Healthy & Inexpensive Homemade Pet Food

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

Ingredients

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

Equipment

Food processor

Directions

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.

Find Me Online

Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

51 thoughts on “Healthy & Inexpensive Homemade Pet Food

  1. 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!)

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

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

      1. 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.

  3. 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.

        1. 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 : )

        1. 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.

          1. 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! 🙂

  4. 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. https://bloodhoundndots.blogspot.com/

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

    1. @Annie

      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)

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

          Here are some recipes:

          https://cheeseslave.com/beef-stock/

          https://cheeseslave.com/how-to-make-homemade-chicken-stock/

      1. “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.

        1. 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.

    2. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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”.

  7. @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.

    1. 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!

  8. I feed my cats raw which I make following the recipe at www.catinfo.com. 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.

  9. 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!

    1. @Kelsey

      “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!

    1. @Jennifer

      “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! 🙂

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

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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! https://catinfo.org/?link=makingcatfood

  16. I just wanted to let your readers know that it's dangerous to give your pet cooked bones, as they can splinter. Always feed them raw bones. For a nutritionally balanced meal for cats, muscle meats/heart should make up about 83% of a meal, bones 7% and organs 10%.

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