Monday, June 1, 2015

Social Cat Family Like Pepitas

Pepitas are the flat, crunchy green seeds of pumpkins. As a snack they were most popular in Mexico, and, when sold in the U.S., they're usually identified by their Mexican name. What's packaged as "pumpkin seeds" are usually still in their white outer shells, for which I personally don't care. But I do like shelled pepitas, and so do the resident cats at the Cat Sanctuary.
Pepitas have a mild, nutty flavor that I find pleasing with or without salt. The cats like them without salt.

One reason why the cats may enjoy these seeds is that cats and dogs inevitably tend to pick up intestinal parasites, and eating pepitas apparently helps the animals expel these parasites. I'm not an expert, but I have seen scrawny, wormy-looking animals gain strength and weight after they developed a taste for pepitas.

Pepitas also contain vitamins, minerals, and protein, and have a lower fat content than nuts. They can be considered a healthy snack. I hesitate to mention this because I'm turned off any food or drink by any other person trying to tell me that it's "good for me" and suspect other people feel the same way, but pepitas are nutritious for humans or animals.

When I share a pot of rice with the cats, I started mixing in a few pepitas when I didn't have chicken. (Back then I often made a cheap meal of brown rice mixed with a package of ramen noodles, which were of course flavored with meat "extracts.") I learned that some cats liked pepitas and would eat plain rice, mixed with pepitas, without any meat flavoring.

Grandma Bonnie Peters uses pepitas in some of her vegan concoctions; she buys them in bulk and often sends a package of cracked or ground pepitas to the cats. Heather, Irene, and Ivy are pepita enthusiasts.

"The web site hasn't heard from you for a while," I said to GBP. "What do you want to post? What does the web site need?"

She said, "Pumpkin seeds." There's no such thing as a vegan cat, although I have known house cats who lived with Seventh-Day Adventists who ate vegan meals in the house and did their hunting out of sight of their human friends. There are Seventh-Day Adventists who seriously try to encourage cats to eat vegan meals.

"Not the cats, the web site," I said.

She said, "Maybe the web site needs pumpkin seeds too."

Well, maybe it does.

Pepitas are not necessarily a substitute for a worm treatment by a vet, but if your cat enjoys the nutty crunch pepitas add to her (or his) dinner, indulging this taste now and then just might extend the time between those pricey (and not very pleasant) treatments.

Ingredients for a Pepita Meal for Cats and Their Humans 

1/2 to 1 cup brown rice

1/4 to 1/2 cup cracked and/or crushed and/or ground pepitas

1 to 2 cups cooked spinach or other greens

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, or other seasonings (humans only)

Method for a Pepita Meal for Cats and Their Humans 

1. Cook the rice as directed.

2. Cook the greens by heating them in the water that clings to them after washing, or use a can of precooked greens.

3. Combine rice, greens, and pepitas. Divide among humans' and cats' dishes.

4. Pass seasonings for the humans.

Variations 

Although this is a nutritious, protein-rich meal all by itself, you can add meat if you want to. Or any of those wheat-and-soy "meat analogs" Seventh-Day Adventists prefer, if you eat them.

Or sunflower seeds.

Or slivered almonds.

Or garbanzos.