Healthy & Inexpensive Homemade Pet Food

by Ann Marie Michaels on November 30, 2012

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Healthy and Inexpensive Homemade Pet Food @cheeseslave

I have been looking for a good recipe for homemade pet food for a while. The problem with most commercial pet food is that it’s not healthy. And the “healthy” pet food brands you can find at the store are not cheap.

Cats and dogs are carnivores, and really should be eating primarily meat and fish. Cats and dogs should also be eating a good percentage of their food raw, not cooked. Unfortunately, most commercial pet foods are mostly made of grains, which are not good for animals. Not to mention that they contain GMOs, since they are not organic.

This homemade pet food is made with raw organ meats — livers, kidneys, hearts, and lungs from chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, goats, or cows. Organ meat is anywhere from 10-100 times more nutritious than muscle meat, such as chicken breasts and steaks. Organ meats are also very inexpensive.

I typically feed our cats natural dry cat food just because it’s easy and I don’t have time to give them fresh food every day. I feed them this homemade pet food as often as I can. Nutritionally, this recipe really makes up for the rest of the time they are eating dry cat food.

And did I mention that our cats LOVE it? I had tried giving them organ meats before, but they didn’t really like it. With the addition of tasty ingredients such as crème fraîche or canned tuna, they go nuts for this cat food.

Healthy & Inexpensive Homemade Pet Food

Recipe Notes

This recipe is suitable for both cats and dogs. Dogs may take to the organ meats easier than cats, and you may not need to add the fish or sour cream.

Note: This recipe is not for every day and should not be a substitute for pet food all the time. This recipe doesn’t include ALL the nutrients that a dog or cat needs. I am not a pet nutritionist. I was not aiming at a nutritionally complete, well-balanced dog or cat food when I wrote this post. I just wanted to share a pet food that I make for our cats that they love. (See above: I only feed them this every so often and the rest of the time they get dry cat food. And please, no comments about how I shouldn’t feed them dry cat food. I have no time for making cat food every day right now!)

You can find organ meats at most grocery stores, or get them from your local farmer. Organic/grass-fed organ meat is best, but if you can’t find organic, get what you can.

If you add leftover bones from making broth, make sure the bones are very well-cooked. Simmer the chicken broth for at least 12-24 hours and the beef broth for 24-36 hours. The cooked bones should crumble easily to the touch. Do not feed animals undercooked bones. Raw bones are fine, though, if they will eat raw bones. My picky cats won’t touch them.

This homemade pet food can be made ahead and frozen in batches. It will keep for years in the freezer. For freezer storage, ice cube trays work great — when frozen, pop out the cubes and store them in large freezer bags.

You can also make it once a week and store it in a plastic or glass container in the fridge.

Healthy & Inexpensive Homemade Pet Food

Healthy & Inexpensive Homemade Pet Food


Organ meat (liver, kidney, heart, lungs) from chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, goats, or cows — organic if possible where to buy organ meat
Optional: Crème fraîche or sour cream — organic if possible
Optional: Canned tuna, sardines, anchovies, or herring
Optional: Egg yolks, ideally from pastured chickens
Optional: Bones from animals, leftover from making broth


Food processor


1. Grind up the organs in a food processor or using a meat grinder.
2. Add crème fraîche or canned tuna and/or egg yolk. These are the tasty additions that cats and dogs love.
3. If desired, add leftover mashed-up bones from making chicken or beef broth.
4. Mix everything together and store in the fridge in a plastic or glass container, or make bigger batches and store in the freezer.

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Sesasha November 30, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Where does one buy organ meats? Do I have to go to a butcher or can I get them from the grocery store? I just feel like I need more information.


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I usually buy them from a farmer at the farmer’s market, or from the butcher at Whole Foods


Cara November 30, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I love it! I used to feed my dog (my aunt has him now and he’s on commercial food again, with associated health problems) raw chicken, usually drumsticks. Not pastured, but just the cheap stuff from Walmart. I hadn’t thought of organ meats then, that’s a great solution to good nutrition at a low price!

(And Hannah is now pleading her case for a kitty after seeing Kate and Blackberry!)


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Haha oh yes Kate also wants a dog. I told her we have to wait until Blackberry grows up.


