Picture of Kidney Support Homemade Cat Food

My 15-year-old cat (Update 8/2014: Tony has just turned 18 years old!) has had kidney issues for a few years now. Over the last couple of years, I have managed it well by giving him homemade low-protein cat food made from recipes by established veterinary nutritionists, and under my vet's supervision. I choose not to buy the prescription canned food because of the numerous recalls that have plagued pet food in recent years, plus even though the food I make is expensive, it still costs less in the end than canned food, and I control the ingredients.

The process is time and labor intensive, but I use all parts of what I cook. I hope this is useful for you if you have an ailing cat as well. It may also be useful to you if you want to learn how to slow-cook chicken and use up all the parts of it.

DISCLAIMER: This is not meant to substitute for veterinary medical advice. It is a guide to how I prepare a recipe my vet recommended, along with other holistic wisdom I picked up along the way. Your mileage may vary, but please only proceed under medical supervision.

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Step 1: Ingredients & Supplies

Picture of Ingredients & Supplies
To make the food, you will need:

- Chicken
- Brown rice* (I have recently moved to quinoa; see Step 3 for more details)
- Salt
- Salt substitute (potassium chloride)
 - Baking soda (calcium carbonate) or calcium carbonate supplements
- Taurine
- Bone meal
- Multivitamins - I use these: Nu-Cat Senior
- Vitamin K
- A good blender
- Mortar & pestle

Optional but recommended:
Renal Essentials - Kidney Support for Cats

For an explanation of the recipe as well as others for both kidney issues and many others, you can read the book Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets, which is the top-recommended resource for this knowledge. My vet originally provided me with recipes from the previous edition, but I bought this edition and have been using it as my guide with my vet's approval.
Lois AnneS4 days ago

Just wanted to let your readers know that baking soda is NOT calcium carbonate, it is sodium bicarbonate. There is a baking soda substitute that has calcium carbonate in it but it is not a fool proof choice as a source. Better to order from a natural food supplement supplier. I order mine from NOW Foods (not an endorsement, folks!). My 15 yo kitty is recovering from a very recent bout of acute renal failure. I am making her food rather than using a "prescription" diet. The last time she was prescribed such a diet for her diabetes (dry food caused), her diabetes got worse. I began making her a high protein, low carb diet and her BS are now completely normal, she is no longer needing insulin and her neuropathy has completely reversed itself. We still don't know the cause of her renal failure (there are many) but her vet is receptive to homecooked diets, even providing me with one for her kidney issue.

kquitter3 months ago
look into a herbal product called 'Crysta-clear'. works wonders
mzbeetnoff5 months ago

Thanks for this. Hopefully my cat will be as happy as your Tony <3

Thank you for writing this article and all the information. I, just like you started making my cats home made cat food about a year ago. My oldest cat, who was 14 at the time, had a tumor in his belly. I only allowed blood work and an xray. I took things into my own hands by giving him marijuana oil and making his food. He just recently got a bad UTI and has the beginnings of kidney disease. The vet gave me antibiotics and Prescription K/D can food which is full of crap and I am sure GMO's which could bring back the cancer. I got a recipe from the vet which is made with liver, eggs, rice, calcium carbonate and vegetable oil. I put that together and none of the cats are going for it. I am going to make your recipe. They all love chicken. Costco is near me and they sell organic chicken legs in bulk which is good since I have 3 cats.

Greenies6 months ago

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid for cats. UC Davis Veterinary Nutritional Services recommends corn oil over animal fat because it is higher in linoleic acid so you don't have to add as much. I thought safflower oil was higher in linoleic acid but the type generally available is the high oleic (not linoleic) type.

lalalaux1 year ago
Baking soda is NOT calcium carbonate! Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. It's a salt and nothing at all like calcium carbonate. I have no idea how this affects a cat, but I would NOT give it to mine, especially if you already have regular salt (sodium chloride) as well as lite salt (potassium chloride) in the recipe.

The only places I've seen in regular stores to find calcium carbonate is in the vitamin section in the form of calcium pills or powder for people. However, even there it is hard to find the pure stuff without the added vitamin D, and I also do not know how extra vitamin D in this form affects a cat's system. I would recommend more research if one were to go this route, or to simply buy a bottle of pure calcium carbonate powder from some place like amazon.

