Okay, friends – we’ve already talked about how to make your own cat food and what your cat needs in his or her diet to be healthy, but what about when treat time comes? Is it absolutely necessary to shell out money on ready-made treats? Not at all! You can quickly and easily make your own cat treats at home and it’s not even all that expensive. While you’ll have to shell out a little money for some of the ingredients initially, you’ll save money over the buying ready-made treats in the long run. We’re going to get to a few super quick and easy recipes for cat treats in a moment, but first, let’s get a few basic tips out of the way.
How to Make Your Own Cat Treats: Helpful Hints
Cats are not people. Sure we sometimes like to think of them as children but they’re not. They can’t eat the same things you and I can eat all of the time. Some of the foods we eat on a regular basis can make our feline friends sick. Sometimes, these foods can even be toxic so I think it’s important to take a moment to mention foods you should never, ever give your kitty. The following food are off limits for cats:
- Baked goods
- Bread dough (or any other dough with yeast)
- Cooked bones
- Dairy products
- Dog food
Alcohol is probably a pretty obvious one but some of the other items on this list might need a little more explanation. Candy, gum, toothpaste and many baked goods can all be lumped together because they are dangerous to your cat for the same reason – xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in the items I just mentioned. This additive increases the amount of insulin circulating through your cat’s body and could lead to lethargy, loss of coordination (a pretty big deal for a cat), seizures, vomiting and even liver failure. Chocolate is also serious, leading to abnormal heart rate, seizures, tremors and possibly even death. Caffeine can be fatal for humans in high enough quantities so it stands to reason that it can also be fatal for cats. Keep an eye on your coffee cup. My Mookie loves to try to sneak sips and while a small quantity won’t cause any significant damage, larger quantities certainly will.
Grapes and raisins are also a bad idea for your furry friend as they have been known to lead to kidney failure in cats and can make cats sick, even in small quantities. The tricky thing about this one is that not all cats seem to suffer ill effects from grapes or raisins so it’s entirely possible your cat could eat them without getting sick. At the same time, it’s also entirely possible your cat could eat them and get sick or suffer kidney failure so it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to our feline friends.
This brings us to dairy products. Cats really seem to love dairy in all forms but that doesn’t mean they should have it. Kittens can often tolerate milk in small quantities but most adult cats cannot. This all has to do with the feline digestive system and the fact that it cannot process dairy so as much as your fuzzy friend may want it, they should not have it. I feel their pain on this one. I also love dairy and I can also not have it. Now, dairy, unlike many of the other things on the not-for-kitties list, really doesn’t have any long term negative health effects on cats but it can cause diarrhea and an upset tummy, similar to the effects dairy has on lactose intolerant humans like myself. I definitely don’t wish those symptoms on my kitties.
Chives, garlic and onions are three more of the foods that can be grouped together because they all have the same effect on cats. These foods break down your cats red bloods cells which can lead to anemia. These foods can also lead to gastrointestinal issues. It’s better to just avoid them. A small quantity every once in a while hasn’t been proven to have a negative impact on feline health but a large quantity at once or small quantities regularly will. I just avoid it entirely when making cat treats or cat food to be safe. One thing I always add to the cat food I make is bone – either as bone meal or ground up whole bones. The key words here are ‘ground up’. Bone is actually quite healthy for cats but it should only be given to them when it has been ground up in a grinder. Raw bones can be okay because they’re not likely to splinter but cooked bones should never, ever been given to a cat whole. They can and likely will splinter which could cause all sorts of problems. I avoid this issue by just not giving my cats bones at all unless they’ve been run through the grinder and mixed up as part of their food.
Let’s wrap this one up by talking about two foods that can be okay every once in a while but shouldn’t be given to cats on a regular basis – tuna and dog food. I occasionally give my cats tuna as a treat but I don’t allow it more than once a month if they even get it that often. I love tuna and make sandwiches for myself on a regular basis but I never leave the tuna where the cats can get at it. If you leave it where they can reach it, they will eat it! Dog food can be harder to keep from your cats. My youngest cat, Mookie, loves stealing my dog’s food, especially since it really ticks off the dog and ticking off the dog seems to be one of Mookie’s great pleasures in life. Stealing a bite of dog food every now and again is no problem but it shouldn’t be a staple food, just like tuna.
How to Make Your Own Cat Treats: 5 Recipes for Homemade Cat Treats
I was only going to include one recipe for cat treats but I just couldn’t narrow it down to one favorite. All of the recipes I’m about to share are simple, quick and moderately inexpensive and are sure to please your kitties. Just remember, these are intended as treats only. I only give my kitties their treats 2-3 times a week or when they’ve done something I feel they deserve a reward for (they’re great for teaching your kitties to do tricks or for rewarding good behavior). That keeps the treats special instead of allowing them to become something your cat expects. Okay, enough talk – let’s get to the recipes.
