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In the Kitchen With: Joy the Baker’s Crunchy Cat Treats

by Kristina Gill

Usually we only do human food on the column, but in honor of this month’s pets and family theme, we are bringing you a cat treat recipe by Joy the Baker. I am pretty sure humans can eat this, too. Hey, they’re gluten-free! Though maybe without the catnip . . . but I’ll leave that to your discretion! These homemade treats for cats are healthy and a crowd pleaser, as you can tell from the photo. If you don’t have a cat, they would make a great gift for any friends with cats and probably dogs because I’m pretty sure my dog would eat these! — Kristina

About Joy: Joy Wilson is the voice behind the popular blog, JoytheBaker.com. She is a baker, food photographer, writer and curator of all things sweet. Since beginning her website five years ago, JoytheBaker.com has been named one of the 50 Best Food Blogs by the London Times, Eight of the Very Best Food Blogs by Forbes and the Best Baking Blog by Saveur. Joy’s first cookbook, the Joy the Baker Cookbook, is an unabashed celebration of butter and sugar. Joy is also co-creator of Homefries.com, a growing site dedicated to lifestyle audio and video podcasts. Joy lives in Venice, California, with her monstrous cat, Jules, an admirable collection of nail polish and a refrigerator full of butter.

See how to make your own cat treats after the jump . . .

Crunchy Tuna Cat Treats
Makes about 3 dozen treats

  • 1 (5 ounce) can tuna, no salt added and packed in water, drained
  • 1 cup oat flour*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried catnip


*It’s easy to make your own oat flour. Simply grind old-fashioned oats in a spice grinder (or a super clean coffee grinder) until it is transformed into a light powder. There you have it — oat flour!

1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, combine drained tuna, oat flour, egg, olive oil and catnip. Blend until mixture is smooth. It will be thick but pliable and not terribly sticky.

3. Roll dough into 1/2 teaspoon balls and place on prepared cookie sheet. Use a skewer to press an X-shape into each cookie ball.

4. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until they are dried on top and slightly browned. Allow to cool completely before offering to your kitty.

5. Place treats in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

Photos and Recipe: Joy Wilson
Styling Assistance: Paola Parsons
Cat Credit: His name is Jules, but I call him TRON because TRON is a more appropriate name for the monster that he is.

Why Joy Loves Making These Treats for Jules, aka Tron

As much as my cat begs for a bite of my burrito, I know that my cat shouldn’t eat like I do. Their systems don’t know what to do with black beans and flour tortillas. These crunchy cat treats honor the simple, meat-driven diet that helps my cat thrive. Tuna is a simple, salt-free protein, and oat flour is easier on the system than corn or wheat-based thickeners. My cat looses his mind for catnip, and just a sprinkling in each treat seals the deal. Really though, I had my cat’s attention as soon as I opened the can of tuna.

Suggested For You


  • Yeah, my unusual cat doesn’t go for tuna OR catnip OR people food. Except once when she licked the bottom of a bowl of curried butternut squash soup clean. Oh well. Those jars are adorable and carving out a cat stamp is I the agenda this weekend, so thanks d*sfor these ideas :)

  • I can not wait to make these for my cat. There are all sorts of dog treat recipes out there, but I’ve never seen a cat treat recipe. I’m so excited. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Not sure I can find tuna without added salt, although my cat doesn’t like human intended tuna only the crap Fancy Feast calls tuna pate. I might be willing to try this as I’m sure it is better for her than Meow Mix cat treats. Can we freeze these as long as we defrost them thoroughly before offering to our cherished purring fur persons?

  • So cute! I don’t feed my cat anything with grains though…most cats have a corn sensitivity and owners don’t’ realize it since grocery store cat kibble has a bunch of binders in it to make their stool solid.
    But I used to make treats for my doggies all the time! Peanut butter and banana based with oats. They loved them!

    Sorry for the weird pet owner TMI. I love the jars!

  • Read about these treats on Joy’s website, but so glad I clicked over to see this adorable picture of Jules with his paw in the treat jar!!!

  • Kyra, my two cats go absolutely crazy for squash, pumpkin, and sweet potato! Fall cooking and Halloween pumpkin carving are a challenge as those fiends go after pumpkin guts…

  • I wonder if the ‘dough’ could be frozen so that one could make a larger batch, only baking the amount needed for the one week. Any thoughts?

    They sound like any kitty would be in seventh heaven. Thanks.

  • More of a question – do you see any problems with leaving the catnip out? I have one cat that likes it, one that doesn’t. Thinking I could split the batch – with and without.

