Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

petMD Blogs

Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

 
 
Your cat's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your cat, how much food to feed, and the differences in cat foods, so your cat gets optimum nutrition.
Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Cat Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of cat nutrition.

5 Tips for Picking Out Treats for Cats

October 03, 2014 / (1) comments

Last reviewed on November 25, 2015

 

My cat has me well trained. Every evening she arrives in the kitchen for her treats. If I don’t conjure them up quickly enough, she is not shy in expressing her irritation — vocally at first and then as the situation becomes more urgent (from her point of view) by placing all of her six pounds directly underfoot. I invariably acquiesce at this point to save one or both of us from injury.

 

Since treats are a daily indulgence for many cats, it’s important to put some thought into what makes a good cat treat.

 

  1. Treats should be treats

     

    In my mind, a treat should be special… something that a cat looks forward to and relishes eating. I’ve heard nutritionists and veterinarians say that a under certain circumstances, it’s best if a cat’s regular food be used as a treat. While medically-speaking this may be true, I don’t think the cat truly looks at this extra meal as a treat. Treats should be delicious (from the cat’s point of view) and do not have to provide optimal nutrition.

  1. Moderation is key

     

    The nutritional value of treats is not all that important because they should only be a tiny part of a cat’s diet. I recommend somewhere in the range of 5-10% of total calories. Calorie counts for commercially prepared treats are not always printed on the label but should be available on the manufacturer’s website or by calling them directly. The USDA’s food-a-pedia is an excellent resource for this type of information for human foods.

  1. Human food and commercially prepared treats are both fine

     

    For something to be considered a treat, it should differ significantly from what is ordinarily eaten. I love my daily (small) dose of chocolate because almost nothing else I regularly eat is so high in sugar and fat. Use your cat’s treats as an opportunity to offer a little variety. If he eats primarily kibble, try offering a few flakes of canned tuna or shreds of cooked chicken. If she eats a moist diet, she might relish the chance to crunch on some “tartar-control” treats.

     

    Human foods that make good cat treats include turkey, chicken, egg, clams, beef, lamb, tuna, sardines, salmon, cheese, or a small amount of milk. All raw meat, fish, or poultry should be cooked prior to feeding to reduce the chances that people or pets in the home will become sick with a food-borne pathogen. Always monitor how a cat responds to anything new in the diet. Dietary intolerances (e.g., lactose intolerance) or allergies are always a possibility.

  1. Avoid anything potentially dangerous

     

    While many foods are safe for cats when used as treats, some can lead to illness and should always be avoided. Steer clear of anything containing onions, garlic, leeks, chives, grapes, raisins, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, tea, and jerky-style treats made with ingredients sourced from China.

  1. Treats don’t replace attention

     

    When life gets busy, it’s tempting to toss your cat a few treats and call it good, but food can’t replace time and love. Don’t forget to incorporate play, snuggle time, or whatever it is that the two of you enjoy doing together into your daily routine.

 

 

Dr. Jennifer Coates

 

Image: AnastasiaNess / Shutterstock

 

Comments  1

Leave Comment
  • Owen
    10/10/2014 05:05pm

    My Owen is a food hound and will do most anything for a treat. Of course, it must be the RIGHT treat. Otherwise, he'll turn his nose up and stalk away.

    My veterinarian introduced me to Lysine treats for Stan (RIP), but since Owen is also FIV+, we figured it couldn't hurt especially if they do, in fact, boost his immune system.

    When I get home from work, Owen will meet me in the kitchen and jump up onto the counter for his pills because he gets 4 to 6 kibbles of Lysine treats afterward.

    I've spent a fortune on other treats, but nothing so far has matched the enthusiasm he displays for Lysine treats.

 



ABOUT NUTRITION NUGGETS

JENNIFER COATES, DVM

Photo of Jennifer

... graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian .

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics. Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.


 
MORE FROM PETMD.COM