Making tasty treats for finicky felines means knowing what your cat loves

Since my story a few weeks ago about homemade dog biscuits, I’ve been eager to serve up treats to my cat and write this next article. Several recipes I’ve found have used canned tuna (a favorite of Luna and Sissy) as a base, and I think she’ll be very happy. Hahaha.

Cats are notorious for being very tough, and I’ve never had any “candy” before: in their world, there’s wet food, food, and occasional creatures (small lizards, big crickets and, unfortunately, random hummingbirds). Deciding not to like my first attempt, they beat the “bonuses” and walked away.

Apparently, more research was needed.

Some cats get upset about how much they eat and may not like anything too big. When I broke my candy into smaller, pea-sized pieces, they ate it with caution. But when you are presented with the option of store-bought or homemade sweets … well, you know what happened.

Back to the drawing board: “Kitty Pavlova,” a simple but delicious two-ingredient one, looked promising (and easy) and was met with unrestrained enthusiasm by connoisseurs. Should I ever want to once again lure my cats with treats, this is the direction I’m going. See below for a recipe.

The best meat to use for treating cats is… well, trust us, they will let you know.
The best meat to use for treating cats is… well, trust us, they will let you know.

But as I found recipes more and more complex, I had to wonder, why bother? My cats don’t care about “pleasing me,” and I don’t try to train them. They – like me, ahem – don’t need snacks between meals. what is the point?

Philosophical ideas aside, if you want to make treats for your feline friends, start with a protein like canned tuna in water, canned or cooked chicken or their favorite canned cat food; Freshly cooked fish is too flaky to hold together. Add an egg and some type of binder: sheets of gelatin (not jelly!), cornmeal, or powdered milk.

Feeling creative? Try adding some mantica Or other animal fats, beef or chicken, unsalted bone broth, or dried bonito flakes if you can find them at an Asian food store. Some cats also like greens like cilantro or spinach. Others like to eat catnip.

Since cats are more difficult than dogs, your knowledge of the things they actually like to eat should be your guide. My cat, for example, would happily eat cornflakes if allowed, so using cornmeal as a binder makes sense.

Having said that, I figured out my limits: If I wanted to give Luna and Cece a special treat, I’d stick with a fork full of canned tuna or some leftover chicken nuggets. Your cats will tell you what suits them.

This treat is a delicacy for even the most discerning feline palates.
This treat is a delicacy for even the most discerning feline palates.

Kitty Pavlova

This will very likely work with canned cat food as well. If you try it, let me know!

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 5 oz. Can packaged tuna in water, fully drained, or 1 5 oz. You can cook chicken or ½ cup shredded cooked chicken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place parchment paper on an oven tray. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, chop and mash the tuna or chicken as finely as possible.

Add 2 tablespoons of beaten egg whites to the tuna/chicken; Mix well so that there are no lumps. Gently add the remaining egg white.

Cover or spread the mixture in strips about ½ inch wide and ¼ inch high on a baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes until the texture is dry and just beginning to turn brown along the edges. Cool, then break into pieces. Store in airtight jars for up to a month.

Using a pastry bag makes soft mixtures easier to spread on the baking sheet
Using a pastry bag makes soft mixtures easier to spread on the baking sheet

EZ Kitty Treats

  • 1 can food cats
  • Optional: a pinch of catnip

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a parchment paper with cookie sheet. Stir the catnip and canned foods together to get a mousse-like consistency.

Put the mixture into a Ziploc bag, cut out a small corner and use it like a pastry bag to make small, evenly spaced dots on the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Take it out of the oven. (The mixture will be a little soft.)

Once cool, roll the half-baked mixture into small quarter-inch balls.

Store in an airtight container.

An optional addition to this tuna biscuit is a perennial favorite: catnip
An optional addition to tuna biscuits is a perennial favorite: catnip

tuna biscuits

  • 1 5 oz. Tuna can be packed in water, and drained well
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons. Corn flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. Dry milk
  • Optional: 1 tsp. catnip

Preheat oven to 400°F, combine everything in a bowl and mix until cookie dough comes together.

Pinch into small bite-size pieces (about 1/4 teaspoon each) or press thin layers the size of a graham cracker onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, until firm but not dry. Wonderful.

Break the layers into small pieces. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 10-14 days.

Taste-testing and approval of the cat mom.
Taste-testing and approval of the cat mom.

Don’t Bake Turkey – Pumpkin Kitty Treats

  • ½ cup canned pumpkin (no salt or added sugar)
  • 1 cup cooked turkey or chicken
  • Enough gelatin powder or leaf to set 3 oz. fluid ounces (strength varies, check your gelatin packet for how much to use)
  • Water

Drain the pumpkin in a cotton cloth or tea towel, then wring it out to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Follow the instructions to dissolve the gelatin with water.

Place the meat in a blender or food processor until fine crumbs form.

In a small saucepan, combine meat, pumpkin, and gelatin. Heat gently over low heat – do not boil – add water if necessary to prevent mixture from drying out and sticking. Aim for the consistency of the toothpaste or to be a little thicker. Once gelatin is completely dissolved, remove from heat.

cool about 10 minutes; The mixture will be sticky and smooth.

Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Roll the mixture into pea-sized balls and place on a baking tray. Place in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours, depending on the gelatin.

Once fully set, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Janet Placer has been a writer, editor and storyteller her whole life and feels fortunate to be able to write about great food, great places, amazing people, and unique events. Her first book, Why They Left Us: An Anthology of American Expatriate Women, is available on Amazon. Connect with Janet or read her blog at

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