  • for dogs there are various recipes on the Internet and in library books. you can try this one:

    Basic Dog Biscuits
    These basic biscuits can be customized to cater to your canine’s palette
    • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour (substitute regular flour or oats if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
    • 1 tsp. salt (or less)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp. Beef or chicken Bouillon granules (can substitute beef or chicken broth/stock)
    • ½ cup hot water
    Optional Add ins
    • Bacon or chicken broth, eggs, oats, liver powder, wheat germ, shredded cheese, bacon bits
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Dissolve bouillon in hot water
    3. Add remaining ingredients
    4. Knead dough until it forms a ball (approximately 3 minutes)
    5. Roll dough until ½ inch thick
    6. Cut into slices or bone shapes (you can purchase a bone shaped cookie cutter to make shapes with)
    7. Place dough pieces on lightly greased cookie sheet
    8. Cook for 30 minutes

    Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/dogcare/nutrition/Recipe-Ideas-for-Quick-and-Healthy-Homemade-Dog-Treats#ixzz2N0ZUdFZk

  • You guys do know that grains are awful for cats and that tuna are being fished to extinction, right?

    A better recipe would substitute the flour for something like 4:1 ratio freeze dried meat and bone meal, and canned chicken instead of tuna. Better for your cat, better for the planet.

  • Oh, thank you! So many recipes for dog treats out there, but rarely one for the kitties. So much love and thought put into this with the criss-cross on the biscuits, the cute jars. Just in time for my cats’ birthdays. :)

  • These are not gluten free – oats contain gluten. They might have less gluten than if you used wheat flour, but these are NOT gluten free.

  • negative nancy – atlantic bluefin tuna is being fished to extinction, but the tuna in most cans is either albacore or skipjack. These are different species, which are generally doing OK. It is great to be conscientious about seafood choices, as overfishing is a huge issue, but there is a lot of misinformation out there. You can get more information about which fish you should avoid at http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

  • Louisa, oats are gluten-free, and naturally so. However, they are often processed on the same machinery as wheat, thereby contaminating the oats with wheat residue. Some companies, like Bob’s Red Mill, have built separate processing facilities to produce uncontaminated oats. The label will clearly say, gluten-free.

  • Look at his fluffy ickle feet ! What a beautiful kitty.
    Will be giving these a go for my two <3 .
    Clearly I need to make the jars too to keep them in :)

  • I just made these for my two cats.. they were all over the kitchen the second I popped open the tuna, and didn’t leave me alone until the treats were cooled and ready to eat :) They are currently very happily nibbling them up.

    Notes: I just made oat flour by putting some oats in the food processor for a bit first to get the floury consistency. This recipe also made 50 treats, which is far more than they’ll be getting in the next 7 days :) I’m planning on freezing some, and giving some away.

  • 3 cats. no takers. a miserable failure…. cats went crazy for the tuna until it was in the treats… do u have a recipe for anything that a cats that’s actually palatable???

  • Unfortunately, my two cats don’t like tuna at all! I tried anyway, substituting the flour with Teff Flour (an ancient grain from Ethiopia) mixed with Amaranth Flour and Brown Rice Flour (1/3 each). They look very much like the picture above. But, no, neither cat would even try them. I’ll take them to the emergency animal hospital near me with an ingredient list and donate the cat treats for their ill animals.

  • @Louisa You can definitely get Gluten-Free Oats and Oats Flour at your local store so the recipe may BE Gluten-Free if you wish.

  • I make dog treats for my 2 dogs and they love em so I’m Definitely going to give these a go 3 questions sorry to be a bit stupid when you say oats is it your bog standard porridge oats I have some mornflake medium oatmeal stoneground is that ok and are they freezable :) and lastly where can I get those jars from there awesome!!

  • I’ve found that you can use garbanzo bean flour. It’s gluten free, and not wheat based. Ive used it in dog treats for dogs with allergies and had great success!

  • Can you share the link for the plastic cats toys? I can’t find them bulk? I see every other mini animal. I’m making them to put favors for my wedding. We are donating the favor money to our local cat charity. And thought a cat themed treat would be cute as a consultation :0)

  • For the cat jars it looks like she took small cat figurines and glued them to the lid, she then painted the lid and cat figurines the same color. I need to get some cat figurines so I can do the same thing! Love it!

  • 2/3 of my cats will eat almost anything. One time my cat tried eating my breakfast! They definitely do love catnip. I’m not sure about tuna but I’m pretty sure they will love them! They seem fun to make too!

  • Hello… where did you get the plastic cat toys? Too cute!! I’m going to try to make these treats over the weekend. I’ll update on how much Mr. Kitty enjoyed them.

