Homemade Cat Food can be Dangerous: Study

Attention all cat caretakers:  A new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, finds most are unlikely to provide cats all their essential nutrients. Some recipes could also contain ingredients potentially toxic to cats.


The study, 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 non-veterinarians and veterinarians. Forty percent of the recipes did not provide any feeding instructions, and the remainder of them lacked detail or were unclear.

cat eats

Overview of Findings

-Recipes for homemade cat food lacked nutrients regardless of the source or whether they were written by veterinarians. (Those recipes authored by veterinarians had fewer deficiencies in essential nutrients.)

-Most recipes were lacking concentrations of three or more nutrients, with some lacking adequate amounts of up to 19 essential nutrients.

-Many recipes had severe deficiencies, providing less than 50 percent of the recommend allowances of several essential nutrients including choline, iron, zinc, thiamin, vitamin E and manganese.

-Seven percent of the recipes called for ingredients that are potentially toxic to cats, including garlic or garlic powder, onions and leeks.

-Some recipes called for raw animal products without mentioning potential risks of bacterial contamination.

-Some recipes that included bones neglected to mention the importance of grinding them to prevent gastrointestinal tears.


The researchers recommend that cat owners who desire a homemade diet consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. They specialize in formulating homemade diets for pets.


Journal Reference: Sarah A. Wilson, Cecilia Villaverde, Andrea J. Fascetti, Jennifer A. Larsen. Evaluation of the nutritional adequacy of recipes for home-prepared maintenance diets for cats. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2019; 254 (10): 1172.

Overview; Study: DOI: 10.2460/javma.254.10.1172


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