I once had an extraordinary cat named William.

William had a loud vibrating purr like the engine of a race car. He could climb up and down trees (not like most sissy cats that get stuck.) I would often take William for walks around the block, no leash required. If he strayed to explore some little garden or sniff out another cat, I’d just have to whistle and, like a dog, he’d skip along the sidewalk to rejoin me. He’d even follow me right inside the corner store. That’s how amazing William was.

A friendly cat with a fat lip and penetrating stare, people naturally gravitated to William. I once came out onto my front porch to find a cluster of  habit-wearing nuns tickling William’s belly as he lay sprawled out on the pavement. My neighbours adored him too (he would often sneak into their windows and spend the night– the tramp!) My friend Margo used to take photographs of him and she recently honoured William by making him the very first image on her new photoblog, www.margoducharmephoto.com.

William also had some pretty extraordinary food allergies. Chicken, fish, beef, pork and even wheat  protein were all a big no-no. If he ate the wrong cat food, he would break out into an itchy red rash. After doing some allergy tests, I found out he could only eat potato, peas and alternative proteins like venison and duck.  You can imagine how hard it was finding a cat food brand with just the perfect mix. When I finally found one on the net, the company didn’t deliver to Canada so I had to ship it to a friend in New York and have him smuggle it into Montreal (I called it my “catfood contraband.”) But William was worth the trouble.

In his last years, when he seemed  too thin or no longer enjoying his pea and venison kibble, I could reboot William’s appetite with boiled fresh duck.  I swear it prolonged his life another two years.

My point is: Sometimes special creatures need special food.  Whether they’re celiac or lactose intolerant or just prefer not to eat meat, feeding them what they need and what’s good for them is a form of love.

Super Simple Gluten-Free Peanut Cookies

Here’s a recipe designed for two of my favourite dietary-challenged human cats; Steve who has IBS and can’t eat egg yolks and diary, and Don, who’s celiac. Despite the fact that it’s dairy and gluten-free, this is my favourite peanut butter cookie.  (The recipe is adapted from Don’s mother, Cathy, a terrific gluten-free cook, especially when it comes to desserts.)

1 cup smooth natural peanut butter  (Cathy liked to use regular Skippy but I like natural)
2 tablespoon potato flakes ( this produces a crumblier cookie, for a chewier cookie, use 1 tbspn one or even none)
2/3 – 1 cup sugar (I use 2/3, and if you used processed peanut butter, less is also better)
1 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites beaten until stiff
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional– for Steve’s IBS, I used vanilla bean because he’d react to the extract)

Mix ingredients until thick and chunky. Roll into balls onto cookie sheet and press down with fork. Bake in 350 degree oven for fifteen-twenty minutes or until bottom starts to brown.  Let cookies sit for ten to fifteen minutes, they firm up upon cooling. Yummy for everyone,  with or without food allergies.  As an option, you can sprinkle a little coarse sea salt on top of the cookie before going into the oven. It gives the cookie an extra salty kick and a pretty sparkly accent.  Makes 20 cookies approx, depending on size of your cookies.


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