Christina B. November 30, 2012 at 3:52 PM

This is interesting and I think that is is great that you are delving into biologically appropriate raw feeding of your animals. I am not sure about this particular recipe as a daily meal, though. I have been feeding my cats raw exclusively for two years and all of my research has led me to believe that they should only receive a grape sized portion of organ meat three times a week at most. It provides cats with essential taurine, but too much can disrupt their digestion. Also, it is really great to give cats strips of meat versus ground meat. I learned this the hard way. After a year of home-ground meat/organs/bones, my cats developed terrible tartar problems. By putting away the meat grinder and feeding them strips of flesh that they have to gnaw into pieces themselves, helping to get the tartar knocked off. They are still recovering from their year of ground but have greatly improved since changing the serving technique. The gnawing on/chewing up bones also helps with tartar while strengthening their jaw. I can’t speak to dogs, but for kitties, we try to mimic their natural diet as much as possible. That includes flesh, organs, bones and even fur if you can get it. Another thing I learned is that cats shouldn’t have fish too often because it can deplete an essential nutrient in their bodies. Making cat food turned out to be a big research project for me because it turned out to be more complex than I ever imagined. A great resource for cat owners is the website called “holisticats.” I highly recommend checking it out. Making your own raw food and freezing portions is FAR cheaper and more nutritious, I agree!


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Hi, Christina

If you read the post, I don’t feed this to them every day. Just occasionally. The rest of the time they get dry food or other meats and fish.

And it is only half to 1/3 organ meats and the rest is leftover bone mash and/or fish.

Our cats are picky and do not like to gnaw on bones.


Christina B. November 30, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Ah, I get it. In that case, lucky kitties for getting such a scrumptious treat!


Cyndi March 1, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Cats and dogs should never eat dry food. Cats will adapt to eating bones given enough time. I feed 80% meats, 10% bones and 10% organ meats. Dry food is no different than people eating highly processed foods. It’s bad for us and them.


Beth November 30, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Christina, thanks for sharing the info about bigger meat strips rather than ground meat for helping with tartar!


Katie November 30, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Do you have any tips on how much of it to feed to both cats and dogs?


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 4:03 PM

@Katie I’m not sure I understand your question. I just let them eat as much as they want but I don’t give this to them every day.


Beth November 30, 2012 at 6:21 PM

I recommend starting slowly with small amounts of raw and gradually increasing if your pet has been accustomed only to cooked pet foods.


Magda December 6, 2012 at 9:09 AM

I used to feed my dog raw (sadly, she passed away) and it was between 2-3% of her weight (she was a German shepherd). For dogs this is a good formula to follow, though smaller dogs tend to eat more, up to 10% of their body weight daily.
Can’t recall what it is for cats, but starting with maybe 3-5% should work and adjust accordingly.


Allie November 30, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Your little one is adorable!
Great occasional treat for the pups. Personally, I would leave out the cooked mashed bone choosing raw meaty bones instead.
Thanks for the recipe.


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 4:53 PM


The cooked bones are not meant to replace raw meaty bones. Dogs definitely should get those.

Our cats won’t touch raw bones, though.


Allie November 30, 2012 at 6:41 PM

What is the nutritional content of bones cooked so long? I normally throw mine out.


Mr Bubbs December 2, 2012 at 6:59 PM

My wife just started the GAPS diet, so we have tons of cooked bones (and no pets)… Bone meal and wood ash both make great organic fertilizer for the garden though, so I just throw the bones in the fire ring in the back yard and burn them. They break down into white powder after a couple hot fires. In the spring I’ll sift through the ashes and put them in the garden. Don’t put them out before you have your fire going though or the neighbor’s cats & dogs might think you made pet food for them : )


Kathy January 1, 2013 at 10:47 PM

cool idea :)


Andy December 2, 2012 at 5:35 AM

Agreed. Cooked bones are a bad idea regardless of how long they’ve been cooked.


cheeseslave December 2, 2012 at 9:04 AM

The cooked bones are optional.

They do contain nutrition of course, just not as much as the broth.

You could also add broth or gravy — they’d love that!


Kathy January 1, 2013 at 10:46 PM

I do give the cooked bones to my dogs, but I’m uncomfortable with giving them to them whole still for fear of splintering. So I mash them with a fork and then run them through the food processor with any left over carcass meat & some broth until they are a paste. My husband then feels through the paste for bone shards. Usually there are none but we do it just in case. The paste can easily be added to any meal for them.


Liz March 13, 2013 at 6:16 PM

You married a keeper if he’ll plunge his hands into pureed bone-meat mash to feel for bone shards… the very thought of sticking my hands in that gives me the heeby-jeebies. That or he just really loves your critters! Or both! :)


Annie the Bloodhound November 30, 2012 at 4:49 PM

This is fantastic that you are making pet food. Everyone should because what is on the shelf is pure waste from human produce foods. These corporations need to make money off the waste at the expense of pets.

