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UPDATE: My dear Tony passed away in January 2015. In the last few months of his life, he suffered from diabetes and progressive liver failure. He lived a good long life, and I tried to manage his conditions with diet, but it reached a point when I just needed to feed him anything he would eat. I hope your cat lives well and healthy. I am updating this recipe with a few things I learned in the last couple of years.

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.

Step 1: Ingredients & Supplies

To make the food, you will need:

- Cooked chicken
- Brown rice (careful of the source, try not to get from Southern US)
- Salt
- Salt substitute (potassium chloride)
- 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
CoQ10

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.

Step 2: Prepare the Chicken Meat

I use chicken legs instead of chicken breasts because the dark meat has more nutrition, plus my cat was losing too much weight on the breasts; he needs more fat. I buy organic chicken legs from Trader Joe's, which makes them pretty affordable.

My method of cooking is to place the chicken legs in a steamer in a crock pot and cook on low heat. I've found that this tends to keep more of the nutrients in the food. The strainer lets the fat drip down too.

Once the legs are cooked and cooled somewhat, I peel the skin and remove the meat and gristle from the bones. I don't throw anything away. The meat gets put in a bowl. Some might be used today, the rest saved for another day.

If I drop anything, my clean-up crew is right there taking care of it for me!

Since I live so far from Trader Joe's, I only make a trip about once a month. So I buy several packages at once. I may use one package fresh and freeze the rest. I freeze them by wrapping each one in plastic wrap and storing them in a freezer zipper bag.

Step 3: Prepare Other Ingredients

Once the chicken has been taken out of the strainer, I pour the fat into a container to use in the recipe.

The peeled skin gets dehydrated for a few hours and used later. (The dehydrated gristle makes good dog treats if used sparingly.) I dehydrate them to make them keep longer.

I put the bones back in the crock pot with the remains of the drippings, add water, and let cook for several hours to make a broth, also for the recipe.

Brown rice* should be cooked somewhere along the way. I like to cook mine in my rice cooker, often with broth left from the previous chicken batch.

Once the broth is complete, I take the bones out and dehydrate them. When they are dry, I use a mortar and pestle to pound them into smaller pieces, then use a blender to make bone meal. I am also saving other bones to burn and then use in my garden as a source of phosphorus.

Step 4: Mixing: First Steps

I have found that unless I really blend the rice thoroughly with the food, my cat will find a way to leave lots of bits of rice over. One way to make this happen, if you don't have a Vitamix blender is to let the rice soak for a while (especially if you have cooked and refrigerated it) and then blend it in liquid, either broth or water, until it makes a nice blended mush.

Since I am making a double batch this time, I use 1-1/3 cup of cooked rice. The recipe calls for 2/3 cup per batch.

Warning: If you are going to take this on, you will need a good blender. My affordable workhorse, after I burned through a Magic Bullet and a Cuisinart blender, is a Ninja Master Prep blender set. It works well, though I still long for a Vitamix.*

Next I crush up the crushable supplements in my mortar and pestle.

Update 3/2012: I picked up a refurbished Blendtec last fall - you know, the kind that Starbucks uses to make their blended drinks. Best $180 I've spent in ages. Now I don't bother with the mortar and pestle, but pulse a few times with the Blendtec to grind the supplements, and then let it blend for a while. The result is smooth, creamy, and totally edible, according to Tony. He has gained weight and improved health-wise in the last few months; his latest test results showed some kidney function improvement. Yay!

I picked up this old postal scale at a yard sale for $5. Great investment. This allows me to see how many ounces I am measuring for the recipe. This recipe calls for 3 oz of chicken per batch, and I'm making a double batch, so 6 oz.

The first scale photo shows that I zero the scale with the empty container on it first.

Step 5: Mixing: Next Steps

Once the chicken and rice are blended, I add:


- 5 tsp of fat per batch. The recipe suggests canola oil, but cats digest animal fat more easily, so I use my chicken fat, unless I run out. To help my cat retain weight, I also throw some extra pieces of fatty dehydrated skin in there. In response to certain commenters who suggest corn oil, by all means do your own research and work with nutritionists. I have heard from a number of people that cats don't digest vegetable oil well, and I have concerns about rapeseed (canola) oil and won't use it myself.
- 1/4 tsp potassium chloride salt substitute per batch
- 1/8 tsp salt per batch
- 1/4 tsp bone meal powder per batch
- 1/8 tsp calcium carbonate/baking soda per batch
- Vitamins & renal supplements according to bottle directions per batch*
- Taurine, 1000 mg per 1/4 tsp: 1/4 tsp per batch
- Vitamin K, 100 mcg per tablet: 1 tablet per batch

*One portion makes about two meals for my cat; your mileage may vary.

