As a dedicated veterinarian, I understand that your feline companion's well-being is of utmost importance to you. You probably take care of their hygiene, nutrition, and enrichment as part of it.
One of the ways cat people love to express affection for our cats is by giving them treats. A treat is a great way to show them love and doing it properly is crucial for our gat to understand this loving gesture as well as to keeping them healthy. In this blog post, we'll delve into the world of cat treats.
In this article, you will learn:
- Insights into the different categories of cat treats, their textures, ingredients, and the specific benefits of each type.
- How to make the right choices for your cat treats. Cats have unique dietary needs, and the treats we choose can significantly impact their well-being.
Let's embark on this cat-loving journey together and learn how to find the best treats that your cat enjoys while understanding their unique needs.
Too Many Treats Could be Harming Your Cat
I've been a veterinarian for over 10 years, specializing in cat nutrition. I'm committed to feline health and I need you to understand this:
Cat treats, in essence, are supplementary food items given to cats outside of their regular diet. These treats don’t contain all the essential nutrients cats need daily, but they are developed as occasional indulgences.
While your cat's primary nutrition should come from a balanced and complete food, treats serve several important purposes:
- Reward and bonding: Cat treats are invaluable tools for positive reinforcement and bonding. They can be used during training sessions or as a way to show affection and strengthen the human-cat relationship.
- Enrichment and mental stimulation: Treats can be strategically used in interactive toys or puzzle feeders to engage your cat's mind and provide mental stimulation. This is especially beneficial for indoor cats to prevent boredom. Learn some tricks here!
Popular Types of Cat Treats
Now that we've laid a foundation for understanding cat treats, let's explore the popular categories of cat treats and their unique characteristics.
|Benefits and Considerations
|Often known as dry treats, they are solid and firm. They have a hard, crisp texture that requires chewing. These treats come in various shapes and sizes, making them easy to handle.
|Also called semi-moist treats, they have a pliable and chewy texture. They are usually moist to the touch and come in a variety of shapes and flavors.
|Made by freezing and removing moisture from the ingredients. They have a lightweight, crispy texture and can be crumbled easily.
|Are crafted by you, using fresh ingredients. The texture can vary depending on the recipe, ranging from crunchy to soft.
We reviewed a big variety of cat treats… So, in the next section, we will discuss how to select the right treats that align with your cat's specific needs.
Assess the Right Treats your Cat with this 3-Step Process
Selecting the best cat treats is a crucial aspect of responsible pet care. Just as with their regular food, the treats you offer should align with your cat's individual needs, preferences, and health considerations.
1. Cat training treats vs. Indulgence Treats
If you normally use treats in your cat's training sessions or during walks away from home, the use of freeze-dried treats like Feastfuls™ is indicated for their healthy nutritional profile and easy usability in those situations.
If you are looking for a great prize for special moments, while cats love freeze-dried chicken, a soft treat due to its high palatability and diversity of textures may be the right choice.
2. Big brands might be lying to you. Here's what to do:
When evaluating treatment options, scrutinize the ingredient list. The ingredient list is usually on the back of the pack, if you really want to understand if a treat is good or not, don't trust the text in the front, turn the pack around and read the ingredient list.
Look for high-quality and comprehensible ingredients like real meat (chicken, turkey, or fish) as the primary ingredient. Avoid treats with fillers, artificial additives, preservatives, and “incomprehensible” ingredients.
Soft and other indulgence treats tend to have more of these ingredients and this is why they are not recommended for cat guardians who like to give cat treats often.
3. Tailoring treats to your cat's preferences
Cats have individual taste preferences. Some may prefer chicken-flavored treats, while others might prefer seafood or cheese-flavored options. Pay attention to your cat's reactions and preferences.
We often receive questions from cat parents who say their cat doesn't like treats. Take a look at this video to understand why some cats don't like treats and what to do about it.
4. BONUS STEP - Addressing health conditions
- Food allergies and intolerances: Food allergies can manifest as gastrointestinal upset or skin issues. If your cat has a known food allergy or intolerance, choose treats that are specifically formulated to address these concerns. Hypoallergenic treats are designed to minimize the risk of allergic reactions by using novel protein sources or eliminating common allergens. They can be a safe option for cats with known sensitivities.