I would like to mention a few things about your recipe that really needs adjusted:
1) Sour cream is to high in fat and could cause pancreatitis in dogs it would be best to use nonfat yogurt or kefir.
2) There are no vegetables in the mix to add the significant vitamins needed. If you would add spinach or kale this would add a substantial amount of needed vitamins. However, for cats they must have taurine to survive and it can only be found in meat so less veggies is fine. Peas are excellent for cats!
3) DO NOT feed cooked bones to any animal the reason why is cooked bones splinter very easy and can cause choking or intestinal punctures. If you feed your pets bones make sure they are raw and please supervise them while eating it.
4) Rule of thumb ….. low fat and low sodium …………

Please do not think I am attacking you……very much to the contrary as we need more and more people to realize that what the big manufacturers are trying to feed you about their pet food being healthy is so wrong. KUDOS to you for blogging about pet food.

Please visit my blog for a crockpot recipe and other recipes.

Once again ……thank you for posting about the unhealthy manufactured pet foods.


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 4:52 PM


The bones I recommend are VERY well cooked. We make a lot of broth, as do most of my readers, so this is a way to use it up — please reread the post.

This recipe is not meant to be a complete pet food — it is an occasion meal in addition to other pet food (again please read the post)


Deb T November 30, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Please take a look at my post regarding cooked bones. They’re a no-no.


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 5:30 PM


Please reread the post. These are VERY WELL COOKED bones, simmering for a minimum of 12 hours. They fall apart at the touch.


Deb T November 30, 2012 at 5:39 PM

I guess I’ve never cooked bones long enough for them to fall apart like that. Ignore what I said.


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 8:08 PM

If you make broth the traditional way (simmered for a long time), this is what happens to the bones.

Here are some recipes:


Jeanmarie November 30, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Read the whole post, people! I’m going to jump in here and agree that very well cooked bones, as in leftovers from making stock, are excellent for dogs and pose no threat. Raw bones are good, lightly cooked bones are dangerous because they splinter easily, but bones that have been simmered for 24 hours can be easily broken by human hand, and the powerful jaw of a dog. (We don’t feed them to our cats, for some reason I’d never thought of it.)

Every time we eat chicken or something we resist the temptation to feed the bones to the dogs, instead save them in the freezer for stock, and after the stock is done cooking and strained, the cooled leftover meat, bones and veggies from the stock become yummy and nutritious dog food. We don’t grind up the bones, since the dogs enjoy crunching them and it’s better exercise for their jaws and perhaps helps the teeth, though maybe not as much as raw bones, I’m not sure.

I suspect commercial dog food, even the best grain-free brands, are deficient in fat; our lucky dogs clean our cooking pans and plates (before we wash them in the sink with soap and hot water, don’t worry!) and they *know* fat is good for them. Our little rat terrier won’t eat kibble now that doesn’t have stock or fat (lard or bacon grease, etc.) mixed in. Even then, sometimes he just licks off the fat!

I’m in the same boat, I don’t have time (or money) to do a totally raw diet for the animals right now. (With 3 big dogs and 1 little one, and five cats, it would be a big job!) So I feed them raw treats when I can manage it, to boost the nutrients and keep them familiar with the taste of raw meat; not all pets transition easily to an all-raw diet. I know some people insist it must be all raw or all cooked, but I think that’s nonsense. We do the best we can, and it’s better than nothing! Otherwise we feed grain-free kibble, and that’s not cheap either, but we think it’s worth it. An example of a raw treat we feed is meaty rib bones, or chicken gizzards and hearts, or gristly bits; they’re less crazy about liver but I’ll probably try that more often to get them used to it.


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 8:11 PM

“I’m in the same boat, I don’t have time (or money) to do a totally raw diet for the animals right now.”

That’s what I was trying to say!

And YES! Our cats love fat. My daughter left a piece of toast with butter on a plate on the bed and one of the cats licked off the butter. They also both love sour cream and will eat it all by itself.


Lydia McD December 1, 2012 at 2:42 PM

I think, generally speaking, bones from factory-farmed animals, poultry in particular, are the ones that gave bones the bad rap in the first place. Bones from free-ranging big animals, who are allowed to stretch their legs and bear weight, are far stronger than the bones of factory farmed animals.


Beth November 30, 2012 at 6:23 PM

I would NOT feed pets spinach, beets or other high oxalate foods.


Susan December 1, 2012 at 8:31 AM

Most reading I’ve done on feeding our dogs organ meat is that if a dog were in the wild, it would take down an animal and eat all the organs first. Organs are full of fat! I think the feeding your pets a low fat diet is as bogus as it is for humans.

