfortunately or maybe they are free roaming cats, so they do not like wet food or any raw food, they just vomit or start loose stools. Therefore I feed them dry food or half cooked meat. once a week I feed them a small portion of chicken liver. They drink milk a lot and they are really very very beautiful and healthy. The big cats of mine are also eager to catch rats here and with the grace of Allah Subhanahu, no rats in my house now and the neighbors are just barking out loudly that all rats are in their house now, (It means that they have to LOVE cats now 😉 )

    Dry food is not dangerous for my cats as I have experienced it from 16 years. For 9 years I have caring for the the cats but for 16 years my wife used to feed a black cat who was a full size young cat at that time and now I have calculated her age with the help of a pics graph of Alley cat Allies website, she was estimated 6 years old, she died in 2009 in front of my terrace door silently at the age of 21. Is it a miracle or what but Feral cats have much survival power than those cats which are artificially bred by the breeders. I decided to go for FERAL CATS since then.

    In 2006 when I started to take care for this small colony, I started with pure RAW chicken and I observed that after they had the best raw food, they started vomiting and loose stools, and afterwards when ever I put the raw food, they all ran away with some fear and that money wasted for the DAMN CROWS.

    I started the dry food which they ate as happily as nothing else and then I observed that their dry skins, their falling hairs of coat was neat and clean and they started grooming, even those with swollen eyes became okay and they started drinking fresh water and milk. The young kittens started to come twice/thrice to me for the food and their parents appears the same but they are happy and they run fast across the streets, they were suddenly totally changed.

    From this experience, I concluded that what the cat likes and what food fits her taste is the best for her (only on one condition, if that food is not good for her health, if any health issue is diagnosed, may stop feeding) otherwise All IS WeLL 🙂

    • Interesting Ahsan. Dry cat food is very popular and widely used in the West too. There is just a couple of problems with it: high carbohydrates and no water. But it may be better than straight raw food under certain circumstances. I guess you have read my page (written years ago) on a raw cat food diet:

      http://pictures-of-cats.org/raw-food-diet.html

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with dry cat food in Pakistan. It extends the discussion.

          • Therefore, it is my experience that
            IT’S an ART
            To make a RAW DIET for any animal, Michael.

            RAW DIET makes several problems:

            1. Worms
            2. Stomach upset
            3. Gums and teeth upset
            4. Harden the skin of animal
            5. Forcing the animal biting tendencies
            6. MAD BRAIN towards human problem
            7. psychological upset.

            Depends on the atmosphere, too.

            The cats of HOT WEATHER areas get instantly mad, hyper and loose their psyche. While its good in cold weather countries to protect for cold, raw is best with raw fat, too.

            These are my personal experiences not a vet experiment, actually I spend nearly 8 hours in FERAL CATS therefore think like a feral 😉 <3 😀

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