There is one important tip I can give you about cooking for your pet – Don’t do it. Not unless you want your pet to end up suffering from serious deficiencies that may be irreversible, resulting in, and I’m not exaggerating here, death.
Unless of course, you happen to really know what you are doing, like Shasha’s and Anya’s breeder, someone I turn to for advice all the time, and you know the degree of doneness that’s required for the food and the amount and type of natural supplements you can use, and which brands are reliable, and which ones contain stuff sourced from China (most brands), how too much of this or that would end up in a shit fest and so on and you’ll realise all this cooking business requires just as much science as formulating a raw diet.
I’ve looked at so many homemade diets consisting of boiled chicken breast and some rice and veg, or maybe grilled salmon with carrots and peas and the likes. Guess what. They are all severely nutritionally deficient.
Doubters can refer to Pottenger’s study. Pottenger was a doctor who conducted an experiment over ten years on 900 cats to determine the effects of cooked food and its impact on cat’s health vs the effects of a raw food diet. The group fed on cooked food all developed physical and emotional problems which did not occur in those eating the raw meats. Also, the cooked diet cats never even got past the 3rd generation, as they lost fertility and the ability to reproduce.
For those of you who like more details, basically, the cats fed on cooked meals had meat scraps which included internal organ meats and bones, along with some additional milk and cod liver oil, basically a much healthier diet compared to what most novice home cooks for pets were whipping up. But they were dropping dead faster than you could say ‘Puss in Boots’. Meanwhile, the group fed on raw meats, bones, offals and raw milk appeared in better shape, with healthier offspring. Pottenger came to the theory that ‘heat-label’ factors were rendering the food nutritionally deficient, causing eventual physiological degeneration.
By the end of first generation the cats on cooked diet:
started to develop degenerative diseases
became less active
By the end of the second generation:
developed degenerative diseases
experienced evident changes in skeletal structure
calcium content in bones had fallen to 10%
At 16 weeks of age, the second generation raw food kittens weighed 2000 grams on average, while the second generation kittens on cooked-meat averaged on 1600grams.
By the 3rd generation, the cooked meat subjects had developed degenerative diseases very early in life and some were born blind and weak with a much shorter life span. Many of the third generation couldn’t reproduce. Even when the adults displayed interest in mating, they often produced stillborn litters. Kittens of the third generation did not survive six months.
All cats died out totally by the fourth generation. Also, skin diseases and allergies increased from 5 percent in normal cats to over 90 percent in the 3rd generation of deficient animals. So if you wonder about your cat’s allergy problems, well….
The fur of the deficient cats lost its sheen and shedding was more pronounced. Males were docile while females became more aggressive. Skulls were smaller, flat with pointed features and the bones were paper thin and soft like sponge rubber. Calcium content of the bone had fallen to 3 percent.
Meanwhile, the raw meat and milk subjects continued to mate like lusty sex fiends, moving about with great coordination and, umm, cat-like agility and landing on their feet when thrown in the air, though I wasn’t sure what kind of sick doctor it took to be throwing cats into the air.
Back to the first group, other than arthritis, skeletal changes, lethargy, dental deterioration, abscesses and lessened reproductive efficiency, the cats were not landing properly when thrown a short distance (!!!) They also developed heavier fat deposits and were nervous animals showing extreme irritability and often paced back and forth in their pens.
Source of study: https://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-who-were-pottengers-cats-and-do-they-matter
How about home prepared RAW food?
In my opinion, that could potentially provide your pet with one of the best dietary options that include variety and proper nutrition, while fostering greater relations between you and your pet.
It’s not easy, but it’s not exactly rocket science either. NRC and AAFCO requirements serve as useful references readily online. And not to complicate matters, we have also included these nutrients vital for health and longevity that should not be missing from a raw diet:
Of course the fear would be present that you would not be able to provide all these nutrients. And yes, it is a sensible fear. After all, your pet’s health is relying on your knowledge, efforts and meal prep. Don’t ever wing it though. There’s always the thought that ‘balance over time’ will be achieved if we give variety but ‘balance over time’ would only occur through a nutrition plan that purposefully and strategically provides differing combinations of foods and ingredients from day to day in order to yield varying amounts of essential nutrients. A ratio guideline like 80/10/10 is not a proper nutrition plan and will result in deficiencies, toxicities, and other medical conditions in almost every single case.
And there is more for those of you who are ready to dive into the exciting adventure of preparing raw food for your pet, and by this we mean a lot of reading. But take these tips too. Variety is very important. Do not keep to only one or two proteins. Different meats have different amino acids profiles and they will provide much better balance for your pet. You cannot get diverse enough. Think about diversity in the human context. This is how we achieve balance so where possible, learn to go beyond meats and livers and source for kidneys, brains, pancreas, testes, lungs, hearts, roe, spleens, tripe etc etc. If you are keen on adding plants, cooking will reduce anti-nutrients and increase digestibility. Steaming or boiling them before mashing or pureeing would make them bioavailable. And whatever, you do, don’t feed any grains or legumes… they are not meant to be digested by your pets, nor are they meant to be, by us.