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Homemade Diets for Cats: What You Need to Know!

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Preparing and administering homemade diets to our adorable cats has become a common trend. Preparing homemade diets is a feeding practice that involves feeding your feline with home-based food rather than commercial cat foods.

While this feeding practice is becoming increasingly popular, is it safe and is it helpful to your feline friend? Well, keep scrolling to discover the facts associated with homemade diets for your cat.

Cats are Carnivorous Creatures

Cats are carnivores. They need meat to survive and thrive. So, put vegan diets out of the picture as much as possible. Why? Because unlike humans, who can exploit plants to produce any absent amino acids, cats can't sufficiently digest plant material to live on it. As such, your cat needs a meat-based diet to get the complete and essential amino acids needed for good health.

For instance, taurine and arginine are two essential amino acids found in meat. If they're frequently absent in your cat's diet, it may lead to blindness and severe heart disease. Even if your kitty enjoys plant-based food, ensure you add in taurine or arginine supplements. However, adding these supplements isn't as effective as directly sourcing them from meat.

Remember, the source of protein in your kitty's diet plays a significant role in their health. Your goal is to provide a diet that closely provides the nutritional composition your cat would eat in its natural environment.

Raw vs. Cooked Food

Raw vs. cooked food is a subject of considerable debate among two strongly divided groups of cat owners. The former are concerned about the nutrient loss in the cooking process, while the latter cite the risks of bacteria and parasites in raw food.

Nonetheless, every side has its risks and benefits. Raw food contains bacteria and pathogens that may cause infections to both you and your cat. Whether raw or cooked, bones are known to cause intestinal obstruction or perforation, broken teeth, and mouth injuries. Notably, care should be taken when preparing food, feeding, and cleaning to avoid any possible contamination spread to humans, especially to immune-compromised individuals.

Alternatively, cooking food may damage certain food nutrients. When cooking homemade cat food, be sure to know when to add or mix the ingredients at certain points in the cooking process and whether to fully cook or par cook the food.

Note: Cats with health concerns may also need cooked food supplemented by vet-recommended nutrients.

Pro Tip: Some human foods are toxic to cats, so care must be taken never to add them to your cat's homemade diet.

Ensure that your raw food diet is complete and balanced. Don't assume that meat provides everything needed for good health. Raw and cooked homemade diets should also include taurine and other helpful supplements. Depending on where you source your food, you may need to feed it raw or cook it.

There are many good recipes that have been formulated by vets and nutritionists, consult your vet for a list recommendation.

Watch Out for Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a chronic condition sometimes diagnosed in cats - more so senior cats. It's caused by increased thyroid hormone levels resulting in symptoms including:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • High appetite
  • Poor coat

Certain dietary factors such as low, high, or inconsistent iodine levels have been suggested to cause hyperthyroidism. When feeding a homemade diet, take note of the risks associated with hyperthyroidism. Importantly, keep an eye on the iodine levels in your homemade cat food diet. For example, fish-based diets contain high iodine levels.

Other Key Nutrients for Cats

  • Vitamins such as A, B3, and B1
  • Minerals such as calcium
  • Fiber
  • Water

Pro Tip: Regularly add the proper sources of vitamins and minerals in your cat's homemade diet but on a vet-recommended scale. Excess nutrients can cause serious health implications.

Whether you're already making or considering a homemade diet for your cat, ensure that you thoroughly understand your cat's dietary needs. Depending on your cat's health condition and age, their dietary needs will be different.

If you decide to go the homemade cat food route, talk to your vet to help you develop a complete and balanced homemade diet that truly benefits your cat. Above all, closely monitor your cat for any issues with your homemade diet.

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