DAVIS, Calif. — Concocting your own homemade cat food might save you money and give your beloved feline a delicious meal, but you may actually be doing more harm than good it turns out. A study by researchers at the University of California, Davis reveals serious health risks when it comes to making your cat food from scratch.
Researchers examined 114 cat food recipes found online and in books, and found that many fail to include the right ingredients that provide cats with all the nutrients they need. They also found some of the recipes, which included ones written by veterinarians, may lead to accidental poisonings.
Interestingly, 40% of the recipes didn’t provide any feeding instructions, a crucial bit of information when making cat food at home. The 60% that did provide instructions were unclear or lacked detail, the authors say.
“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,” says lead author Jennifer Larsen, a veterinary nutritionist with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, in a statement.
While recipes written by veterinarians had fewer nutritional deficiencies than others, all of them still had some issues, with most lacking in concentrations of three or more nutrients. Some lacked adequate amounts of as many as 19 essential nutrients or more. Other had less than 50% of the recommended daily value of several essential cat food ingredients like choline, iron, zinc, thiamin, vitamin E, and manganese. Whether feeding cats using these recipes would harm them depends on feeding instructions, among other things, which are largely absent or insufficient.
Though only 7% of the recipes included foods deemed toxic for cats, the finding brings light to the lack of awareness of these dangerous ingredients, including garlic or garlic powder, onions, and leeks. Others didn’t warn of ingredients such as raw animal products, which can cause bacterial infections, or ground animal bones, which can lead to gastrointestinal tears.
“Homemade diets are not necessarily better,” says 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.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.