I’m a crazy cat lady. Okay, no, let me rephrase that: I’m a crazy animal lady. I love all animals. I don’t discriminate. I’ve had both cats and dogs at various points my entire life; sometimes at the same time. I chase bunnies in our yard in the hopes one will hop into my arms and speak to me like Thumper. I feed the birds & have a bird bath in the yard (despite them shitting on everything!). I came home from the hospital after being born and shared my crib with Daffy, a little calico. Since then I’ve had Licorice (Licky), Tigger (Tiggy- notice a pattern?), Casey (canine not feline), Arwyn (Awbeez) and now Indy (also canine). My mother has had cats since she was 4 years old.
And the newest addition to the family is my mom’s new kitty, Snowflake.
Snowflake (aka Snowy, aka snuggle face, aka Snowball, aka Arabella Snowflake, aka crazy ass, aka silly butt) is around 3 years old, and she’s deaf. We aren’t 100% sure of the extent of her hearing loss, but it’s probably around 90%. She does hear some things- specifically higher frequency things (i.e. babies/kids yelling, high pitched noise) but its not all the time and it isn’t clear how much of it she hears. Not that that holds her back at all! She’s the sweetest little mush face in the world; she’s beautiful too (for the in-depth story about how we surprised my mom with her, keep reading to the bottom of the post). She’s super friendly, loves people, loves kids, loves to snuggle… and loves to eat. Ah, a girl after my own heart. Which is funny because she’s a thin, graceful, athletic little thing!
But boy, does she love to eat. Treats, canned food, dry food, human food. She likes French dressing. Seriously. And she loooooooves catnip. We have a certified addict here.
So I decided to make her a little gift. Homemade cat treats, in a fancy little jar.
Arwyn, my mom’s previous cat, was not big on homemade stuff. She was super picky- she’d prefer to go without food than deign to eat a can of something unappetizing. She did love cat treats, but she was selective. She didn’t like soft treats, didn’t like fish-flavored ones, etc. Snowflake, on the other hand, loves all food. We haven’t hit on something yet that she doesn’t like.
I was inspired to make these by Joy The Baker, who inspires me in many ways. Her cat treat recipes have been making me think about homemade cat stuff for quite some time. Yeah, I’ve made Indy TONS of homemade cookies and biscuits and “pupcakes.” But cats? I always assumed they were too picky (or at least mine were). But Snowflake made me change my mind.
The jar idea is something I’ve been doing for a while (remember these?), but Joy also has that on her blog, and you can find them all over the internet. It’s a very simple DIY and I’ll get to more about that after the cat treats.
- 1 4-ounce jar baby food (preferably a meaty one, unless your cat likes pumpkin or squash in which case that works too- just avoid the fruit ones)
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 – 2 tablespoons tuna fish water/oil (just open a can, drain out the liquid and measure it and save the tuna for yourself!) OR 1 tablespoon wet cat food
- 1 tablespoon catnip
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 325° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
- Whisk baby food, catnip, tuna water/oil, olive oil and egg together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick, like cookie dough.
- Using a teaspoon or pastry bag, plop drops of the dough on the parchment. It won’t spread, so make them as close together and as small/large as you like. If you have a big cat or one with a large appetite, make them a little bigger. If you have a small cat or one with a small appetite, make them small. Alternately, spread the mixture out on the parchment to make a sheet of dough about 1/3 of an inch thick. This second method involves a bit more work, but it’s up to you.
- Bake for 11 minutes (for drops) or 12 – 15 minutes (for the sheet). If you made drops, then you’re done. Let them fully cool and then store in the jar (the fridge is optimal, but again, if you think they won’t last that long you could probably chance it).
- If you made a sheet, then now you’re going to let it cool just enough to touch, then slice it or cut it into the size of the treats you want. Once done, put them back in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove and store as stated above.
Note: not every cat will eat or enjoy these. Cats aren’t dogs- they won’t just eat anything & everything.
Now, for the jar! If you’re planning on gifting a cat parent with some homemade treats for Christmas, you’re gonna want to put ’em in a cute storage container, amirite?
All you need is:
- super glue
- a small cat figurine (mine I’ve had since childhood, you can get them on Amazon or in craft stores)
- a mason jar or old spaghetti sauce/pickle/glass mayonnaise jar with a lid
- spray paint in any color/texture of your choice (I used Krylon CoverMaster in “Mambo Pink” gloss)
Make sure your jar is totally clean. Let it soak overnight with some bleach. Then wash it out thoroughly again, the lid too, or sanitize in the dishwasher. We don’t want any odors infringing themselves onto the treats! If you’re using a brand new jar, these steps aren’t necessary.
Let’s talk glue. You want a super glue that dries fast and easily, like KrazyGlue. DO NOT USE Gorilla Glue, unless you use the fast drying, thin version. You do NOT want the one that puffs up to 5 times it’s size, trust me. If you’re using a regular Ball jar like I did, with a two-piece lid, first you have to glue the two lid pieces together. A small ring of glue on the inside of the band is all you need. Pop the lid into it and wait a few minutes. Then turn it over and glue your cat figure on top.
