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Expert Q&A

You might be tempted to feed your cat homemade food to save a little bit of money … but is it safe?

You might be tempted to feed your cat homemade food to save a little bit of money … but is it safe?

BY: Cheryl Lock

Q: Can I Feed my Cat Homemade Food?

A: The short answer is yes, says Oscar E. Chavez, DVM, MBA, Member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition, but the more accurate answer is: I don’t know … can you?

That’s because while it’s possible to feed your cat homemade food, it’s not actually easy. “Fewer reputable options exist to guide pet owners for cats than they do for dogs, and if you get it wrong, the result can be deadly,” says the vet.

In fact, in the late 1980s it was discovered that a lot of domestic cats were contracting a condition called Dilated Cardiomyopthy (or heart disease) because of a deficiency in their diets of an Amino Acid called Taurine. “Since then, commercial diets have supplemented all cat foods with Taurine, and the illness has all but disappeared,” said Dr. Chavez. “This is just one example of what can go wrong if you get the diet wrong.”

Something else to keep in mind: cats are what’s referred to as ‘obligate carnivores’ – meaning meat is a necessity to keep them healthy. “They must eat meat, no exceptions,” said Dr. Chavez. “So forget about a vegetarian or vegan diet for them!”

For all of those reasons, Dr. Chavez strongly recommends working very closely with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist before switching your cat to a homemade diet … or just skipping it altogether. 

Cheryl Lock is an editor at Studio One. Her work has appeared online at Petside and Pet360, as well as in print in publications like Parents, Family Circle and Runner’s World. She lives in New York with her adorable rescue cat, Penny, and a rabbit named Nugget.

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