PAW-SITIVE PAS­SIONS

A strong ad­vo­cate for furkids eat­ing fresh, Crys­tle Tan—for­mer ac­coun­tant and founder of pop­u­lar lo­cal pet bak­ery and kitchen Feed My Paws— hopes to in­spire paw-rents with her whole­some, in­no­va­tive cre­ations and recipes. By Justina Tan

Pets (Singapore) - - Contents -

Find out how this pet bak­ery rises to the oc­ca­sion.

Bark-day cakes and hand­made pet treats are now sta­ples for the mod­ern­day paw-rent, which ex­plains why com­pe­ti­tion is rife among pet bak­eries here. Although In­sta­gram is flooded with pol­ished im­ages of in­tri­cately piped doggy cakes, @feed­my­paws stands out for its heart­felt posts and in­no­va­tive food prod­ucts for furkids.

Founded four and a half years ago by 31-year-old Crys­tle Tan, Feed My Paws has gained a rep­u­ta­tion for its fun, whole­some treats and snacks in­spired by trendy hu­man foods. The for­mer ac­coun­tant and so­cial me­dia ex­ec­u­tive left her day job in 2011 to be­come a dogsit­ter and it was then that she dis­cov­ered she had an in­ter­est in and a knack for prepar­ing furkid-friendly meals and treats.

Although her first menu had just pork jerky, peanut but­ter fudge, and pork with ap­ple and cin­na­mon cook­ies, her reper­toire has since ex­panded to in­clude pup­cakes, bark-day cakes and adorable jun­gle-themed dog cook­ies in daz­zling hues. How­ever, she has put cake­mak­ing on hold since her 15-year-old Chi­huahua, Skotch, was di­ag­nosed with liver can­cer last Septem­ber. “He may need emer­gency vet care at any point. I

don’t want to can­cel any­one’s cake or­der at the last minute and ruin their birth­day,” says Crys­tle.

Un­like many pet bak­eries that are hes­i­tant to re­veal “trade se­crets”, Crys­tle hopes to share her knowl­edge via video tu­to­ri­als and classes to en­cour­age more paw-rents to pre­pare home-cooked meals and treats for their furkids. “I faced a chal­lenge last year when I saw my recipes be­ing used for profit by oth­ers. It made me stop shar­ing recipes com­pletely for a while be­cause I was fu­ri­ous at how un­eth­i­cal peo­ple can be. But I’ve since taken it in my stride and changed my mind­set. Some­times you can’t help but in­spire peo­ple, right?” she quips.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS

Although many of Crys­tle’s best­sellers are fairly straight­for­ward, cus­tomers love her monthly lim­ited edi­tion items, such as the tiny rain­bow-hued heart-shaped cook­ies she made for Valen­tine’s Day and bak zhang (a pork ten­der­loin or salmon pyra­mid stuffed with a whole quail egg, or­ganic pump­kin, and leafy greens) she cre­ated for Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val this June.

“I’m a foodie and I love try­ing out all sorts of new snacks for hu­mans once they hit the mar­ket. There seems to be a new craze ev­ery year, like uni­corn cup­cakes and messy buns. I just feel so bad when I eat them and my furkids watch me! So that serves as my num­ber one in­spi­ra­tion—to al­low them to en­joy what I’m eat­ing, just more suited to their di­etary needs,” shares Crys­tle. How­ever, she avoids check­ing out com­peti­tors’ web­sites and In­sta­gram feeds, as she doesn’t want to risk cre­at­ing some­thing sim­i­lar.

PRAC­TICE MAKES PER­FECT

Crys­tle spends 60 to 70 hours a week in the kitchen and goes through an av­er­age of 10 to 12kg of meat/fish and 4 to 5kg of veg­eta­bles weekly. Only grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, wild­caught salmon and or­ganic veg­eta­bles are used in her prod­ucts. “I spend more time in the kitchen than any­where else in my home,” she shares.

Among her favourite tools for the job are a con­vec­tion oven, a large de­hy­dra­tor, a food pro­ces­sor, a slow cooker, a sharp knife, and tooth­picks. To cre­ate the vi­brant hues in some of her treats, Crys­tle steams, blends and squeezes the juice from veg­eta­bles such as beetroot, spinach, kale, but­ter­fly pea, sweet potato and turmeric.

FUR-MILY FIRST

Feed My Paws isn’t li­censed by the Agri-Food & Vet­eri­nary Author­ity of Singapore to pro­duce food for dogs or cats, and Crys­tle has no in­ten­tion of get­ting a li­cence as it re­quires a brick and mor­tar store with a kitchen. “I love work­ing from home as I get to be with my furkids, which is im­por­tant to me. The thought of open­ing a phys­i­cal store and putting profit above all else doesn’t sit well with my goals as well,” she ex­plains.

Out of the time she spends in the kitchen, eight hours a week are de­voted to meal prep for her 11 furkids: Skotch, the can­cer­stricken se­nior Chi­huahua; Hoovy, a 10-year-old Pomera­nian-Ger­man Spitz cross; Boo Boo, a two-year-old Munchkin cat; and eight ham­sters. The dogs and cat are all on dif­fer­ent di­ets be­cause of their vary­ing ages and health con­di­tions, which re­quire ad­di­tional ef­fort from Crys­tle. “My hus­band and I have al­ways placed the furkids as pri­or­ity, so the grass-fed beef and or­ganic chicken goes to them. Any­thing left in the bud­get goes to us,” she says with a chuckle.

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