- Obesity: In cats that are overweight, it is very important to control the intake of daily calories. Eliminating treats from the diet of these cats is usually the first recommendation by veterinarians, but we all know that many times this is not possible. In this type of case, the use of low-calorie and small-sized treats is the best option.
- Oral diseases: Soft treats are suitable for cats with dental issues or older cats who may have difficulty chewing harder treats.
In cases where your cat has other specific health concerns or dietary restrictions, consult with your veterinarian or a feline nutritionist for personalized treatment recommendations.
In the next section, we will explore the importance of moderation and portion control when it comes to cat treats.
Moderation and Portion Control
Moderation is the cornerstone of responsible treat-giving. Treats should never replace your cat's regular, balanced diet, but rather enhance it.
Excessive treat consumption can result in various health issues, including:
- Weight gain: Perhaps the most immediate concern is the risk of obesity. Just as with humans, obesity in cats can lead to numerous health problems, including diabetes, joint issues, and heart disease.
- Digestive upset: Overindulging in treats can upset your cat's digestive system, leading to diarrhea or vomiting. Sudden dietary changes, such as a significant increase in treats intake, can be particularly disruptive.
- Nutritional imbalance: If your cat consumes too many treats, they may miss out on essential nutrients from their regular food. This can lead to nutritional imbalances and deficiencies.
Guidelines for Portion Control:
To maintain a healthy balance, follow these guidelines for portion control when giving treats to your cat:
- Read serving recommendations: Most treat packages provide guidelines on how many treats are appropriate for your cat's size and weight. Follow these recommendations as a starting point.
- Count treats: Keep track of how many treats your cat receives in a day. It's easy to lose count, especially when multiple family members are involved in treat-giving… So, as a special trick, put all the treats that the cat can eat per day in a closed jar in the kitchen and maintain the family rule that treats that are given to the cat should only be taken from that jar. Once the boat is empty, the treats are over for the day!
- Adjust daily caloric intake: Be mindful of your cat's overall daily caloric intake. Treats should make up no more than 10% of their daily calories to prevent weight gain.
Homemade Cat Treat Recipes
One of the most rewarding ways to show your love for your feline friend is by preparing homemade cat treats.
Crafting treats in your own kitchen allows you to have full control over the ingredients, ensuring that your cat enjoys wholesome and healthy snacks.
Here, I'll share two simple and nutritious homemade cat treat recipes, complete with step-by-step instructions and ingredient lists.
Tuna and Catnip Crunchies
- 1/2 cup canned tuna, drained
- 1 cup oat flour
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon dried catnip
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, combine the canned tuna, oat flour, egg, and dried catnip.
- Process the mixture until it forms a dough.
- Roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface.
- Use cookie cutters or a knife to create small treats.
- Place the treats on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until they become crispy.
- Allow the treats to cool completely before serving. Store any extras in an airtight container.
Chicken and Sweet Potato Bites
- 1/2 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
- 1/4 cup whole oat flour
- 1 egg
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked and shredded chicken, mashed sweet potato, whole oat flour, and egg. Mix until a dough forms.
- Roll small portions of the dough into bite-sized balls and place them on the baking sheet.
- Flatten each ball slightly with a fork.
- Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the treats are firm and lightly browned.
- Allow the treats to cool completely before offering them to your cat. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
Enjoy making these treats and watching your cat savor every bite! However, if your are not a declared chef, the Feastful Feeze-dried Chicken Treats is your best option!
As we conclude our exploration of Exploring the World of Cat Treats. I hope this article has provided you with valuable insights into the world of feline treats and their importance in your cat's life. Treating your cat is not just about indulgence; it's an opportunity to enhance their well-being, strengthen your bond, and engage them both mentally and emotionally.
We've covered the various types of cat treats, but always remember that best treat for your cat depends on their individual preferences and dietary needs. Take the time to observe your feline friend's reactions and adjust accordingly.
Moderation and portion control cannot be stressed enough. While treats can be a source of joy, overindulgence can lead to health issues such as obesity and digestive problems. Always aim for a balance between affection and responsible treat-giving.
As a veterinarian, I encourage you to view treats as a means to enhance the quality of your cat's life.
Veterinarian & Animal Nutritionist