Homemade cat food diets could be risky

homemade cat food diets

One quick Internet search can net hundreds of homemade cat food recipes, but a new US study finds most are unlikely to provide cats all their essential nutrients. Some recipes could also contain ingredients potentially toxic to cats.

The study—by a team at the University of California, Davis, and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association—is thought to be the first to examine homemade recipes for healthy adult cats. 

Researchers evaluated 114 recipes from online sources and books, written by both veterinarians and non-veterinarians. Forty percent of the recipes did not provide any feeding instructions, and the remainder of them lacked detail or were unclear.

“Only 94 recipes provided enough information for computer nutritional analysis and of those, none of them provided all the essential nutrients to meet the National Research Council’s recommended allowances for adult cats,” lead author Jennifer Larsen said. 

Moreover, seven per cent of the recipes called for ingredients that are potentially toxic to cats, such as garlic or garlic powder, onions and leeks. Researchers also found recipes that called for raw animal products without mentioning potential risks of bacterial contamination. 

Larsen said there was a big surge in cat owners switching to homemade cat food recipes after toxic substances were found in commercial pet food imported from China more than a decade ago. Some cat owners choose homemade recipes because they want more control over their cat’s diet. Others believe their cat should have a vegetarian diet, or one with sustainably sourced or organic ingredients. 

“Homemade diets are not necessarily better,” said Larsen. “If you are going to use one, you have to make sure you do it safely and they should be balanced and appropriate for your individual cat.”

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