Your Cat Needs Store-Bought Food

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There are good reasons why cat people might be more entrepreneurial, but any pet-lover can take things too far. This includes feline fanciers who feed their favorites homemade meals. The intention is nothing but good, yet veterinarians caution that the DIY solution probably isn't as healthy as you'd hope.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have just released a study breaking down the nutritional value of more than 100 home recipes for cat food, available online and in books and devised both by veterinarians and amateurs. Out of 114 recipes, none "provided all the essential nutrients to meet the National Research Council's recommended allowances for adult cats," according to lead author Jennifer Larsen.

Not every problematic recipe stemmed from trends like vegan diets for carnivorous pets. Whether it's ethical or not to feed a domesticated carnivore a non-meat diet, the science comes down on the side of whatever provides the animal with absorbable nutrients. Even adding supplements to a homemade diet, plant-based or otherwise, doesn't guarantee that your pet is getting everything it needs to function.

Other DIY pet foods need to stay aware of how an animal's digestive system differs from ours. For instance, the UC Davis study found numerous recipes that called for ingredients that are toxic to cats, including garlic, onions, and leeks. It's important not to impugn these pet owners' motivations — a not-insignificant number are responding to fears of contaminations and recalls from commercial pet foods. However, if you're going to create a raw menu or a house-made kibble for your pet, do so in close consultation with a veterinarian. In this case, a medical degree is far more trustworthy than an online printout.