Just like humans, cats can experience food intolerances or allergies. These can cause itchy skin, ear infections, intestinal problems and other health issues. Making hypoallergenic food for your cat helps identify problem-causing foods, pinpoint food sensitivities and avoid bad reactions.
Certain foods carry a higher risk of reaction, and shouldn't be part of your homemade cat food. These include grains like wheat and corn, along with additives, chemicals and moldy foods. Unfortunately, these are commonplace in many commercial pet foods, so using natural, home-cooked items like fresh meats and healthy oils is a big step in cleaning up your cat's diet. These foods will form the base of your cat's new and improved homemade diet.
Temporarily eliminating all but one or two ingredients helps determine offending foods. This allows your cat's body clear itself, and lets you learn which foods he can tolerate. Reduce your cat's current food over a few weeks, while simultaneously replacing with one meat. Cook an ounce or two of meat at a time, cut into bite-sized pieces, cool and serve. Starting with small amounts avoids waste and accounts for the possibility that your cat may not like a particular meat.
Once you've eliminated the current food and succeeded with one protein, branch out a bit. Add a second protein, using the same small-serving approach. Experiment with this for another week or two, watching your cat's reactions. If he progresses, add small servings of different meats like poultry, fish, rabbit or venison, along with wild salmon oil or other fish oils, a drop or two at a time. Add one new ingredient at a time so you can monitor your fur kid.
How Much to Feed
Cats' diets should be about 80 percent protein, and the rest from fat. Meats have built-in fats; adding healthy oils boosts immunity and offers essential fatty acids. Cats need 200-400 calories per day, but this varies, so cross check with your vet. Depending on the meat you're serving, this may mean one or several ounces a day. Check nutrition labels, then have fun baking, sauteeing, stewing and serving your way back to a healthy kitty.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.