  • These treats look amazing! I am sure my clan will devour them!
    I am interested in purchasing the jars. Where are they available?

  • I somehow ended up with 4 garbage gut cats over the last few years. These cats will eat EVERYTHING!!! If my dog doesn’t finish his breakfast before the two youngest do, they take over ( even though they’re both the size of his poop!! Haha) i also have a lot of clients (im a dog walker) who actually have cats. Thinking of making them and my garbage guts some of these… but for my cats I’ll probably add mashed green beans and or carrots.. maybe some greens. They always steal my food off my plate when im not lookingeven the veggies!! Thanks for the recipe!! :)

  • My cat was taking the raw treats right off the cookie sheet while we were waiting for the oven to heat up. This are fantastic! My cat is not very picky… if it is food she eats it. But she LOVES these! Thank you for sharing them!

  • Thank you so much for this recipe!

    I can’t wait to try these and maybe even try them with a few different types of meats like fresh boiled chicken, etc. The thought is that I can just prepare an extra serving of plain meat when I go to prepare meat for my husband and I. The extra meat would be for the cat treats. It would be so much healthier and less expensive than purchasing treats from the store! :)

  • 2 of our 3 kitties liked these, but they were too soft for them to keep in their mouth and actually get them down. I even made them smaller and baked them for the max time (and our oven always overcooks). So then I cut them into quarters and broiled them, then let them dry out for about an hour. That seemed to help a lot.

  • my pussy was asleep when I baked these, but man did she perk up when she smelled them come out of the oven. I couldn’t see the tray for pussy mayhem. Thanks

  • Hello,

    We have two egyptian maus and they are very picky about their treats. The only ones that they will eat is the greenies, with the soft center, and when I run out, they beg me for them at night time, and when I don’t have them, the male kitty will get destructive and start tearing things up around the house or take his anger out on his small sister, my question is can you fill these with a soft center like a tuna paste or some other fish paste.

  • These worked very well! I added some fish stock aswell as tuna (no catnip though) and my cats loved them! But they were a bit on the big side and were soft centred so the cats found it hard to eat a whole one but quartered and then baked for another 7 mins sorted out the problem! Since they were so successful I made another batch of chicken ones, substituting the fish stock with a chicken one and aswell as off cuts of chicken in the mixture I cubed the pieces and left a chunk in the middle of each cookie! They looked great but I used freezerbags to store so not quite as cute as your jars^^ thanks!

  • One of my cats has to be grain free, so I used coconut flour instead and since they love tuna with pumpkin, I added pumpkin to it instead of catnip + a bit of homemade stock. They just love it! They were stealing the raw dough from the tray :)

  • Hello! I was wondering what the shelf life of these treats are? Do they need to be refrigerated or can they stay out? Any other information about the storage process of these treats would be very helpful! I like to make large batches so I don’t have to keep making treats :) Thanks so much, Alyssa

    • Oat flour is easy to make. Just grind oats in a coffee/spice grinder. I found one for cheap at a thrift store and just cleaned the coffee odor out well./\

  • Made your treats. They were nice after baking. When stored in airtight container in fridge they were no longer crispy. Do I have to store in fridge. Other recipe ‘ s with similar ingredients do not require refrigeration.

  • Just made a batch for my ibd cat. Added pumpkin and used coconut flour and egg yolk. He’s in heaven, thanks! And I used canned salmon because he doesnt tolerate tuna well.

  • Little LuLu as well as giant Periwinkle-Muffins McGhee (that’s what happens when you let three kids name a cat!) are going to love these tasty nibbles! Thank you for sharing ?

  • I just finished making these up and then are in the oven. It was very easy to make and my bangel cat is curious and so are my other two cats. I can’t wait till they are done baking :-D

  • I have just found your recipe which sounds great, I am a true baker, and I just got a rescue cat, My last cat was my baby fo 17 years. I love my new cat but he’ll never be my Mr. Quigely. My new cat’s name is Flash, I give hiim the Friskies Temptations, he loves them,but he swallows the whole. I try holding them so he at least get some of the soft filling. When I read your recipe I was really thrilled. I’m gonna go for it on Monday. Does anyone eles have the problem of them just swallowing them down. I mean he loves to chase them,
    but there they go right down his throat square sharp edges and all. If there is someone out there that has the same problem, Please email me,baker.deb444@gmail.com Thank you Megan!

    • Cats are obligate carnivores= (only designed to eat meat) as such, their teeth are not designed for chewing.

  • I’d really like to know where u bought or how u made those mason jars w the kitty on top the lids? lol thank you & THX for recipe, my Taz Mania Devil can’t wait to try um Lari & Taz

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