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We have a Siberian cat, 6 months old, and currently we feed him as follows:

  • dry food: Royal Canin for Kittens
  • home-cooked food: soup with beef (or turkey or chicken) and some veggies (no salt/anything else but meat, veggies and water)
  • if we don't have time to cook, we use Gourmet wed food

So we feed him dry food a couple of times a day, and wet food (either home-cooked or Gourmet) a couple of times a day. WRT the home-made food he very much likes the soup itself, and eats the meat/veggies usually after finished with the liquid part - so we try to feed him with the home-cooked option, in addition to the dry food. At the same time, I have read that one should not mix home-cooked and specialized food for cats, since different enzymes are required for the two, and unbalancing them with mixed feed can cause distant issues when cat is older. Not stones, but more that their digestion becomes poorer and they don't get enough from the food due to issues with how they break the food down.

Of course for us it is easier to just feed him with bought food, so my question is mainly: is there any disadvantage of excluding the home-made food from the ration of our cat? We are going to try Orijen now as the dry option, and apparently it is good on nutrition quality, so with Gourmet wet food in addition, nutrition shall be covered well. Yet, maybe there is some good thing from the home-made soups, which he likes so much? I'm hesitant to consult the vet, since I live in Netherlands and after seeing cats around I am not sure whether vets' dietary advice is good here.

One more thing: I've read that since many cats are bred from the species that lived in low-moisture regions (deserts) their sources of hydration are mostly from food. At the same time, AFAIK Siberian cats are bred from Russian wild cats that lived in forests/river areas, so perhaps that may cause some differences in how they should be fed, compared to other breeds.

  • Human-tolerable Soup is likely to be too high in sodium to be a major part of a cat diet. The broth and some meat might be good as a treat. – Oldcat Aug 24 '15 at 22:54
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You shouldn't start feeding your cat homemade food without consulting a vet or pet nutritionist. The fact is, even the cheapest pet food companies pay to have samples of every batch of their food chemically tested and checked to make sure the proper vitamins and nutrients are included that your cat needs.

Now quality and quantity of these ingredients might vary and I think that there is a large difference between low end and high end cat or dog foods. I also don't deny that if you could make your animals' meals at home, they'd probably be very high quality and at a much, much lower cost for the same quality of store bought food. However, you can cause health problems for your animal if you consistently leave out a key nutrient that they require or don't add enough of.

That's where a vet or pet nutritionist comes in. You can work with them and they can advise you on a list of foods that will allow your animal to meet all requirements needed to keep them healthy as far as proteins, fats, amino acids, micro and macro nutrients, etc... You may learn that a particular food is good, but that if you boil it, it loses most of that nutrient, where if you cooked it on a grill or in a pan it might retain most of it. You'll also learn what you should avoid giving your pet. For instance, everyone knows not to give your dog chocolate, but I didn't hear that garlic and onions were bad for them for years. You could end up causing a reaction in your pet by feeding them something that doesn't agree with them. A good example is milk/cream. Most people want to give this to their cat because they see it in every cartoon and movie they watch. However, while they may enjoy it, most grown felines are lactose intolerant and you'll give them diarrhea and vomiting.

I'll also say that while dogs and cats might enjoy a little variety added to their food, such as a little shredded chicken on top of their food, they don't like variety the way people do. If I eat the same meal twice in a row, I almost can't stand to look at it a third time. However, animals do much better on a consistent diet. They get upset stomachs when it radically changes. I would probably pick one type of food and let this be your cat's food.

It's up to you as to what food you choose. If you choose to make your own, you'll have to deal with making meals for them all the time. You can make a large batch and section it out and put it in the refrigerator, but cats prefer warm food that simulates body temp of a fresh kill. You run into the same issues with wet food. If you buy a can that's over an individual serving's worth, you can keep it in the fridge, but you have to warm it. It's also messier to deal with and smells somewhat.

Dry food is much more convenient and you can free feed with it. However, like you noticed, cats get a lot of moisture from their food. They don't drink very much from a bowl. As an interesting side note, I watched a documentary that said cats don't like to have their water near their food bowl, because they feel like their kibble (aka their "kill") contaminates it. In the wild, they drink away from their kill. When we brought in a water bowl for the dogs during the winter, he started drinking from that and hasn't touched his own water bowl, so we stopped using it. Dry doesn't have much moisture and since they aren't naturally inclined to drink a lot, it can cause issue like crystals to form in their urinary tract. Mine has this issue. While the vet said that switching to a wet food would help, there are other factors that help cause these for mine. I currently do have him on a dry food, but it's also Royal Canin. It's their S/O brand for urinary tract issues and it encourages him to drink more and also provides a mild medication.

I hope this information can help you with deciding on what to feed your cat. You also mention cats around your area not looking like they're being fed properly, so you don't want to consult your vet. However, there many other variables to consider. A huge one is that they owners either didn't ask the vet what to feed them or they did and just aren't. Other factors include: age, breeding, health, and many other factors that can make a cat look like it's not getting the nutrition it needs. I'd at least talk to your vet and if you feel like their information isn't good, then you can contact a real nutritionist on the internet and ask their advice. I wouldn't presume to tell you myself, because I'm not one. I personally wouldn't feed my pet based on the advice of someone, even on a good site like this, because they aren't trained and their pet isn't your pet. They may be feeding something that works great for their animal, but they might not know something about yours that a nutritionist or vet would know right off. Good luck.

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A nutritionally balanced home-made meal is better for both you and your cat than something that comes from a factory in a bag or a can. It is less processed, fresher, contains fewer additives like preservatives and colorants, and will probably have more nutritional value.

So the disadvantage of excluding the home-made meals would be: your cat may be subject to a somewhat lower-quality diet.

Naturally, it is always good to give your pets the best food you can find. Will it ultimately make a substantial difference in their quality of life either way? It is hard to say with complete certainty, as so much of long-term mammalian health is determined by genetic factors.

I buy the premium cat foods like you. Ironically your and my cats eat better than a lot of people in the world: I think we are doing a good job taking care of our cats.

I would recommend not worrying about it too much: cats can live 15 to 20 years and be healthy on a diet of common inexpensive dry cat food.

As far as the hydration goes, I have always read domestic cats came from warm climates (both the jungle and the desert) but it is certainly possible there was some interbreeding with a local Siberian cat. I don't think we have to worry much about the moisture content of their food: as long as there is some water available they will drink when thirsty.

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    Cats have different dietary requirements than humans, so good for one will be not so good for the other. – Oldcat Aug 24 '15 at 22:56

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