How to Make Cat Food (and Kitty Treats!)

How to Make Cat Food

For many, the thought of learning how to make cat food may be a daunting task, especially when you look at the ingredients of commercial cat food.

Corn gluten? Chicken byproduct meal? How would one even go about making pet food with ingredients such as these?

In actuality, making your own pet food is as easy as making your own!

Once you understand how a feline body works, you will come to realize that not only is homemade the best way, but that it should be the only way.

Discontent with Contents

The main reason for making your own cat food is the ingredients- cats are NOT omnivorous, meaning that their bodies are not meant to process foods such as rice, corn, potatoes, etc. Note that all of these are ingredients that are commonly found in most commercial pet foods!home made cat food

When you make your own food, you can make sure that you are feeding your cats the meat that they need for survival.

Cats have always been carnivores, and because of this, should NOT be fed a vegetarian diet. Cats have some unique nutritional needs that a strictly vegetarian diet cannot satisfy. They have a need for arachidonic acid (that plants do not make), and an animal source of this nutrient must be given.

Cats also have a unique need for taurine, and foods supplied from plant material contain no taurine. If a cat is fed a vegetarian diet appropriate for humans your cat will over time start to develop nutrient deficiencies that could severely harm their livelihood. (If you still wish for your cat to follow a vegetarian diet, please see a veterinary nutritionist to discuss their extra nutritional needs.)

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Counting Calories

The next concern when learning how to make cat food is making sure you are feeding your cat the proper amount to maintain a healthy weight. Did you know that most commercial dry cat foods are so calorically dense (roughly 400 calories/cup) that a cat should only eat about a quarter cup of food twice daily? When you think about it, that’s really not a lot of food!

Many cats all over the United States are severely overweight and most of this is attributed to the commercial dry cat food that they are being fed. This combined with free feeding (leaving the bowl out all day and refilling when empty), are the main contributing factors to feline obesity.

It is much easier to determine a cat’s calorific requirements than a dog’s because most cats are under 20 pounds, whereas a dog’s weight can vary anywhere from 5 to well over 100 pounds!

To find your cat’s daily calorific requirements, please see the chart below. The chart is from a great book called Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative. (I’ll post an Amazon link soon.)

Daily Calorific Requirements for Cats

Indoor Outdoor Growing Pregnancy Lactation
 lb.  Kcal    Kcal    Kcal    Kcal    Kcal
4.0 127 4.0 145 1.0 141 4.0 182 4.0 455
4.5 143 4.5 164 1.5 192 4.5 205 4.5 511
5.0 159 5.0 159 2.0 231 5.0 227 5.0 568
5.5 175 5.5 200 2.5 260 5.5 250 5.5 625
6.0 191 6.0 218 3.0 281 6.0 273 6.0 682
6.5 207 6.5 236 3.5 294 6.5 295 6.5 739
7.0 223 7.0 255 4.0 302 7.0 318 7.0 795
7.5 239 7.5 273 4.5 305 7.5 341 7.5 852
8.0 254 8.0 291 5.0 307 8.0 364 8.0 909
8.5 270 8.5 309 5.5 305 8.5 386 8.5 966
9.0 286 9.0 327 6.0 300 9.0 409 9.0 1023
9.5 302 9.5 345 6.5 298 9.5 432 9.5 1080
10.0 318 10.0 364 7.0 299 10.0 455 10.0 1136
10.5 334 10.5 382 7.5 303 10.5 477 10.5 1193
11.0 350 11.0 400 8.0 312 11.0 500 11.0 1250
11.5 366 11.5 418 8.5 324 11.5 523 11.5 1307
12.0 382 12.0 436 9.0 343 12.0 545 12.0 1364

If your cat is not within the weights listed, then you can figure out the calorific requirement yourself- adult cats are fed 70 to 80 kcalories per kilogram of body weight. Your cat’s weight in kilograms is the weight in pounds divided by 2.2 (weight/2.2= weight in kilograms). Active cats and cats living outside are fed the greater amount, while your stereotypical, lazy house cats are fed the lesser amount. If you are unsure, or want to confirm that your calculations are correct, please call your local veterinarian and ask them- they will gladly tell you your cats’ daily requirements.

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Once you have determined your cat’s needs, you need to determine how much of your homemade food you need to give your cat. As an example, we will use the calorie content in this recipe.

Chicken Diet Recipe

  • 1/2 pound (weight before cooking) chicken (boneless breast) (228 grams)
  • 1/2 egg, large, chicken, whole, cooked
  • 1/2 ounce clams, chopped in juice (15 grams)
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable (canola) oil (20 grams)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt substitute-potassium chloride
  • 1/3 teaspoon bone meal powder (2 grams)
  • 1 multiple vitamin-mineral tablet

These quantities provide 471 kcalories, 53.1 g protein, 27.4 g fat.

Let’s say you have a healthy, 10 pound indoor-only cat. The recipe provides 471 calories. According to the chart above, our cat needs 318 calories per day. 318 calories is roughly 68% of 471, meaning you would need to feed 68% of the recipe provided per day to meet our cat’s caloric needs. If you are not mathematically inclined, or you just want to be sure that your calculations are correct, please consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. No matter what recipe you choose, it must list the calories that the recipe provides.

If there are no calories listed, then you have no idea how much food to feed your cat, and you could wind up feeding either too little or too much.