Why is the final blended food greenish? For a while I tried adding Very Green to his food, and I thought I saw some improvement in energy, eye clarity, and a reduction in urination. His tests improved, too. Then at the last checkup, his kidney values were worse again, so I took this addition out. I may add it back in again, though, since he seems to be getting worse since I stopped it (more urination, more fur loss, throwing up some).

Food-making time is an exciting event for the furry members of my home. It always draws an audience.

Step 6: Experimental Additive

Since my cat was losing weight, I observed him carefully, and I noticed that he would go two to three days without pooping. In that time, as he became more constipated, he would eat less; then as soon as he eliminated, he would eat a lot. So I decided to try an additive: chia seeds. These amazing little seeds are a super food that contains lots of Omega 3's (also recommended by my vet) and tons of fiber, as well as helping with hydration, which my cat really needs. I gave him maybe 1/2 tsp per food bowl. (I drink a teaspoon of these every morning myself in orange juice, along with a teaspoon of Very Green.)

Sure enough, before too long, he started becoming more regular and having a better appetite. He did not lose weight in the last six months, which is amazing given the extent of his kidney failure. I haven't been able to find any research on the use of chia in cats, but I told my vet, and he okayed it.

Update: I have since stopped the chia seeds and added Slippery Elm powder, okayed by my vet, to help remedy constipation. This really helps too.

I used to add a few pieces of holistic kibble on top or mixed in. The reason for this is that my cat lived on kibble his whole life prior to this kidney failure. I did not know that cats are desert animals accustomed to getting most of their liquid from their food, and that I was damaging his health by feeding him kibble. Therefore, he became conditioned to thinking "food" means "kibble," so it wasn't really feeding time for him unless he heard the sound of the kibble box. Then he happily devoured his whole meal. Now he happily consumes his kibble-free meals.

Feel free to ask questions, and I will modify this article if I've left anything out.

