Dogs will do just about anything for a treat. Cats? Not so much. Even still, it’s nice to have cat treats in your arsenal for birthdays, special occasions (hello, Hug Your Cat Day) or for those moments when your stubborn kitty needs a little extra motivation.
But before you whip up any old DIY cat treats, take a minute to think about your cat’s favorite eats, as well as what’s healthy for them to nibble.
“Homemade cat treats are fairly tricky, in that every cat has his own individual preferences when it comes to food,” says Alana Stevenson, an animal behaviorist and pet trainer. “It’s important that cats have a lot of moisture, so too many grain- or cereal-based foods aren’t particularly good for them.”
“Many store-bought cat treats are heavily processed with a lot of cheap fillers and artificial colors or flavorings,” Stevenson says.
Just remember that some common human foods — including grapes, raisins, onion, salt and chocolate — are toxic to felines if ingested. Before you bake, take some time to read up on all the foods that are dangerous to pets on the ASPCA website.
We rounded up 10 cat treat recipes you can easily make yourself, as your cat quietly judges you. From catnip croutons to tiny tuna hearts, these cat-friendly recipes call for a variety of wholesome ingredients, like cheese, tuna, salmon and even catnip. Now, hit the kitchen and don’t be surprised if a certain kitty tries to counter surf.
1. Cheesy Cat Treats
Feline taste-testers approved of these cheesy, gooey treats from Cowboy Way. They’re made from a combination of cheese, yogurt, flour, cornmeal and water. Flatten the mixture out with a rolling pin and bake like a pizza for 25 minutes, then cut into tiny, cat-friendly squares. If the finished product is firm on the outside and chewy on the inside, you’ve baked yourself some serious bargaining power.
2. Holy Mackerel Cat Treats
Canned mackerel is the main ingredient in this recipe from CDKitchen, which also calls for breadcrumbs, egg, vegetable oil or bacon grease and Brewer’s yeast (said to be packed with vitamins). Mix the ingredients well, place treats one inch apart on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. You’ll get soft, tasty morsels that your cat will want right meow.
3. Fresh-Baked Flour Treats
Start by mashing tuna really well with a fork. Add whole wheat flour and mash some more. Stir in milk, vegetable oil and egg. Use a teaspoon to roll the dough into balls and bake for 10 minutes. If tuna isn’t kitty’s thing, this cat treat recipe from The Nest says it can be substituted with salmon or strained meat baby food in ham, beef or chicken flavors. Add a quarter cup of cheddar to make them even better.
4. Tuna Cat Treats
A food processor will more quickly combine the canned tuna, egg, flour, parsley and water mixture described in this recipe from Mess For Less. It’s a stroke of pure (purr?) genius that they suggest using a bottle cap as a treat-cutter. Pop onto parchment paper and then into the oven for 20 minutes. Cat eyes will widen as they slowly puff up!
5. Catnip Crumbles
Catnip-crazy kitties should be grateful Doggy Dessert Chef took the time to create these crumbles especially for them (instead of canines!) They’re a concoction of ground beef, eggs and catnip that you can serve as a treat or sprinkle over your cat’s regular food. Bake for seven to 10 minutes, and dry any excess fat when they’re done. Refrigeration is required.
6. Kitty Delights
These treats from Serendipity and Spice are like little thumbprint cookies for kitties. This four-ingredient recipe whips up fast and easy. The hardest part is cooking the treats for five minutes on each side. But your cat doesn’t know that, so just tell him you slaved away all day.
7. Too Cute Tuna Hearts
These heart-stenciled treats from Pawesome Cats will make your cat feel loved on Valentine’s Day and beyond. Roll the tuna and catnip-infused dough into balls, flatten slightly and press a heart-shaped stencil into the center of each. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are slightly golden on top. We wish you an Insta-heart for every one you bake.
8. Chewy Bars
You’ll find variations of this chewy treat recipe from Joy the Baker all over the Internet — it’s that good. This tried and true recipe uses baby food or canned wet cat food as a base and includes parsley, rice and flour, baked for about 10 minutes. Clearly, cats have been passing this one down for generations.
9. Chicken or Tuna Crunchers
Pick your protein! Chicken or tuna works just fine in this recipe from Doggy Dessert Chef, which combines a protein with catnip, flour and an egg. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into a grid before placing on a baking sheet and baking for 10 to 13 minutes. Break them into pieces and serve. Don’t forget to refrigerate!
10. Fish and Coconut Croutons
If you have a tendency to overcook things, this is the recipe for you. The tuna catnip croutons from Cookie Rookie are meant to be a bit burnt for added crunch. Simply mix canned tuna, coconut flour, olive oil, water, egg and catnip in a food processor until it has a powdery consistency. Roll into croutons on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 15 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they are dry and brown on top. You can store them in an airtight container for up to a week.