HI folks! DrQ here to encourage into you cooking for four legged family members, which is easy and fun!
It’s a great way to ensure that your beloved animals are getting extra wholesome nutrition, being
protected from possible harmful contaminants, and usually at a lower cost, too. They will love you even
more for it!
First, you might say, “well I don’t even cook for my own family, I am not ready to commit to cooking for
my animals!” . Well I would like to share with you that for me, that was the story of my life. A busy
student, working and going to school for years on end, I had little time to worry about my own nutrition,
much less, take the time to buy a bunch of expensive ingredients and then take the time to learn how to
cook! Then I found a little black cat abandoned at 3 weeks of age with another kitten, presumably her
litter mate. Kittens should stay with their mothers until they are at least 5 weeks old, so these little
kitties were definitely cold, neglected, and without mother’s milk not in good condition to survive.
However, they were lucky enough to get rescued, and received the round the clock care and feeding
they needed to become vibrant kittens ready to eat on their own in a few weeks. When I was finally
able to take her home, she became a surrogate child to me (and looking back, good practice for having
children). I took her everywhere with me, literally, either perched in my pocket or the dashboard of my
truck. I was extremely concerned about her ability to grow up into a healthy adult cat, and in return,
she was a constant source of wonder and love which I was lucky enough to have with me throughout all
the days. So I would not do it for myself, yet I did it for her, so I encouraged her to eat all kinds of things
that I ate (even raw mushrooms out of my salad!). She looked to me as a substitute mother to learn
what to eat, so it was amazing to watch her consume all manner of healthy foods one would not
normally think a cat would like, much less, even attempt to eat. I cooked scrambled eggs and baked
butternut squash, among other things for her, and poured through books on nutrition and feeding to be
sure she had everything she would need. Today I am happy to say she is a healthy (albeit getting cranky
now in her middle age) who not so patiently waits around to inspect what I have concocted on the stove
today, and see if it passes her inspection and taste test! She taught me that like anything new, once you
try it, it’s not as hard as you might have imagined it to be. I am grateful for the lessons she has taught
Consider also the reality that, only by properly caring for yourself, FIRST, are you properly able to care
for anyone else, be it other 2 or 4 legged family members. Who will care for them when you are gone?
With growing rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and other diet related disease devastating the
population in our modern society, more and more people every day are taking a keen interest in what
they are eating. The old adage ‘you are what you eat” is still as true as ever, for us, and our pets.
Perhaps you might not feel like cooking for yourself, however, my greatest hope is that you love your
animals enough to cook for them, and in return, discover that cooking healthy natural foods for your
animals, AND yourself, is quick, easy, and inexpensive. As well as SO much better for you than all the
packaged and processed foods which are so common in the typical diet of our ‘civilized’ culture.
A few notes about home cooking for animals. First of all, don’t stress about it! If you are home cooking
for your pets only once or twice a week, or use a portion of daily home cooked meals to compliment a
100% complete and balanced commercial food, then there is little reason to worry about any nutritional
imbalances. Problems occur primarily when an animal is deprived of certain nutrients for days to weeks
in a row. This is why variety is the spice of life! Mix it up, use a rainbow of colors in your cooking, and
watch your pets shine! You will feel better, and they will too!
It is still recommended that you advise your regular veterinarian of the addition of home made food to
the diet at your next annual checkup. Keep in mind certain things like onions, garlic, and grapes, can be toxic to some animals in large amounts.
Any person or animal can get an upset
stomach when a completely new food is introduced. So remember to make any changes gradually,
adding probiotics can help with the transition, and report any concerns you may have with your
animals’ appetite, digestion, or elimination, right away to your regular veterinarian.
If (and when) you discover that you enjoy cooking for yourself and your animals so much, that you
choose to make it their only diet, have your regular vet review the recipes you want to use, and
remember, they must be served with supplement that will bring the diet into having a balanced Calcium
and Phosphorous ratio. In it’s simplest form you can easily make and add your own calcium eggshell
powder ( 1 tsp = 5 grams calcium), or purchase a supplement such as DrQ’s Completion Powder. There
are many excellent books on the topic, I encourage you to do your own research and strike a balance
that feels comfortable for YOU and your lifestyle.
A few hints and tips:
-Rice and grains can be cooked with more water than you might be used to, such as I part grain to 3.5-5
parts water. Rolled oats can be prepared by putting hot water over the oats and letting them soak for 20
minutes. This will cook into a more gruel-like consistency, and provide more water in the diet. Cats
especially are prone to not getting enough water in the diet which can contribute to kidney disease later
in life. Some experts recommend using only fresh filtered, distilled, or artesian water.
-When choosing a protein source, go organic as much as possible to minimize contaminates. Keep in
mind raw meats, such as rabbit, venison, elk, fish, etc. can contain parasites as well as have bacterial
risks. Protect yourself and your animals accordingly if you choose to feed raw foods.
-Vegetables should be lightly steamed or if raw, finely chopped. Animals with sensitive digestion may
require longer cook times. Examples include: broccoli, cauliflower, squash (all types, my cats love
butternut), sweet and regular potatoes (cooked), canned or baked pumpkin, carrots (regular and
multicolored), sprouts, parsley, peas, zucchini, corn, green beans, and any green leafy vegetables. Keep
in mind that spinach, kale, and other similar dark green vegetables with high oxalate content needs to
be steamed if fed in large amounts frequently due to calcium binding.
-Toppings and spices can be added in appropriate amounts to help encourage finicky eaters into trying
the new diet. Nutritional yeast, with the added bonus of vitamin B12, works great! Other options include
adding a few spoonful’s of organic baby food, a canned version of their regular diet,
peanut/almond/sunflower butter, miso, low sodium tamari, or algae oil.
-At the discretion and direction of your regular veterinarian, supplements such as essential fatty acids
can be added at the rate of 1 teaspoon per 15 pounds of body weight per day. Pre- and pro- biotics are
highly encouraged to support the immune system as well as a digestive aid, at your vets recommended
-A food mill or blender can help to homogenize the food into a more canned food consistency if needed
for finicky eaters. Consider batch cooking several days worth and freezing individual servings to save
time. Warm all meals before serving. Avoid use of the microwave. 2 cups of fresh food is approximately equal to 1 cup of dry food.
Feed animals ½-1 cups of homemade food per each 10# of their IDEAL body weight. Feed for what they
SHOULD weigh, not necessarily what they DO weigh.
There you have it, a guide to getting started on the right track cooking delicious and nutritious foods.
Perhaps you will find yourself like it is at our house, with a blurred distinction between what is
considered ‘pet’ and ‘people’ food. Happy cooking! I am DrQ, here to help YOU, and your animals enjoy
the longest, healthiest, most vibrant life together, that you ever thought possible! Best wishes!