We can’t even take our dogs to the pet store without people asking us what shampoo we use on them. Their coats are amazing! Soft and super shiny. Funny thing is, i can’t remember the last time we washed them, let alone with what shampoo. Their coats are amazing because of all the fat they get….daily. They get raw liver every day. Then other days its a combo of chicken, veggies, egg yolks, chicken broth, a spoonful of full fat yogurt daily for their probiotics, pumpkin and a sprinkle of tumeric to keep them cancer free. Other days I will put a heaping spoonful of bacon fat on their food. As you can see, its all about the fat!

My dogs have never been to the vet and the only shots they’ve had are rabies because the city requires it for their license. After they’ve had that, I’ve given them Vitmain C for three weeks to help them fight off whatever poison was in the shot. My friend has her dog at the vet 2 or 3 times a year. She spends hundreds of dollars on her 7 year old dog. When I tell her to at least give her dog some raw liver, she says she can’t afford it (nevermind we shop at the same store and it costs $3 for a tub of grass-fed liver). Yet somehow she can afford the $400 visit to the vet, who by the way, is “healing” her dog on a low fat diet.

Oh brother! Its full fat at my house for me and my pups!


Lovelyn November 30, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Thanks for the recipe. As soon as I get settled into my new house I’m planning on getting a cat. Since I feed my family the Weston Price way, I’ve been wondering what I should do about my animals when I get them. I know that most pet food is full of garbage and I need to find healthy alternatives.


JWG November 30, 2012 at 5:19 PM

I think it’s great you are supplementing your kitties kibble with nutrient dense foods. I think it might be more helpful if you were more explicit that this is only for occasional/supplemental feeding.

If any of your readers fed this exclusively or often their kitties and pups would be missing out on key nutrients, and it’s not well balanced. I learned so much about this from Dr. Karen Becker (who works with Dr. Mercola). She has a book that teaches all about species appropriate raw feeding and how important it is to get it right. She sees well meaning raw feeders bring in some pretty sick puppies and kitties because their raw foods were not complete. Also, while cats are carnivores, dogs are not. It is necessary to include plant matter in their diet, even though the volume is much lower than the animal product. I highly recommend her book “Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats”.


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM


“I think it might be more helpful if you were more explicit that this is only for occasional/supplemental feeding.”

I’ve added to the post


Deb T November 30, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Bravo on the nutritional call of raw/fresh meats vs. store-bought pet foods. I started feeding my lab raw 2 years ago after she almost died from being misdiagnosed by 6 vets and spending 2+ months being prescribed antibiotics, steroids and antihistamines. She’s now 12-1/2 and in better shape than she was two years ago. A big HOWEVER here though: dogs/cats should never be fed bones that have been cooked. Dogs and cats DO need bone in their diet (recommended raw diet is 80% meat, 20% bone and organ meat) but cooked bones can splinter and become deadly. Raw bones are nutritionally great. My favorite is chicken backs that I buy frozen at Wholefoods. They are organic and there are still kidneys & liver bits attached. Plus the bones are soft enough for my old dog to crunch without breaking any teeth. Pork ribs are good too. Beef bones tend to be really hard. More information can be found here in a free PDF book and I’d also recommend joining a raw feeding forum like this one:


Deb T November 30, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Oh and from what I’ve learned, carnivores don’t need vegetables or fruits. Wild animals will not eat the stomach contents of the animals they’ve killed — I’ve witnessed this myself. All the nutrition from the food the prey has eaten is in their bodies. I do give my dog Omega 3 capsules (or lately cod liver oil) because of the nutritional imbalance of Omega 3s vs Omega 6 in “factory farmed” animals since they don’t eat natural diets. If you can feed your pets raw meat/bones from animals that are pasture raised, the Omegas are not an issue.


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 5:31 PM

@Deb T

You did not thoroughly read the post. This is what it says:

If you add leftover bones from making broth, make sure the bones are very well-cooked. Simmer the chicken broth for at least 12-24 hours and the beef broth for 24-36 hours. The cooked bones should crumble easily to the touch.


Deb T November 30, 2012 at 5:39 PM



Kelsey November 30, 2012 at 7:54 PM

In other words, these boned have been cooked so long that they pose no threat to the dog. Pretty sure that bones that can easily be squished by the human hand are soft enough for a dog to eat. Read, people!


Kathy January 1, 2013 at 11:16 PM



Pat November 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

I feed my cats raw which I make following the recipe at They get raw everyday. Ground raw bones, skin, and chunks including hearts, gizzards and some liver. The recipe is important because vitamins and salmon oil must be added, including taurine. When I won’t be home to feed them twice a day, they get dry grain free kibble. I kept them off kibble for 3 months till they craved the raw. Now they love both and eat whichever they get. They get fed twice a day. Food is not left out unless I’m out of town for the weekend. Then i leave the grain-free kibble out for them. Three cats split 1/2 cup raw food in the morning and again at night. They eat less when they get the nutrition they need from the food that is meant for them. RAW meat.