Homemade Cat Treat Recipe #1: Tuna Balls
Mookie loves these. Steve, well, she’s a finicky girl and for whatever reason, isn’t crazy about tuna. She likes them and will eat them but she prefers other treats a bit more. Mookie, on the other hand, absolutely loves them. To make tuna balls for your kitty, you’ll need:
- 1 can tuna, drained
- 1/2 can flaked turkey or chicken
- 2/3 can kitty kibble
- bread crumbs
- small mixing bowl
Step One: Combine the tuna, turkey or chicken and kitty kibble in your mixing bowl, making sure you mix it well.
Step Two: Form mixture into small balls.
Step Three: Chill for roughly an hour.
Step Four: Roll the balls in your bread crumbs and serve!
Homemade Cat Treat Recipe #2: Kitty Cookies
Now this is a treat Steve can really sink her teeth into. I don’t give it to them often, saving this treat for once every few months. To make Kitty Cookies, you’ll need:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup soy flour (available at most grocery stores)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. catnip
- 1/3 cup cat’s milk (available at most pet stores)*
- 1/3 cup powdered milk
- 2 tsp. wheat germ
- 1 tsp. unsulfurated molasses
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- cookie sheet
- mixing bowl
*if you can’t find cat’s milk, you can swap it out for regular milk
Step One: Preheat oven to 350° F.
Step Two: Oil your cookie sheet and set it aside.
Step Three: Mix all dry ingredients together, making sure they are well combined.
Step Four: Stir in remaining ingredients.
Step Five: Roll out mixture onto the cookie sheet you oiled in step two.
Step Six: Cut the mixture into small pieces. You want them to be small enough that they would be considered ‘bite sized’ to your cat.
Step Seven: Place the cookie sheet into the oven and bake your cookies for 20 minutes.
Step Eight: Remove for oven and allow to cool.
Step Nine: Remove from the sheet and place in a plastic container that seals tightly.
Homemade Cat Treat Recipe #3: Kitty Crackers with Tuna
As I mentioned earlier, Steve doesn’t love tuna. She does, however, love these crackers. Sometimes I think she just likes to be picky for the sake of being picky. In any event, both of my kitties go nuts for these crackers. To make them, you’ll need:
- 6 oz. tuna, undrained
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup water
- Mixing bowl
- Cookie sheet, greased
Step One: Preheat oven to 350° F
Step Two: Add all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and mix it will.
Step Three: Roll batter onto a clean, flat surface so that the batter is about 1/4 inch thick.
Step Four: Cut batter so it forms pieces that would be bite sized to a cat.
Step Five: Place pieces onto your greased cookie sheet.
Step Six: Place the cookie sheet in the over and bake crackers for 20 minutes or until crackers are golden colored.
Step Seven: Cool until ready to serve.
Homemade Cat Treat Recipe #4: Burgers for the Kitties
I’ve not only served these treats to my own cats but have given the recipe to friends to make for their kitties and it’s always a hit. To make burgers for your kitties, you’ll need:
- 3 oz. sausage, finely ground*
- 2 tbsp. oatmeal
- 1 egg
- catnip, finely chopped (I only use about a tablespoon, but you may want to use more or less depending on your cat’s taste)
*can be traded our for finely ground beef
Step One: Kneed all of the ingredients together making sure you’ve mixed everything together well.
Step Two: Shape the mixture into flat patties.
Step Three: Broil on medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until the outside is crisp. Make sure you turn them often to ensure you get the best cook on the patties.
Step Four: Remove from heat and allow them to cool.
Step Five: Cut up cooled patties into cat bite-sized pieces and serve.
Homemade Cat Treat Recipe #5: Scrumptious Sardines
Steve is a finicky eater. Mookie will eat anything I set in front of him. Both of them go absolutely mad for these seafood treats. Steve has learned the sound of the sardine can opening and tries to climb me like a tree every time she hears it. Mookie hasn’t learned that sound yet but he has learned to watch Steve. When she goes nuts, he goes nuts. I wouldn’t be surprised if your cats do too. To make Scrumptious Sardine treats for your cats, you’ll need:
- 2 cans sardines (flat cans)
- 2/3 cup rice, cooked
- 1 tbsp. liver, pureed (canned liver cat food works as well)
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- small-medium sized mixing bowl
Step One: Combine all of your ingredients in your mixing bowl. Make sure you mix them well.
Step Two: Roll into balls or simply spoon it out into your cat’s dish. It’s that easy.
This recipe is a wonderful treat that will stay good in your fridge for up to three days. You can also freeze this one in plastic containers to thaw and serve later.