Wait for it to dry completely, then you’re ready to paint!
Take it outside, put it on paper, and spray it with a thin coat. Let that dry, and do another. Depending on the color of your cat figure/lid and your paint, you might need a few coats. Once you’re done let it dry for 24 hours before adding it to the jar. The paint I used has primer in it, so I didn’t need one. If you’re using a dark figure and want to use light (or white) paint, make sure you get one with primer built in or you use a primer first.
You can add a label or paw print stickers to the jar, too, if you want. Customize it! It’s your creation! If you’re a cat owner yourself, why not make an entire set of different sized jars and store treats, toys and dry food in them? If you have a small dog, you can do the same thing but with little dog figures. Large dogs, like our Indy require very, very large treat containers, haha.
Once the lid is 100% dry and not tacky at all, add your treats to the jar, pop the lid on and voila! Instant cat-lover Christmas gift. Or birthday gift. Or a “Welcome Home new kitty” gift. And the best part is that when the homemade treats are gone, they can use the jar for any other treats, or even small cat toys. Or, you can tie a fancy printed recipe on the jar with pretty ribbon so they can make some themselves.
Go forth and enjoy your treats, little felines of the world!
Okay, so now for those of you sticking around, the backstory: on August 29,
my mom’s our cat of 13 years passed away from kidney failure. It was sudden, it was sad, it was horrible. She went from being fine to being very sick in a matter of three days. We were heartbroken. I say she was my mom’s cat, but really she started off as mine- I adopted Arwyn when I was 21 and single, a college student. My 17-year-old childhood cat, Tigger, had to be put to sleep (complications from diabetes) at the time, and I wasn’t there when it happened- I was at work. I was haunted by this and sad with an empty house so a few weeks later I insisted we get another cat. Which we did, and I named her Arwyn (not because I’m a Tolkien fan, but because she looked like a little black elf). My mother and her immediately bonded, and I basically became her “sister” or “baby sitter” more than her “cat-mom.” The two of them were like frick and frack; she’d follow my mom around like a dog, and during my mother’s cancer treatments and surgeries, Arwyn was her little bed buddy, her morning coffee partner, etc. I moved in with Jay and we had adopted Indy; my mother threatened me with bodily harm if I even thought of taking Arwyn anywhere with me. Which I wouldn’t, because I knew they were incredibly close.
Needless to say, she was devastated at the sudden illness and subsequent rough decision. So was I. So was Jay- it was a shock. She was so, so, so upset, and was having such a hard time with it. And then one night I dragged her into Petco with me and she fell in love. With a little all-white cat in one of the cages that was up for adoption (Arwyn was all-black). Her name was Snowflake and she rubbed right up against our hands, purring.
Snowflake has had it rough. She was rescued from a town kill shelter and adopted out to a married couple who had 9 cats and when they divorced, she was was given up (I believe they all were) after 9 months of being with them. She ended up being adopted out again to a family who had a dog, only to find out she’s not good with dogs, so back she went. Turns out, like I mentioned, she’s hard of hearing (not surprising- she’s all white, that’s very common in white cats) and that’s probably why she has such a hard time with other pets. So we went and adopted her as a surprise for my mom, and now she has a proper home with a caring (and crazy) family who make her homemade cat treats and force her to pose for pictures.
Also, it’s fitting that today is Remember Me Thursday. What does that mean? It’s a remembrance of all the shelter animals who lost their lives without getting homes this year, and also to bring awareness to all those animals STILL in shelters needing homes. Over 3.4 MILLION animals will die in shelters this year. And only 30% of the pets in U.S. households come from shelters/rescues. Why? Shelter pets are beautiful, wonderful animals filled with love. They aren’t just discarded leftovers. Indy is a rescue, Snowflake is a rescue, all my pets have been either strays or rescues. So what can you do? Well, if you can open your heart and home to a new member of the family from a shelter, that’s ideal! Go visit your local ASPCA or town animal shelter and pick one- or let them pick you. If not (or if you already have adopted family member[s]) then you can light a candle today. Either an actual candle in your home, a battery operated one in your window, or you can go to RememberMeThursday.org and light a virtual candle. You can also post a picture on social media of you, your pets, or even a picture of your candle lit and use the hashtag #LightForPets. And even better? Make a donation by buying a memorial Remember Me Thursday pin or just make a donation to a local animal rescue or shelter in memory of all the pets who never got the homes they deserve.
Also- if you’re a pet owner, be responsible. Do not let your cats out, and if you MUST (which you really don’t) please make sure they are spayed/neutered. Make sure your dogs are as well, and don’t contribute to the big enough problem of unwanted or stray pets by allowing them to breed. Remember, a pet is for life. Not just until you have a baby or move. Be a hero and save lives by being a responsible pet owner.