Snacks and Treats for Your Cat
As a cat-lover, you’ll know how tempting it can be to give your furry friend treats and titbits to eat alongside their main meals.
Scraps from the table or food fed by hand are, for lots of people, a way of showing affection to your cat. As lovely as it is getting your dear feline’s attention and having them eating out of your hand, literally, cat treats are best used sporadically and within certain limits. Here is how to get treat time right, how many treats a day to feed your pet and what to avoid.
Which cat treats to choose?
When it comes to treats for cats, your intentions may be good, but the fact is that human foods can be very high in calories and salt, and often lack many of the essential nutrients your cat needs. What this means is that you run the risk of overfeeding and/or upsetting the balance of your cat’s diet.
The good news is that many manufactured cat treats are also available – these may be designed to support digestive or dental health, or as an extra special treat or reward for your feline friend.
How many cat treats a day?
Cat treats contain calories and are usually not complete and balanced. They’re meant to given just as an occasional treat. It’s therefore important that whenever you give cat snacks to your pet, you reduce their main meal by an equivalent calorific amount. You should also limit feline treats to no more than 10% of their total daily calorie intake, so that you don’t unbalance your cat’s overall diet.
Cat treat options to consider
You should limit your cat’s treat intake to no more than about 20-30 calories from treats a day; depending on the size of the treat, that usually equates to just a few pieces. So how can you incorporate treats without breaking your cat’s caloric budget? Think outside the bag. Catnip and cat grass are very low calorie and they accomplish much the same purpose as traditional treats. You could also consider making your own treats. Remember that anything new and different is going to feel like a treat for your cat! A small bite of boiled egg, a steamed green bean…just about any nutritious vet-approved food can be a “treat” for your cat if you serve it at the right time. Remember to take calories into account if you’re actually making recipe-based cat treats and to store them in the fridge or freeze since they’ll be free of preservatives. Finally, remember that treating your cat doesn’t necessarily mean feeding her. Play time or a good rub session might be all your cat needs to feel the love.
You should always, always consult your veterinarian before adding anything to your cat’s diet. Because cats are so small, just a few extra pounds can make a huge difference in their overall health, so it’s important to be aware of whether or not your cat’s weight is normal. Regular veterinarian visits are the best way to ensure your feline companion doesn’t accidentally end up overweight.
Benefit of treating your cat
Feline Oral Hygiene
Let’s face it, brushing your cat’s teeth is a whole lot tougher than brushing a dog’s teeth, and that’s no walk in the park either. Giving your cats dental treats with their firm surface can help reduce plaque and tartar.
Reducing Stress in Cats
Treats are also another good way to help reduce stress in cats. A lot of times cats can become even more finicky about eating after experiencing an injury or when they’re recovering from an illness. Offering up a soft treat during times like this can encourage them to take part in eating when they need it most.
Training Using Treats
Just like with dogs, treat training is useful with cats as well. Training through the use of treats is actually a successful positive re-enforcement technique. It can be used when you’re trying to teach your cat to do any number of things, like staying off the kitchen table or counter tops, using the litter box or in order to keep them from clawing furniture.
Mixing it Up
Treats are another way to keep things fresh and alleviate food boredom from the same old ho-hum menu they’re served. Aside from their normal healthy diet, a little variety is a pleasant change of pace for everyone. Even if you had the opportunity to eat fillet mignon or lobster every day, would you want to? No matter what you might think, it would get old quick.