A few years ago my husband and I were preparing our first Thanksgiving dinner together. It was the first year we bypassed our respective families’ big celebrations and started our own traditions with our own family — our cat and our friends.
We giddily gathered ingredients the week before, with only a few minor snafus. Well, okay, actually one major snafu. My darling husband, then boyfriend, who was charged with procuring the turkey, left it in the trunk of his station wagon for more than 24 hours. It was discovered only when a friend of ours climbed into his car, sniffed, and inquired as to the peculiar odor permeating the vehicle.
Car-turkey aside, our Thanksgiving preparations went smoothly, and we awoke on the morning of the big day excited and ready to cook. We spent the entire day rolling dough for pies, mashing potatoes, and lovingly wrapping the turkey in bacon (I don’t eat meat anymore, but it’s my mom’s “recipe,” and from what I remember it’s startlingly good). Throughout the day, our kitty Brandy meowed at our feet hoping for a fallen scrap to go unnoticed.
As dinner time neared, boyfriend asked me to feed Brandy while he put the finishing touches on the cherry pie. I walked to the pantry to get Brandy a can of cat food, but something felt wrong. It didn’t feel right to be simply popping open a can for our sweet little kitty while the rest of the family feasted.
Thinking fast, I grabbed a can of tuna, some kitty kibble, and a few errant pieces of turkey breast that had already been sliced. I mushed together some of the tuna with the turkey, then garnished it with a few bits of kibble. It was ugly, but Brandy was beside herself.
The Tuna Turkey was born.
Since then, I’ve made it a point to prepare this DIY Tuna Turkey every year. Having learned more about cat nutrition over the years, the Tuna Turkey has evolved to a point where I feel like it’s not only a treat for kitty, but it’s also healthy (in moderation). It’s definitely not something I’d serve to my cat more than once or twice a year, much like our own Thanksgiving gorge-fests with us humans. But on those special occasions, the Tuna Turkey is a fun treat to whip up just for your cat.
So here you go! Here is my latest Tuna Turkey recipe. Happy cooking!
- One to two ounces (dry) of The Honest Kitchen’s “Grace” dehydrated turkey cat food.
- One can of tuna in water (I chose one that comes in a BPA-free can).
- One tablespoon plain pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling). I like “Nummy Tum-Tum” Organic, 100% Pure Pumpkin “For All Your Pets”. It’s just pumpkin, nothing else, and the can boasts a BPA free liner.
- A few strips of skinless turkey breast.
- A handful of ZiwiPeak Air-Dried “Daily-Cat” Cuisine, protein of your choice. I chose the Venison and Fish flavor. If you don’t want to invest an entire bag, most pet stores that carry this food will also have sample baggies for free.
- Real Meat Company’s Mixed Meat Pet Food Seasoning. I had on the “BioticBoost” kind on hand, I find the Probiotics really help with digestion.
In a clean bowl, pour out the amount of “Grace” you have elected to use. I used about 1/4 of a 4oz travel-sized box. If you are preparing multiple Tuna Turkeys, or you want to make a BIG Tuna Turkey, you can most certainly use more. Leftovers are okay, as the food will keep in the fridge for a couple days after rehydration. We always have leftovers, I can’t imagine feeding the whole turkey to my cat in one sitting.
Open the can of tuna, and drain all the tuna liquid into the “Grace.” Then put about 1/3 of the tuna meat into the mix. I used to use mostly, if not all tuna for the turkey, but now I’m not so wild about giving my older cat so much tuna. As long as there is some tuna texture and taste, she doesn’t seem to miss it.
Add in the pumpkin puree and mix. I find that the tuna water and the pumpkin puree makes a nice “stiff” consistency in which to shape the turkey, but if you need more or less moisture, you can alter the amount of pumpkin you add, or add in a small amount of water (NOTE: The Honest Kitchen foods get soupy pretty easily, so if you choose to add water, do so sparingly).
I like adding pumpkin because it helps keep kitty’s stomach happy in case the Tuna Turkey is too much of a good thing. I’ve actually never had that problem, but better safe than sorry.
Add in three or four shakes of the Real Meat Seasoning. It’s a mixed meat air-dried pet food topper that smells just like beef jerky. It really helps spice up the Tuna Turkey! Plus it’s got Diatomaceous Earth in it, in case parasites are a concern.
Mix up the ingredients to lumpy, dough consistency. You want it to be stiff enough to mold, so don’t over mix! You should be able to tip your mixing spoon upside down and it won’t fall off. Add in more “Grace” if it’s too runny.
Time to get your hands dirty! Scoop a portion of the mixture onto a clean plate and shape it into the closest semblance of a Thanksgiving turkey you can muster. I’m no sculptor, but my cat has never seemed to care.
Take a few small pieces of the skinless turkey — you don’t need much — and artfully arrange it on the turkey shape. I use the turkey pieces to make tail feathers and wings.
Place the little bits of ZiwiPeak “jerky” on the Tuna Turkey to create a “golden brown skin”. Okay fine, it looks a little like scales, but the kitties love it.
I’d highly recommend not letting your cat eat the entire Tuna Turkey. It’s pretty rich, what with the tuna, “Grace”, turkey bits, and ZiwiPeak. Just like you, your kitty can enjoy leftovers in the days to come. Just make sure you store your Tuna Turkey in an air tight container in the fridge.
If you decide to give the Tuna Turkey a try this year, I hope you and your cat enjoys it as much as mine does.