Homemade cat food vs store-bought

Pets are more than just companions; they become a part of the family. And of course you want to be feeding your family, your cat included, the best and healthiest food possible to keep them healthy and satisfied.

This desire to give your cat the best often leads to the following question: should you really be feeding your cat canned, store-bought cat food? Or should you make your cat’s food at home?

There’s no “right” answer here, but we will take you through the pros and cons of each option for you to decide which one is best for you and your cat.

2 Advantages of Homemade Cat Food

1. Homemade cat food tastes better for some cats

Nothing quite beats a home cooked meal, even for pets.

While cats do enjoy their store-bought food, a homemade meal can serve as a special treat for your beloved pet. We all know how much cats like fish, so you could try creating a salmon recipe, a sardine recipe, or even a combination of chicken and tuna.

2. Homemade cat food contains only high-quality ingredients

Another great benefit to making your own cat food is that you know exactly what ingredients are going into the food and what quality those ingredients are.

While store-bought food does list the ingredients, it’s impossible to know the exact quality or origin of the ingredients within it. By making your own food, you can use top of the line meats and veggies to give your cat the best it can get.

3 Disadvantages of Homemade Cat Food

1. It’s time-consuming to prepare a homemade cat food

While there are benefits to making your own cat food, you have to do just that: make it. Instead of going to the store and quickly purchasing some food for your cat, you’ll have to take the time to look up recipes, buy ingredients, and prepare the food.

This might not be a con for everybody. Some people will have more time available to dedicate to making their own cat food, and some people don’t have any extra time at all.

Perhaps you’ll only make it yourself on special occasions, or maybe you’ll have time to do it each day. Think about your schedule and how much time you can dedicate to making your own food before you commit.

2. Homemade cat food is difficult to balance

Just like people, cats require certain amounts of nutrients to be healthy. If you’re going to make your cat’s food, you will need to have an excellent understanding of how the required breakdown of protein, fat, and carbohydrates that a cat needs to be healthy.

These dietary needs can vary based on your cat’s age, breed, activity level, and more.

So while this might not be a con for some people who are already knowledgeable on the subject, for others, it will require research and further knowledge on feline dietary needs.

This is especially important considering there are many things that cats cannot and should not eat.

Some of these things include:

  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Fat trimmings
  • Bones

Any of these things can make your cat incredibly sick, so do not include them in any homemade recipe. The list doesn’t end there, so educating yourself before you start preparing your own cat food is essential for your cat’s health.

This research and education take time, and if you get something wrong, your cat could become sick or malnourished. Be extremely careful if you plan to make homemade cat food for your cat on a regular basis.

3. Homemade cat food is costly

Homemade cat food is expensive. For one, you need to invest time to prepare the ingredients and actually cook it. Depending on which type of store-bought food you are comparing to, home-made food can be expensive if you are cooking in small batches and if you’re using expensive ingredients. Check your cost before choosing which diet to put your cat.

3 Advantages of Commercial Cat Food

1. Commercial cat food is easy to use

As we have mentioned, researching and making pet food at home can be time-consuming. With store-bought food, you can be assured that professionals are formulating the recipes so that your pet is getting all the essential nutrients to stay healthy, without having to research everything on your own.

You can also stroll into any grocery store and purchase this food so easily, unlike if you are cooking the food every day.

This convenience factor is a definite pro to going with store bought food, but again, it will depend on your particular schedule and commitment if making the food yourself would be inconvenient.

2. Various Options

Cats, like people, have varying tastes when it comes to pet food. With the huge variety of flavors in store-bought food, it will be easy to find something that your cat will enjoy.

Besides varying flavors, there is also dry food (also known as kibble), canned “wet” food, and semi-moist food. You will easily have a myriad of options at your disposal when feeding your cat, which would take much more time and energy if you were cooking all of these things yourself.

The different types of cat food not only provide options for your cat, but they also provide options for varying budgets.

Dry food is known for being very economical, which can be a huge pro for people without a lot of extra cash, while canned foods can be slightly more expensive but with potentially more flavor and aroma for finicky cats.

3. It’s cheaper

Depending how you compare it with homemade cat food, store-bought may be even cheaper. Make sure to check the major ingredients and compare the cost if it were made at home. Generally, processed cat food are 15% cheaper than homemade food.

4. Cat feeder compatible

Commercial cat food (as a rule) is tested to be compatible with most of high-quality auto cat feeders. This makes not only preparation but also feeding a hassle-free process!

2 Disadvantages of Store-bought Cat Food

1. It may have side effects

There are some reported side effects of each type of store-bought food, which should be taken into account for each cat that you own.

Dry food (kibble) can potentially cause bladder problems, so if your cat is prone to urinary infections or bladder stones, this could be an issue. And while wet food might more easily entice your cat because of the strong smell and taste, it is not as effective at preventing dental plaque as kibble is.

Many types of store-bought cat food add dyes and fillers to the food, which your cat might not react well to. You will also have to choose a brand without ingredients your cat is allergic to. Keep these ideas and your cat’s health in mind when choosing a store-bought food.

2. It may contain questionable ingredients

Unlike with homemade food, you cannot pick and choose the best ingredients for your cat’s food when you go with store bought. In fact, the more inexpensive the brand, the more likely the ingredients are not top quality.

If you want top quality ingredients, you’ll have to buy more expensive, premium brands of cat food.

Some brands will also have chemicals like BHT, which is a carcinogen, in them, which can be harmful to your pet. Be sure to examine the list of ingredients and research any that you don’t know what they are.

Warning: change of cat food should be gradual. Introduction of new food should take at least one week. Immediate change of food may cause vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach.

  • 1st day to 2nd day: 75% old food , 25% new food
  • 3rd day to 5th day – 50% new food , 50% old food
  • 7th day – 75% new food , 25% old food
  • 8th day onward – 100% new food

Store-bought vs homemade cat food comparison chart

Store-bought cat foodHomemade cat food
Pros1. Commercial cat food is easy to use
2. Various Options
1. Homemade cat food tastes better for some cats
2. Homemade cat food contains only high-quality ingredients
Cons1. It may have side effects
2. It may contain questionable ingredients
1. It’s time-consuming to prepare a homemade cat food
2. Homemade cat food is difficult to balance
3. Homemade cat food is costly
Useful table with comparison of homemade and commercial cat food

Bottom Line

Both store-bought and homemade raw cat food have their pros and cons, and both can have a healthy place in your cat’s diet.

Many people choose to make homemade food for special occasions or a couple of times a week and use store-bought food for the rest of the week. Some people swear by store-bought and some only use homemade.

Whatever you decide, as long as you do your research and feed your cat what it needs to be healthy, you are making the right decision.

If you have any other questions or comments, let us know with a comment below, or contact us!


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