Now, you may be wondering when you will have time to make food for your cat. The easiest way to do this is to make it in bulk and freeze it. You can make anywhere from a week to a months’ worth of food in advance and freeze it in individual portions, take the days meals out the night before to defrost in your refrigerator and you are good to go!

Making your cat food from scratch may seem difficult at first, but once you get over the hurdle of figuring out your cat’s caloric intake, and how much of your recipe to feed, it’s really quite simple!

Please never be afraid to ask for help- if you have any questions or concerns regarding your cat’s diet, please call your veterinarian. They should be more than willing to help you make sure you are feeding your cat a well-balanced diet.

The recipe above was also sourced from the book Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative written by Dr. Donald Strombeck, DVM. If you would like to learn more about feline diet and nutrition I highly recommend this book.

Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative
Donald R. Strombeck - Wiley-Blackwell - Edition no. 1st (01/15/1999) - Paperback: 366 pages
$22.96

(If you are able to find the first edition, I highly recommend it over the second edition.)

Please remember that any changes to the recipe will result in a change in the calories, protein, vitamins, and mineral content of the diet. This recipe is intended for healthy, adult cats. If your cat is elderly or has specific restrictions such as food allergies, kidney disease, diabetes, etc., please consult with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist before changing your cat’s diet.

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Products to Help You Make Your Own Cat Food

Now Foods Bone Strength Capsules

Bone Meal Powder is full of Calcium and Phosphorus that cats can easily absorb and grow their bones stronger. This product also contains Magnesium and other vitamins.

NOW Bone Strength,240 Capsules
89 Reviews
NOW Bone Strength,240 Capsules
  • Supports Bone Health
  • Serving Size: 4 Capsules
  • Servings Per Container: 60

Morton Salt Substitute

Reduce the amount of salt your cat takes in (and you can use it too!) with this great-tasting alternative.

Daily Multivitamin Tablets for Cats

In case you think your cat might not be getting everything it needs from your cooking, boost their intake of vital vitamins and minerals with this product. It has over 20 nutrients that cats need and will fill the gap between what it’s eating and what it should be eating. One less thing to worry about!

Pet Naturals of Vermont - Daily Multi for Cats, Multivitamin Formula, 60 Chewable Tablets
53 Reviews
Pet Naturals of Vermont - Daily Multi for Cats, Multivitamin Formula, 60 Chewable Tablets
  • Our multivitamin is formulated by veterinarians and includes over 20 nutrients important to cat health
  • Daily Multi includes taurine an essential amino acid in cats to support proper digestion, cardiac and immune system health and eye function
  • Daily Multi helps fill nutritional gaps found in some commercial pet foods

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How to Make Homemade Cat Treats

Oh, the things we cat lovers will do for our cats. Yes, some may say you are crazy for doing so, but baking treats for your kitty is extremely easy, inexpensive, and fun activity!

Making your cat treats is good for you and your cat- good for your cat because they have no fillers, gluten meal and other unpronounceable ingredients that are no good for them. And good for you because you’ll know exactly what goes into them, and it will cost a lot less than store bought treats. Your kitty will be super thankful that you took the time to make such tasty treats for them!

Make sure you use human-grade ingredients, and try to use organic products whenever you can. Please note that if you have a finicky feline you may need to try multiple recipes before you find the one your cat loves. Once you find your cat’s favorite treat, you can make large batches and freeze the excess.

Below are 3 recipes to get your started- please note that these are just treats to be given occasionally, and not to be given as a full diet. Happy baking!

Cheesy Chicken Treats

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. softened margarine
  • 1 tbsp. parsley
  • 1tbsp. catnip
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In bowl, mix chicken, shredded cheddar cheese, margarine, & chicken broth. Then mix in the flour, parsley & catnip. Knead dough into ball (add a touch more broth, if needed). Roll out dough ¼” thick and cut into ¼” pieces. Coat all the pieces with parmesan cheese, if using. Put on foil-lined baking sheet (or use a Silpat non-stick baking mat) and bake for 8 minutes or until crispy. Cool completely before serving.

Liver Cat Treats

  • ½ cup of chicken livers (fully cooked)
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 ¼ cup of whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup of mashed (cooked) carrots
  • 1 tablespoon of margarine

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the flour and margarine in a bowl, blend the livers and water, then add to the mixture. Roll into balls and cut into small pieces. Bake for about 12 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Let cool completely before serving.

Homemade Tuna Crackers

  • 6 ounces of undrained tuna
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into treat sized pieces. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.

For Kitties with Dietary Concerns

Does your cat follow a special diet? If so then there is no need to fret- just because your kitty has special needs doesn’t mean that you can’t make your kitty his or her own homemade cat treats! An easy way to do so is to use their canned food.

  • To make bite sized treats, slide the food from the can in one piece (easiest way- use your can opener on both ends of the can, and push the food out from one end out the other side).
  • Next, cut into 1/4-inch slices using a sharp knife, then cut each slice into bite sized pieces.
  • Lay the pieces about 1/2-inch apart on a cookie sheet, and then bake at 325 degrees in the oven until crispy.
  • Let cool completely before serving.

They will be good for a week or two in an air-tight container stored in the refrigerator or for two to three months in the freezer.We hope you love these homemade cat treats!

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We hope you enjoyed this article about how to make cat food, if you are not planning to make your own cat food you can check out some of our other cat food articles on the site.

Last update on 2018-04-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API