There are a number of reasons for making dry kibble for your kitty at home. The crunchy texture will help keep his teeth healthy and, since you'll be in charge of what goes into the food, you'll be aware of every single ingredient. There's no danger of your homemade dry cat food being recalled, and it can be surprisingly affordable.
Feline Nutritional Needs
Cats have unique nutritional requirements that need to be considered if you're going to make your own kitty chow at home. For example, cats need more protein than other animals for cell and tissue regeneration, healthy organs and hormone and antibody production. Homemade kibble should include a significant amount of protein from animal sources such as eggs, fish and other meat. Fats and carbohydrates provide energy and are essential for hormone production and brain and digestive function. These three elements should be in all cat food, but in different amounts depending on the cat's age. Kittens need three times the energy that an adult cat needs, and senior cats require less. In his article for CatChannel.com, Cornell University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Francis A. Kallfelz explains that food for older cats has lower energy density to keep senior kitties from packing on the pounds.
Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements
The ingredients that go into making homemade dry cat food contain the essential nutrients that your cat needs, so it shouldn't be necessary to supplement the kibble you make with additional vitamins and minerals. One exception is the amino acid taurine. Cats need a significant amount of taurine to maintain eye health and prevent heart disease, so some recipes for homemade cat food include the addition of powdered taurine among the ingredients.
Benefits of Homemade
The upside to making your cat's kibble at home is that you control the quality of ingredients that you put in, and you can keep out undesirable ingredients such as artificial colors and flavors. Additionally, by buying ingredients on sale, you can feed your kitty a high-quality cat food for less money than you'd pay for a comparable commercial brand kibble.
Homemade Kibble Drawbacks
The time factor and shelf-life are the cons that Wendy Nan Rees and Kevin Schlanger list in their book "The Natural Pet Food Cookbook." Kibble has to be dried thoroughly to optimize the flavor and help it stay fresh for as long as possible. The best method is to turn the oven off after baking and let it sit inside overnight. Also, while a bag of kibble can be good for months even after it's been opened, homemade dry cat food is only good for a week when stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Freezing in a vacuum-sealed bag will increase the shelf-life to three months, but that means you'll still be baking up a batch of kitty kibble fairly frequently.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Nutrients Your Cat Needs
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Feeding Older Cats
- University of California, Davis Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition and Nutritional Disorders
- Web MD: Feeding Kittens: What, When, How Much?
- The Natural Pet Food Cookbook; Wendy Nan Rees, Kevin Schlanger
- CatChannel.com: Feeding Your Senior Cat
- Web MD: Homemade Cat Food and Raw Cat Food
- Hill's: Protein and Your Cat's Special Needs