Sunday, October 28, 2012

Making Cat Treats at Home

You do all you can to keep your cats healthy and happy. You switch off of that dry kibble, get them eating home made, make sure they have checkups when needed, enrich their environment and play with them daily. You do all that and there is still that hangover from the past, Treats!

Come on and be honest. They love them. You like to give them something special. They like it, you like them being happy, on and on.

I decided to try and figure out something else. I researched Freeze-Dry. Nice but Expensive. I even bought freeze dried salmon treats to try out. Not a success. They look odd too. They were expensive.

I figured let me try Dehydrating food. I bought a nice Nesco American Harvest food Dehydrator and Jerky Maker on Amazon.

From my minimal research I got a model with the fan on top and right out of the box I noted it is well made. It came with a jerky gun so I am ready to make all kinds of things for the cats and myself.

I got a half pound of shrimp and a pound of chicken breast for the cats. I got a pound of 95% lean ground beef for myself.

There is a recipe for cat treats in the booklet that comes with everything. I got 1/2 pound of larger shrimp as they were on sale. The recipe calls for those tiny canned shrimp. I added a pinch of catnip and started the machine. Here are the shrimp after about 2 hours at 140 degrees.
21-30 per pound shrimp with a pinch of catnip
They were a bit moist in the middle while the outside was very crisp. I think the smaller shrimp would be better or cutting the larger in half lengthwise. We need to experiment.

I cooked a pound of chicken breast as this is a good low fat treat. I put it in the dryer overnight at about 140 degrees. Here it is.
Chicken Breast
As with the shrimp they were a bit slow eating the chicken. I called every cat into the kitchen for a treat. This is where we have our morning snack so they all came running. I put out a bit in each of their bowls and as with the shrimp they took a minute to examine this new food and then it was gone.

It was a bit dry. I had this on about 10 hours at 140 degrees. I will try 8 hours next time. The instructions say it takes a bit of time to learn what you like and it will take a bit of experimentation.

Here is the Ground Meat I made for myself. You take a pound of low fat meat and add the flavoring along with the preservative. The Jerky Gun worked like a caulking gun. I was surprised at how easy it was. You lay out a line of meat and use a knife to clip the meat at the end of a squirt. It may have a bit much sodium to use for treats so that is yet to be decided.
95% Lean Ground Meat with Seasoning.
They came out after 5-6 hours at 150 degrees. They look just like Slim Jims. Taste like them too. Maybe a bit less spicy. Much better than I thought they would be. I have been looking for something to replace the hard candy so this may be it.

I tried a bit with Rumpy and Mr B. They were not interested so I cleaned the machine which was a simple matter. Just use a brush and some water and detergent in a bowl. Dip and brush, dip and brush, rotate, dip and brush, repeat for each level, rinse, done in five minutes. So I turn back to pick up the... nothing there. The old "No I do not want that but do not turn your back." cat trick.

So this is a success so far. Some may think it is a bit expensive buying chicken breast or shrimp but have you checked the per pound price for treats?

I think the chew factor is a plus too. They inhale the little dab of dry food they get now. They take a minute to work on the dried food. It may be better for their teeth. I will let you know what I learn about this addition to making our cats food at home.