The best cat treats I’ve found are: We do lots of things to make our cats love us. Giving them treats is one of those things. However, connecting delicious food with positive emotions is a human trait. And not a very good one at that. Not only are we becoming obese as a result of junk food – our cats are too. The wild ancestors of our domesticated cats ate purely to sustain themselves. Now, we give our cats delicious treats to reward them and help to train them. The good news is that many awesome cat food brands are producing healthy and even organic treats for our furry friends. Why Give Your Cat Treats? Treats can be useful for more than just spoiling your pet. Treats are a great reward that can be used as positive reinforcement for good behavior.
The carrot does work better than the stick when it comes to training your cat. Here are some cool ways you can use cat treats: Rewarding Good BehaviorThe Humane Society puts it simply – “If you want your cat to repeat a behavior, reward that behavior” (source). Cat treats for training should be small, so your cat can nibble them up in a few seconds and return to the task. We’ve used this technique for teaching our cats to come when called, play fetch (rather unsuccessfully), and tolerate bathing. Distraction During GroomingTreats can also distract a cat when you’re doing things they don’t like, such as brushing their teeth, clipping their nails, or getting them to pose for photos. To ApologizeAnother use for treats is to comfort an upset kitty. For example, if I accidentally step on Loki’s tail, I’ll give him the treat to apologize.
I’m not sure he understands what I mean, but it seems to make him forget what happened. It’s probably more to relieve my guilt than to apologize to him! To Lure Your Cat Out of HidingFinally, one of the best uses for treats is to find your cat when he’s hiding. One time Loki got into our kitchen cupboard and disappeared somewhere out of reach. I was terrified that he’d escaped (our cats are indoor). We had the wise idea to shake the treat bag, and he came running out immediately – safe and sound! Are Cat Treats Healthy? The answer is the same as for human “treats.” If your idea of a snack is some veggie slices or an apple, then yes, treats are super healthy! If you’re snacking on candy and chips…not so much. When it comes to kitty treats, there are varying levels of quality too. If you’re wondering what the best and worst cat treats are, I’ll get to that later. Moderation is key, especially with unhealthy treats. I was rather shocked to learn that more than half of cats are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (source).
I can understand how it happens though – we use food as a way to show affection. However, it’s a bad habit. Treats should only make up around 10% of your cat’s daily calories, says vet Marla McGeorge (source). Treats can contain between 1 and 20 calories per piece, so always read the label, especially if your cat is overweight. Ingredients to AvoidIn general, you want to avoid feeding your cat too much-processed food. There’s no point giving your cat anything with sugar as they can’t taste it (source), and it can lead to diabetes. Some pet owners also like to stay away from artificial colors, flavorings, and preservatives. I take it on a case-by-case basis. Some artificial ingredients are harmless. Added vitamins and minerals are a good thing. Colors and flavorings have no nutritional value, so I don’t see the need for them. Your cat won’t be missing out if you avoid kitty “junk food” ingredients. What they love is meat – pure protein with a bit of fat. There are plenty of treat brands that make healthy snacks, which are also delicious for your pet. What About Grain-Free? There’s a lot of hype around grain-free pet food at the moment. It seems to have stemmed from the popularity of grain and gluten-free diets for humans. There’s tons of information online, but to summarize, the grain isn’t the worst thing in the world for your cat. Gluten intolerance isn’t as common in cats as it is in humans.
It’s sporadic. A study found that only 4 out of 56 cats had a gluten allergy compared with 45 reacting to beef, dairy, and fish (source). We continue to feed our cats meat and seafood, so why avoid grains? Cats’ diet in the wild is indeed almost all meat (protein) and few carbohydrates. However, feeding your cat grains has its pros. Grains are a fiber source that keeps your cat’s digestive system moving and helps to pass hairballs (source). Different Types of Cat TreatThere’s a wide range of treats on the market nowadays – from budget options to positively gourmet. There are a few different types that are good for different needs – I use a mixture to keep things exciting for my kitties. Below I’ve chosen the best natural cat treats, and several are also grain-free. If you have any favorites that I’ve missed, please share in the comments! Crunchy treats these are small, kibble-like biscuits. They’re by far the most common type of cat treat, especially in the budget category. The hard texture makes them good for cleaning your cat’s teeth. They even have some awesome cat treats for dental health, which is specially formulated with anti-tartar ingredients. Crunchy treats are a good choice for kittens as they provide some relief from teething pains. Of course, this only applies to kittens who are old enough to eat solid food. Kittens younger than ten weeks don’t have enough teeth to chew (source). When choosing treats for your kitten, always check the label. Many treats are labeled as “for adult cats only.” Don’t forget, because kittens are smaller than adult cats. They need less food. Good cat treats for kittens should be low in calories. Unfortunately, I consider a lot of crunchy treats kitty junk food – containing cheap “filler” ingredients and flavorings. However, there are a few gems. My favorites are The best cat dental treats: Moist TreatsMoist or soft cat treats are other popular options.
These are good for older cats who may have trouble chewing or have lost some teeth (you have to brush them, people!). Another option is to just soak the crunchy treats above in water until they soften up or try cat milk for a liquid treat. It’s tough to find soft treats that don’t have any dodgy preservatives like BHA in them. Because they are moist, they will expire faster than the crunchy treats, so I suppose they need more additives. The one brand I was happy with was: Please share some other good natural options if you’re aware of them, and I’ll add them to the list. Freeze Dried MeatThis category is the crème de la crème of cat treats, and the fish treats below. If I have to recommend one type, I’d say these are my favorite overall. They mostly have just one ingredient – pure, freeze-dried meat. Some of them even use human-grade meat. Unfortunately, this quality comes at a higher price. However, these are the only types of treats I can feed my cats without worrying about ingredients. Fish Flakes & FishBoth of the fish treats on this list have a single ingredient. My cats love Kitty Kaviar. If you’re familiar with Japanese food – they’re bonito flakes. Bonito flakes are a staple of Japanese cuisine. They’re used to make soups, stock bases, and as a topping on lots of dishes.
If they’re yummy enough for humans, they’re certainly good enough for our pets! Some tips don’t give treats too frequently, or the novelty will wear off. A couple of times a week is enough. Use a mixture of treats to keep them interested. Throw crunchy treats, so your cat has to run to get it – it will work off some of those calories! Don’t give human treats like candy, high fat, or salty foods. This page gives some good, safe examples of human treats for cats. Treats don’t have to be food. You can pet your cat as a reward or use catnip.
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