Chris Kouwenhoven

Preparing food for your cat

The following recipes are extracted from D.S. Kronfeld, 1986. Therapeutic diets for dogs and cats including a simple system of recipes. Tijdschrift voor diergeneeskunde 111 (suppl. 1) 37s-41s.

Basic recipe for cat maintenance diet

* 70 g dry white rice (1/3 c)
* 140 g 80% lean hamburger (2/3 c)
* 30g beef liver (1/8 c)
* 11 g bone meal (1 tbsp)
* 5 g corn oil (2 tsp)
* 2 g iodized salt (1/2 tsp)

Combine rice, 2/3 c water, bone meal, salt, and corn oil. Simmer about 20 min. Add meat and beef liver; simmer for 10 minutes. Cool before serving. Can be frozen or refrigerated for several days.

Yield: 800 kcal metabolizable energy; 30% protein, %ME. (1.3% calcium, 1.1% phosphorus, 0.5% potassium, 0.45% sodium, 0.15% magnesium, calculated on a dry matter basis)

Cats at risk of fus

Replace bone meal with 3 g (2 tsp) calcium carbonate or 1/2 tsp ground limestone (NOT dolomite, which is rich in Mg). This lowers calcium from 1.3% to 0.7%, phosphorus from 1.1 to 0.3%, magnesium from 0.15% to 0.08%. Calcium carbonate or limestone does not blend well; you may prefer to give this in pill or capsule form. Salt can be increased to 1 tsp to promote water intake, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ammonium chloride can be added as a urinary acidifier.

Kidney disease patients

Substitute 40-50% fat hamburger (50-60% lean) for regular hamburger to lower protein content to 13%. For a protein content of 11%, substitute 1 medium-large egg (55g) and 1 Tbsp chicken fat (15 g) for meat. Animals in renal failure are anorexic, and maintaining adequate calorie intake may be one of the most important things in their therapy.

Heart failure

Without salt, the "regular recipe" has 0.05% sodium (compares to 0.03% in special canned "heart diets" and 0.05% in the dry form). These levels are suitable for animals in end-stage heart failure; for 1st and 2nd stage chronic heart failure, 0.25% sodium is recommended (use 1/4 tsp salt in the basic recipe instead of 1/2 tsp). Or use 1/2 tsp "lite salt" (50-50 sodium chloride and potassium chloride) to reduce  sodium to 0.25% and raise potassium from 0.5% to 0.7%. This may be desirable if a potassium-robbing diuretic is being used, and especially if digitalis is also prescribed, since digitalis is more toxic in animals low in potassium. If salt is entirely left out of the diet, 1/4 tsp potassium chloride may be included to keep the animal from becoming potassium deficient.

Low fat diet

For non-specific gastrointestinal problems, malabsorption, osmotic diarrhea, pancreatitis, hepatic lipidosis, lymphangiectasis, and portocaval shunts.

To reduce fat levels, substitute one of the following for the 70 g (2.5 oz)of 80% lean hamburger:

100 g (3.5 oz) 90% lean meat 10% fat
120 g (4.3 oz) egg 12% fat
180 g (6.3 oz) heart 4% fat
230 g (8.2 oz) cottage cheese 1% fat
400 g (14.4 oz) egg white, COOKED 0% fat

Substitute 1 tsp safflower oil for 2 tsp corn oil. In extreme cases, reduce safflower oil to 1/2 tsp., or substitute MCT (medium chain triglyceride)

Low fat, high fiber diet

For geriatric animals, chronic enteritis or pancreatitis.

* 1/2 c dry white rice
* 1/3 c 90% lean hamburger
* 1/3 c wheat bran
* 2 Tbsp beef liver
* 1 Tbsp bone meal
* 2 tsp corn oil
* 1/2 tsp iodized salt

(this diet has only 700 calories, compared to 800 for the basal diet).

If the bran is too irritating to the intestines, replace all or part of the bran with alpha cellulose (e.g. Solka Floc, from Brown & Co, Berlin, New Hampshire, USA). This will greatly decrease the available calories also.

Reducing diet

* 1/3 c dry white rice
* 1/3 c 90% lean hamburger
* 2/3 c wheat bran
* 2 Tbsp beef liver
* 1 Tbsp bone meal
* 2 tsp corn oil
* 1/2 tsp iodized salt

This diet has only 600 cal compared to 800 calories of the basal diet.

Hypoallergenic diet

Substitute hamburger, ground mutton or lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, or fish for the meat that had been normally consumed. Substitute chicken or turkey liver for beef liver.

Low purine diet

Substitute a comprehensive trace mineral and vitamin tablet that contains vitamin B-12 for liver in base diet. Replace meat with 1 or 2 eggs blended in 1/4 to 1/2 c cows milk. Carrots or tomatoes can be blended in. This may reduce protein content, but increase acceptance. Do not add other vegetables.

Kay's comments:

I tried the recipes above on my 6 cats (not picky eaters!) They eagerly accepted the basic diet, but were not especially fond of the reducing diet... adding a tsp of instant minced onion seemed to improve the acceptance, as did a little catnip mixed in.

Most cats should do well with the basic diet. If you make major changes (such as the low fat or reducing versions), you may also want to make up some basic diet and gradually shift the cat from basic to special diet.

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