Nov 28 2009

Confessions of a Cat Chef

Published by at 9:50 pm under Tidings from Gabriola Island

LuciFur at play with her toysI have never, ever wanted to cook for our three cats. My husband, Doug, is the self-appointed chef in our household. But after our jet-black feline, LuciFur, was temporarily paralyzed from the “waist” down by the mercury in cat tuna, I decided to take action. It was time to abandon processed cat food for homemade.

With three picky eaters, creating the “purr-fect” dish was going to be a challenge.  However, my first creation—chicken livers pureed in chicken broth—was an instant hit. Sunday after Sunday, we cleaned out the entire chicken liver supply at our island grocery store, went home and mixed up another batch. Curious customers in the checkout line asked if we were making pâté. Our cats loved it. I thought I was a genius … until they started vomiting, and LuciFur’s hind end collapsed. Frantically, we Googled for answers and discovered that we’d poisoned our cats—again!—this time with a toxic overdose of vitamin A from too much liver.

Chastened, I found some proven cat food recipes on the Web. Touted as being well-balanced, nutritious and tasty, they combined such wholesome ingredients as ground beef, ground chicken, oatmeal, rice, green beans and carrots. I was in a frenzy, whipping up large quantities for the freezer, reminiscent of my days as new mother when I made all my own baby food and froze it in individual ice cube trays. The cats enthusiastically devoured each new dish.  I was elated. No more cat food tins to recycle: we were green, sustainable, responsible.

The euphoria was short lived. By day two, they wouldn’t touch any of my gourmet creations. I was a cat chef failure! Back we went to stocking hundreds of tiny cans of Fancy Feast liver and chicken, the only brand and flavor that Pussicle, the fussiest of our felines, would dependably eat.

As the months passed, I began to experiment again, introducing different human foods to Kali-gee, the most adventurous eater of the three. I discovered that she loves dairy, especially yogurt and cream cheese. When she bolted down some leftover tomato pasta sauce with parmesan cheese, a light went on. I had found the secret: salt … and parmesan cheese.

So now my freezer is full once more, with my latest creation: a purée of ground chicken and chicken livers (just a few, for taste and texture), carrots and rice (Doug’s special whole-grain basmati and brown rice mix, no less!). Before serving, I add hot water, stir till creamy, sprinkle with salt and parmesan cheese—and voilà, another success.

It’s day three and the cats are still gobbling it up. Except for Pussicle, of course. He will still only eat Fancy Feast liver and chicken. If, by day four, they reject my homemade effort again, I don’t care. Doug and I tasted it. It’s definitely the best pâté I’ve ever made … and I’ve got a year’s supply. I think we’ll serve it at our next dinner party.

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