Updated May 4, 2017.
Caring for cats is easy. By nature they are very strong, resilient and self-sufficient creatures. Like their untamed counterparts, big cats, for example Tigers, domestic cats require a natural diet to realize superb health.
Felines are an incredibly intelligent species. They know what they need to eat to fulfill their requirements, nutrition or otherwise.
Allowing them to follow their instincts is wise and usually results in optimal health. This includes the freedom to prowl outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight at will, and to hunt and catch their food.
By nature, cats are nocturnal and their special nighttime skill set is part of what keeps them healthy mentally and physically, as does their penchant for sunbathing outdoors.
Cats take good care of themselves; we humans can learn a great deal from them. Their medicines of choice are wonderful herbs, such as couch grass and cat-mint.
All domestic cat owners should make these important herbs freely available; outdoors is highly recommended.
For more information about herbs consult Juliette de Baϊracli Levy’s, The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, or Cats Naturally: Natural Rearing For Healthier Domestic Cats.
In the wild, cats’ general prey is herbivores, preferring wild rabbits, small rodents and birds. They consume the nutrient rich innards and organs, which contain healthy vegetable matter such as nuts, fruit and grains, and they enjoy raw meaty bones. Cats love fresh water and favor running water over stagnant water sources.
A wild diet comes naturally for Dodger, who learned to fend for himself before he was dumped over a highway sound wall into our city yard. That was before we moved to our cabin in the wilderness.
For nine months of the year, spring, summer and autumn, Dodger becomes wild, almost feral in character, living in the forest defending his territory and catching his own food. His favorite cuisine is wild cottontail rabbit; we’re overrun with them!
On our place is a small pond, a landscape water feature the local wildlife and Dodger depend on as a primary water source. We keep this pond is top condition and freshen the water frequently. It doubles as a nice accent in our small garden next to the patio in the backyard.
Dodger supplements his diet, enjoying breakfast, dinner and a bedtime snack with what we freely provide indoors. . . a high quality freeze-dried raw cat food imitating as much as possible a “natural” cat diet, free of chemicals and preservatives.
During the winter months, when prey is more difficult to catch, Dodger’s main feasts consist of the freeze-dried raw cat food we provide him with a dinner of raw flesh meat (he refuses homemade food), supplementing his nutrition with snacks of “wild” catch between storms.
Abby, on the other hand, has chosen to be an indoor cat, cautiously venturing out for short periods of time on mild days to play with insects or to practice the hunting skills Dodger taught her. Sometimes we have to accompany her outdoors and encourage her to sunbath or give her permission to play at being a “Tiger” in the forest. She has no taste for wild prey and refuses organic raw flesh meat and frozen raw cat food. Her preference is freeze-dried raw cat food only with no variety.
Because of her finicky preferences and resistance to change, our responsibility as stewards of Abby’s good health is greater, making good nutrition choices for her even more imperative.
The best pet food made at home is based on raw meats (organic or free-range without added hormones or antibiotics), raw vegetables, raw non-citrus fruits, and vitamin, mineral and oil mix supplements. For optimal health use organic human grade ingredients.
Avoid foods which are known cat allergens, such as pork, beef, tuna, and grains such as corn or wheat. Also avoid vegetables from the nightshade family and those high in oxalic acid, such as rhubarb, Swiss chard and spinach. Lettuce has little nutrition and should not be used, and legumes cause discomfort and gas in felines.
Use recipes with proper nutrition ratios for stages in life. Kittens require ratios of meat and vegetables at 85%:15%, respectively, while adult cats’ needs should be adjusted to 80%:20%.
Recipes for homemade cat food abound on the internet. Enter “cat food recipe” in the search bar of your favorite browser and choose a recipe you think might appeal to your kitty.
Keep in mind your cat’s life-stage, health issues and taste preferences. Strive to make your homemade cat food as nutritionally complete as possible.
Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats features some of the best pet food recipes for cats. Then, add vitamin, mineral and oil mix supplements. You can find recipes for these in The Natural Remedy Book for Dogs & Cats, by Diane Stein.
Sometimes life happens and homemade cat food becomes impractical. Sometimes a cat refuses change, like Abby. Purchasing commercial pet food fills the void.
Choose brands from conscientious suppliers dedicated to producing products that meet the high quality specifications mentioned above for homemade cat food. Choose as close to “wild” as you can get.
For your convenience, I've done some of the research for you. Listed below are the best of my findings. Some manufacturers use questionable ingredient sources and are not included here. Check back occasionally for updates.
After that, it’s a matter of taste. . .
. . . your cat’s taste!
On October 7, 2015, I received a wonderful letter from a visitor who love’s CatsStories.com:
This graphic is so valuable I had to share it with you! (see below)
For more information about the best pet food for cats, reference the accompanying article, From Kittenhood to the Golden Years: What Your Cat Should Eat to Thrive, By Lisa Weeth.