Maybe we should re-think our cat-feeding strategies....
The trend in homemade pet food began several years ago when pet food made in China was found to contain harmful materials. But pet food made here in the U.S. is now recalled regularly for a variety of violations in the way the food is sourced, unsafe ingredients, or unsafe processing. For these reasons, many pet parents have decided to take control of their pets' diets by making pet food in their kitchens using recipes published in print or online.
But a recent University of California, Davis (UCD) study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) looked at 114 published homemade cat food recipes and found all were deficient in nutritional ingredients. Only five recipes stood out as being deficient in only one nutritional ingredient.
The UCD study recipes were published online and in print and were written by veterinarians and non-veterinarians. Forty percent of the recipes didn't even provide feeding instructions and only 94 recipes provided enough information for computer nutritional analysis. "Of those," reported the lead author, "none of them provided all the essential nutrients to meet the National Research Council’s recommended allowances for adult cats.” Dr. Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD, DACVN, is a UCD veterinary professor and veterinary nutritionist, and was the lead author of this study.
Some of the recipes in the study had severe deficiencies, "offering less than 50% of the recommended amount of several essential nutrients, including choline, iron, zinc, thiamin, vitamin E and manganese." Some were severely deficient in three or more essential nutrients. Others even contained foods that are known to be toxic to cats like garlic, onions, and leeks. Eeeks!
Dr. Larsen doesn't believe that cat owners should be fearful of commercial diets any more, but recommends that if you want to have closer supervision over your cat's food, you should make sure your recipes come from a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. Here is a directory from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) to assist you in finding a local ACVN veterinarian.