Pet owners have been duped by the billion-dollar pet food, well-intentioned veterinarians, and advertising disguised as educational content.
There is nothing commercial pet food provides that you can’t make in your own kitchen other than a high price markup, depressingly inferior ingredients, disease-causing fillers, and a fancy label.
Here’s an easy, cheap way to get cats the nutrients they need. Like so much in human nutrition, feeding cats is actually very simple once you take out the dogma. See the 2 rules for feeding cats below, and when you follow those rules, you’re on your way to good pet health at a fraction of the price.
Take a look at the bigger picture (how cats eat in the wild) and stop trying to apply human nutrition myths to our pets, your pet will get the food it needs to live a long healthy life.
Raw rules food for Cats
There are two main rules for feeding cats. When you follow these, you’re working with the cat’s natural nutritional patterns.
- Feed your cat nose-to-tail animals that are smaller than they are (what they could realistically catch in the wild). This includes bones, muscles, and organs – especially the heart.
- If your food is not fresh and raw, supplement with the essential (for cats) amino acid taurine. (source)
Raw Food for Kidney Disease
Cats that have been raised on commercial food with its dead, dry, nutritionally inferior ingredients are susceptible to kidney disease. Once kidney disease has started, it is a progressive disease and the #1 reason for housecat mortality other than trauma. (source)
To help cats that have already started this process have the highest quality of life they can, and slow the progression as much as possible, a raw food diet that is loaded with nutrients but low in phosphorus is key. (source)
My Experience Feeding Raw Food to Pets
Bob the cat came into my life a year ago as a 14-year-old Maine Coon. He had some health issues the year before, prompting an overnight vet stay, myriad of tests, and no answers. Bob’s health had mostly recovered, to the point that his owner and vet weren’t overly concerned. But still, he wasn’t thriving.
Last spring he started having health issues again, with frequent indoor accidents, ‘drunk’ behavior, weight loss, lethargy, and excessive thirst. This time he was diagnosed with hyperthyroid and early-stage kidney disease. He was sent home with medication to tone down his thyroid dysfunction and special ‘kidney care’ cat food.
Trying raw cat food for kidney disease
Bob got better on the special food and thyroid medication, but still wasn’t great. And the cost was ridiculous, costing over $100/month to feed and medicate this 15-pound cat.
I had success a decade earlier feeding my dog raw food, with his weird skin condition clearing up, as well as his digestive upset. Still, I knew feeding cats was different than feeding dogs so I wanted to make sure I didn’t mess up the cat.
The internet provides dozens of different options for cat food, with some containing ingredients I know the cat doesn’t eat (psyllium husk or brown rice? No thank you! The cat is a carnivore, thankyouverymuch) to commercially available raw food at a hefty price to cooked recipes using vegetables.
Finally, I found a facebook group that seemed to know what they were talking about and had a recipe that included ingredients that made sense to me for the cat.
This recipe, combined with Bob’s love for salmon, and the phosphate limit that the vet recommended, has been the winning ticket for returning Bob to good health with a food that is easy on the budget (about $10 per month!).
And becoming his personal chef totally won over the cat, who was rumored to ‘hate everyone’ other than his owner before I came along. I’m still not really a cat person, but I like this one ❤️
Raw Food Recipe for Cats with Kidney Disease
Ingredients notes: You can find the organ meats at US Wellness Meats (here). It looks expensive at first, but 100 g of liver, kidney, etc is a super small amount so one purchase from US Wellness will probably last you for an entire year! Just add in easy-to-find ground beef and you’re good to go!
Put the unused portion of the organ meats back in the freezer for later. I don’t completely thaw them, I just thaw the organ meats enough that I can cut a chunk off.
The heart has to be chicken (or other small animal) heart or you must supplement with taurine. The kidney can be any kind of kidney. Don’t add more liver than recommended, due to vitamin A toxicity potential on a diet higher in liver. Remember, we’re trying to replicate what the cat would eat in the wild from their catches- a combination of majority muscle meat with a little organ meat as well.
Directions notes: Watch the first video to see how easy this cat food is to make!
Beef and Salmon-Based Raw Kidney Care Cat Food Recipe
This is Bob's favorite cat food, which we're using for kidney care. If your cat is not diagnosed with kidney disease, it is encouraged to use bones in place of the egg shell.
- 50 grams chicken liver
- 50 grams beef kidney
- 2 cups water more as needed to puree
- 6 grams ground egg shell save your egg shells, bake at 350* for 15 minutes, and then crush with a mortar and pestle.
- 1 whole raw egg
- 100 grams chicken heart
- 700 grams ground beef 70/30
- 100 grams raw salmon bones removed
- 14 g sardine or salmon oil
This works best to puree all the organ meats (heart, kidney, etc) into the water, and then pulse this mixture into the ground beef. If you have a Vitamix this should work just fine (just pulse and allow to rest if it sounds like it's over working). If you have a regular blender, I would mix the water/organ mixture and the ground beef by hand or with a stand mixer instead.
Divide out into containers and thaw 2-3 days' worth at a time.
Phosphorus calculations, aiming for less than 100 mg phosphorus per 100 calories:
Is this recipe enough taurine? I wasn’t sure, since taurine in the chicken heart may degrade when it’s frozen, and my chicken hearts come frozen. Since taurine is so essential to cats, I sprinkle powdered taurine, 1 pinch, on each container of his food (2 days’ worth).
Ingredient Nutrition notes:
50 grams chicken liver Per 50 g: 63 calories, 21 calories from fat, 31 calories from protein, 294 mcg folate, .9 mg riboflavin, 0.85 mg niacin, 8.3 mcg B12, 84 mg choline, 148.5 mg phosphorus
https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/poultry-products/666/250 grams beef kidney Per 50 g: 51 calories, 13.5 g fat, 37 g protein, 46 mcg folate, 1.4 mg riboflavin, 4 mg niacin, 13.5 mcg B12, 128.5 mg phosphorus
6 grams ground eggshell – typically cats get calcium from the bones in meat in a raw diet, but in the case of kidney disease, we want to limit the phosphorus in their diet. Bone is made up of quite a bit of phosphorus so we use egg shell in its place.
Per 6 g 5400 mg calcium, 50.4 mg phosphorus
1 whole raw egg 71 calories, 44 calories from fat, 25 calories from protein 95.5 mg phosphorus
100 grams chicken heart 153 calories, 84 calories from fat, 66 calories from protein 177 mg phosphous
800 grams ground beef 70% protein/30% fat (can replace 100 g with egg white) Per 100 g 362 calories 271 calories from fat 61 calories from protein 132 mg phosphorus
85/15 per 100 g 215 calories, 135 c from fat, 79 calories from protein, 171 mg phospherous
100 grams salmon, wild caught
1 tablespoon sardine oil for omega 3 fatty acids if not using salmon (do not use cod liver oil, it is too high in vitamin A when combined with the chicken liver)
Our experience feeding Bob Raw Cat Food:
Raw Food to keep Cats Healthy
Cats that don’t have a phosphorus restriction due to kidney disease should have small bones they can eat (like in small fish) on their own, or some ground up bone in their food to provide calcium and phosphorus in place of the ground up egg shell.
Otherwise, the nutrition is about the same! Use the comments below to tell me about your cat’s raw food diet! Do you make your own food for them? Have you bought raw food before?