<p>Are you in debt? Do you need to raise cash for health care costs <br>or paying debts or in a state of financial breakdown? Wait! Consider selling <br>your kidney as an Option. If you wish to sell your kidney today. Message us immediately. <br>A kidney is bought for a maximum amount of $208,000.00US Dollars. The National <br>foundation is currently buying healthy kidney. My name is Dr Larry James, am a Nephrologists <br>in the kidney National hospital. Our Hospital is specialized in Kidney Surgery <br>and we also deal with buying and transplantation of kidneys with a living an <br>corresponding donor. We are located in Indian, Canada, UK, Turkey, USA, <br>Malaysia, South Africa etc. If you are interested in selling or buying kidney&rsquo;s <br>please don&rsquo;t hesitate to contact us via Email : aphospital27@gmail.com</p><p>Need Geniune Donors</p><p>Waiting for your responds&hellip;.</p><p>Best Regards&hellip;.</p><p>Dr Larry James</p>
<p>Since this site is regarding cats with chronic kidney disease, and making homemade cat food for a healthy diet for them, perhaps you should include all necessary information regarding costs associated with acquiring healthy feline kidneys, and how long the cat would take to recover from the surgery when they receive a new kidney... also could you quote the costs associated with airline travel to those third world countries you operate in? First class preferred with two seats, one for me and one for the cat. Cats are people too and those of us who really love our cats would spare no expense and we would go to any length to save their lives. However, I don't see any notation as to your qualifications as a Doctor of Vetrinary Medicine so perhaps you cannot help.</p><p>Best regards right back at ya' Dr Larry James.</p><p>Incidentally, your grammar needs attention. You never capitalize the second word in &quot;Best Regards&quot;.</p>
Hello.<br>My only concern with this recipe is the added salts. My fur baby also has hypothyroidism. No salt. Can i still make this minus the salt? <br>Thank you . Carol
Hello, I understand that this post is quite old and no recent comments. But thought I'd try my luck anyway. My boy, Franklin T has been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and was wondering if the above would be applicable to him as well. My vet has recommended the Royal Canin SO wet food and hasn't been much help in regards to a more natural diet. I'm loathe to keep Frank on this long term ( finishing the pack up that he'd been given whilst under observation at the vets with uti). Unfortunately where I am, most vets aren't versed in alternative methods for cats and they're next to clueless when it comes to homemade, filler free diets and it is infuriating! Any info is much appreciated.
<p>I just took a cat from a<br>animals foster. What food is the best for him? I have no idea, this is the<br>first cat for me. I just want him to be happy, healthy and full of energy.<br>Internet is full of advice, i&rsquo;m confused.</p>
<p>Baking soda should never be used in pet food! It is sodium bicarbonate and will spike the sodium levels in the food dangerously high. An Amazon review of the second edition of the book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0813801192/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=aspiarts-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399369&creativeASIN=0813801192" rel="nofollow">Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets</a>, points out this error all through the book of stating that baking soda is calcium carbonate. It is not! Also for cats with chronic kidney disease (CKD), the preferred phosphorous binder is aluminum hydroxide so as not to elevate their often already too high blood calcium levels. If the CKD is not too advanced and your cat's calcium a good level, well in the normal range, then calcium carbonate can be safely used. You can get calcium carbonate in bulk, likely through a pharmacy. </p>
Yes, we know. This has been addressed many times.
Oh good! Thanks for letting me know.
<p>I appreciate your tutorial, but I have several questions and comments.</p><p>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. </p><p>It would be helpful to know how many servings one batch makes (assuming an average 8 lb cat).</p><p>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).</p><p>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; &quot;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.&quot; 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. </p><p>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. </p>
<p>I tried BalanceIT and even paid for a premium recipe when Tony's health started declining, but because he had so many conflicting conditions, they refunded my money and told me they couldn't help. It's a great resource, though. I ended up feeding him whatever he would eat.</p>
<p>Also, I will have to look up the measures for the chicken and the grains. I can't recall right now.</p>
<p>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 &quot;prescription&quot; 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.</p>
<p>I responded to several of these comments, but you are also right. I don't know why the recipe my vet gave me mentioned baking soda. I don't use that and haven't for a long time. I have synthesized the recipes I was given into the best recipe I can, but some of the info was obviously bad.</p>
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. <br> <br>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. <br> <br>I love that you do this for your cat, but I felt strongly that I should mention this. Thank you for the instructable.
<p>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; &quot;Feel free to ask questions, and I will modify this article if I've left anything out&quot;. 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!</p>
<p>You are right. I don't know why the recipe my vet gave me mentioned baking soda. I don't use that and haven't for a long time. I have synthesized the recipes I was given into the best recipe I can, but some of the info was obviously bad. Haven't been on Instructables for ages, so I apologize again for the delay.</p>
<p>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. </p><p>The free-range TJ's chicken is just great. Tastes much better. I followed the advice to &quot;supplement&quot; with gizzards, hearts, and liver (chicken). I saut&eacute;ed some of these and made a &quot;vitamin-mineral slurry&quot; before blending with the meats. Cat loved it!</p><p>Oh- and I baked the cut up chicken and cut the meat into shreds. She ate some but she's still nauseous. </p><p>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. </p><p>Perhaps a cat in kidney failure/ renal disease would enjoy the stomachic properties of Na(CO3-)2 but &hellip;one would have to ensure the dosing is appropriate. (And most kitties would turn up their nose). </p><p>Crused tums worked for me. Or - Vit b12 tablets contain (mine do) Ca CO3. </p><p>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!!!</p>
<p>You are right. I don't know why the recipe my vet gave me mentioned baking soda. I don't use that and haven't for a long time. I have synthesized the recipes I was given into the best recipe I can, but some of the info was obviously bad.</p>
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.
<p>Thank you, that's good information. I did hear they found high arsenic in New Hampshire and East Asian rice as well, though.</p>
Is your cat very finicky about food?
<p>Are you in debt? Do you need to raise cash for health care costs or paying debts or in a state of financial breakdown? Wait! Consider selling your kidney as an Option. If you wish to sell your kidney today. Message us immediately. A kidney is bought for a maximum amount of $208,000.00US Dollars. The National foundation is currently buying healthy kidney. My name is Dr Larry James, am a Nephrologists in the kidney National hospital. Our Hospital is specialized in Kidney Surgery and we also deal with buying and transplantation of kidneys with a living an corresponding donor. We are located in Indian, Canada, UK, Turkey, USA, Malaysia, South Africa etc. If you are interested in selling or buying kidney&rsquo;s please don&rsquo;t hesitate to contact us via Email : aphospital27@gmail.com <br>Need Geniune Donors <br>Waiting for your responds&hellip;. <br>Best Regards&hellip;. <br>Dr Larry James</p>
<p>How much phosphorus in this receipe? </p>
look into a herbal product called 'Crysta-clear'. works wonders
<p>Thanks for this. Hopefully my cat will be as happy as your Tony &lt;3</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
My cat demolished it and he looks really healthy. Thanks!
This s a great recipe, and very easy to understand. I've been looking for a good recipe for my cat. Thank you.
I really like this! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you!

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