I love that you do this for your cat, but I felt strongly that I should mention this. Thank you for the instructable.
Greenies lalalaux6 months ago

I have the same concern about baking soda being listed. I think the author meant calcium carbonate but one of the photos shows a box of baking soda. The author said; "Feel free to ask questions, and I will modify this article if I've left anything out". Unfortunately the recipe hasn't been changed and the author has not responded to your comment which is now a year old. I hope that no cats have been harmed by people using baking soda in the recipe instead of calcium carbonate!

Greenies6 months ago

I appreciate your tutorial, but I have several questions and comments.

I did not see a weight or measure for the chicken so it would be helpful to how what the quantity is (lbs/ounces) per batch.

It would be helpful to know how many servings one batch makes (assuming an average 8 lb cat).

I also agree with the comment below that baking soda is NOT the same as calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate would be used to add calcium to the food. The only reason I can think of to add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the food would be to help counteract an acidic condition in the cat since baking soda is alkaline. 1/8 tsp of baking soda contains 160 mg sodium and 1/8 tsp salt contains 250 mg sodium. Chicken also contains some naturally occurring sodium so it's hard to tell how much sodium would be in each serving. If calcium isn't added to the batch then it seems like it would be lacking in calcium (it also helps helps counteract phosphorus). I would caution anyone thinking of using this recipe to ask their vet about the use of baking soda in it instead of calcium carbonate before they try it on their cat(s).

You said that your recipe called for canola oil, but instead you are using chicken fat. UC Davis' Veterinary Medicine Nutritional Support Service, uses corn oil in their prescription diet recipes because it is rich in the essential fatty acid, linoleic acid. They say; "Other fat sources (canola oil, butter, etc.) are lower in linoleic acid, and larger amounts are needed to meet this requirement. These fat sources are sometimes used in diet formulations with higher fat levels, but ingredients are not directly interchangeable due to the variation in fatty acid content." Unless canola or corn oil are organic they are gmo, so I wouldn't use them. Safflower oil is higher in linoleic acid than corn oil, so I might use organic cold pressed safflower oil. But I'd also want to use Nordic Naturals Omega-3 for pets to insure adequate omega 3 fatty acids.

Because I am not comfortable with the ingredients in my cat's commercial prescription diet food I am interested in making the food myself, but I don't want to cause more harm to my cat than good. For additional guidance I found the BalanceIT website which was founded by a board certified veterinary nutritionist. You can play around with their free 'Autobalancer' tool to add ingredients that you want in your cat's food and then you can print out a balanced recipe that uses their complete vitamin/mineral supplement (UC Davis uses it too). If you want use their 'Free Recipe Generator' which will generate a renal diet for your cat based on age, weight, health conditions, etc., they will contact your vet for permission to do so and then their veterinary nutritionist will help you with that. Their renal diet uses their BalanceIT Feline K vitamin/mineral supplement which is low in phosphorous and sodium and higher in potassium and other nutrients CKD kitties need.

catlily1 year ago
My cat demolished it and he looks really healthy. Thanks!

I loved your advice and detailed instructions. Especially for making broth/ stock (never done it before) and for making your own bone meal. Seems silly I didn't think of it before.

The free-range TJ's chicken is just great. Tastes much better. I followed the advice to "supplement" with gizzards, hearts, and liver (chicken). I sautéed some of these and made a "vitamin-mineral slurry" before blending with the meats. Cat loved it!

Oh- and I baked the cut up chicken and cut the meat into shreds. She ate some but she's still nauseous.

Important to note that Sodium Bicardbonate (baking soda) will simply not satisfy the calcium additive required for cat food. Tums tablets, however--would. Or the crushed bone meal.

Perhaps a cat in kidney failure/ renal disease would enjoy the stomachic properties of Na(CO3-)2 but …one would have to ensure the dosing is appropriate. (And most kitties would turn up their nose).

Crused tums worked for me. Or - Vit b12 tablets contain (mine do) Ca CO3.

I omitted the rice due to the grain controversies. Along with fish and canned and other variety (e.g. ground beef/ beef liver combo), she appears to enjoy the new homemade foods. Thanks!!!

lizzyanny2 years ago
A great recipe. thanks! In regards to not using rice because of the arsenic levels recently discovered; I read the Consumer Reports article and they said the high arsenic rice was rice from the southern USA where DDT was used for so many years in the production of cotton. Rice from California and the Eastern coumtries (Thailand, India etc) have a much lower arsenic content.
Rm-12682 years ago
This s a great recipe, and very easy to understand. I've been looking for a good recipe for my cat. Thank you.
sunshiine3 years ago
I really like this! Thanks for sharing.
susanrm (author)  sunshiine3 years ago
Thank you!