Kelsey November 30, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Thanks for the idea of feeding them organ meat rather than muscle meat! I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. We can’t afford, and don’t have time for an all raw diet (until we can afford to get OUR diet the way it should be, I’m not going to feed the dog better than us), so we just feed him the best food we can afford, and this is a great idea to occasionally give him organ meat. Our dog will eat anything you put in front of him (and I do mean anything. Except for raw kale), so he will gobble up organ meats!


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 8:06 PM


“We can’t afford, and don’t have time for an all raw diet (until we can afford to get OUR diet the way it should be, I’m not going to feed the dog better than us), so we just feed him the best food we can afford, and this is a great idea to occasionally give him organ meat.”

Thank you for explaining what I was trying to say so much more eloquently!

We are in the same boat — we just don’t have time to prepare an all raw diet for the cats and they are super picky (unlike most dogs). So this is my solution!


Jennifer @ 20 something allergies and counting...down November 30, 2012 at 9:45 PM

Great minds think alike! I just decided to share a cat food recipe (meat/organ meat only) next month. Mine doesn’t include anything but meat because of food allergies, but I’d even eat yours! :D And seriously, food allergies. Only *I* could get a cat who has food allergies too. lol


cheeseslave November 30, 2012 at 10:47 PM


“Mine doesn’t include anything but meat because of food allergies, but I’d even eat yours!”

My husband came home from a business trip the other night and accidentally ate some of my homemade cat food in the fridge. He said it was pretty good! :-)


Cynthia December 1, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Another inexpensive food for cats & dogs are raw chicken necks. My once carbo addicted cat loves them & has no problem eating them.


Cindy December 1, 2012 at 5:56 PM

I am so glad I stopped by, I’m going to do this. I had an old recipe about squash but my dog didn’t like it at all. My mom swore up and down that giving canned pumpkin zero calories to my dog was good too, to lose weight but he hated it. I’m off to try these new ideas. Thanks!


Vivian December 2, 2012 at 8:06 AM

This is a great recipe and wonderful as a break from commercial dry food for cats. I love that the bones are cooked and soft. I do this as well, I’m just not into feeding raw bones after a scare with one of my dogs. Thank you for sharing and your cats are gorgeous. And yes, vegetables are overrated for obligate carnivores like cats.


Ginny Jones December 3, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Love the picture of your girl, especially the one where she is “loving on” the poor cat. Reminds me of my sister and I when we were little. Our pets got lots of hugs, probably more than they wanted : ) Thanks for the recipe. I would be really interested to hear your recommendations on a food processor brand that you love. Perhaps I will submit a formal question for Sunday Q & A!


raya December 3, 2012 at 12:28 PM

I love Rad Cat. My cat is in great shape because of it. All raw with everything needed. Not that expensive when you think of the cost of vet bills. The raw frozen cat and dog food at Whole Foods is not bad, and I gat it occasionally. New Zealand made.


Joi December 3, 2012 at 3:55 PM

I made the mistake of saying that my cat could continue to eat dry food because I didn’t have time to make her food, knowing it was very unhealthy for her. We both paid for it by having to get her surgery to remove calcium oxalate stones. I still don’t have time to make healthy raw food, but I only feed no-grain, no-starch canned food. Dry food just didn’t have enough water to flush her out and caused severe dehydration. Raw food may be best, but canned food is a great second! No more dry food for us.

Oh! I think someone posted the link already, but this vet makes enough raw food for 3 months and freezes it!


insect accessories December 25, 2012 at 12:07 AM

I agree with you that pet food product are so expensive on pet store. So it is good idea of homemade food. Thanks for sharing this homemade food recipe.


dog food chicago February 14, 2013 at 1:55 AM

I also agree cook bones is really very bad idea. You should give meaty bones without cooking them to your pet. This is full of proteins which is best for your best health.


Bear January 27, 2014 at 3:27 PM

For those worried about cooked bones – run through a processor or grinder and make a paste. For the nutrition of the animal, raw bones are always best, though, ground up with the meat, skin, fat, and organs.
As for anyone suggesting veggies – leave them out! Carnivores do not eat plant fibers in the wild, and adding veggies can do a number on their digestive system, Better to invest in the essential vitamins and nutrients and add to the food you are making (for instance you can get taurine – essential to cats – in powder form).


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