Cook up some treats for your feline companion
With ingredients such as squash, carrots, green beans and chicken, the recipes Liz Palika whips up seem quite ordinary. More likely it's the way she combines ingredients that might give a human pause. For instance, take a dish called Frozen Tuna Cow. Yogurt and Tuna? Together? Blecch.
"The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook: Homemade Goodies for Finicky Felines"
by Liz Palika
(Howell Book House, $14.99)
Well, Palika's treats were never meant for human consumption, anyway. Her recipes have been tested and approved by the pickiest of critics: felines and their veterinarians.
Gourmet recipes for pets might sound cute and quirky -- although a bit time-consuming -- but the San Diego-based resident's priority is more on caring for a pet's health.
The nearly 50 recipes in "The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook: Homemade Goodies for Finicky Felines" use wholesome and natural ingredients, devoid of preservatives. There are crunchy treats, catnip-filled goodies and soft treats filled with beef, turkey or other meats. And yes, she has alternative recipes for cats who have trouble digesting corn or are allergic to wheat or milk. (Even most lactose-intolerant cats can digest goat's milk, a staple of Palika's recipes. Try feeding half a teaspoon to your feline to rule out a reaction, suggests Palika.)
A pet writer by profession, Palika has authored more than 50 books for pet owners and articles for magazines such as Newsweek, the Saturday Evening Post, Cat Fancy and Dog World. Her latest book came about as a companion piece to the "The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook," developed two years for her three dogs.
COURTESY HOWELL BOOK HOUSE
Recipes in Liz Palika's book are geared toward caring for a pet's health and use natural ingredients.
The eldest in her pack -- a 12-year-old Australian shepherd -- has a congenital liver disease.
"I basically wanted to take control of my pet's health," Palika said. "He never did well as a puppy with commercial foods, and most of the commercial dog treats were off limits."
Not ones to be left out, her five cats -- all rescues -- also wanted a taste of the recipes she was working up from scratch.
"I would be testing recipes for my dogs, and the cats would be meowing, waving at me with their paws. Initially I was a little skeptical about the cats' cravings, knowing how picky cats can be, but they kept at it. Actually, there aren't a whole lot of ingredients that cats can't eat."
Palika is quick to emphasize that treats should make up no more than 10 percent of a cat's daily diet. Creations that need refrigeration will last up to two weeks or can be frozen for up to four months.
Taste testers for the "The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook" included not only the pets she shares with her husband of 32 years, but those of her neighborhood friends and in the cattery at her local humane society.
The hands-down favorite? "Well, I know it sounds awful, but the Frozen Tuna Cow was really a big hit. Cats are kind of all over the map as far as what they like. But for the vast majority of cats, it's all about the stronger smells -- tuna, salmon. The looks don't matter. How it looks is really more for us."