Cats are lovable, awesome creatures that deserve to be pampered. And what better way to show your kitty you love him than to offer him delicious treats from time to time? Cat treats are a tasty way to encourage good behavior, help your feline friend clean her teeth, or just reward her for being the greatest pet. But as with anything, moderation is key here as well– many treats are packed with useless calories that only promote unhealthy weight gain, so it’s crucial to ration them judiciously. In general, no more than 10% of your cat’s daily total caloric intake should come from treats, so choose how often to give them wisely.
To help you pick the best cat treat for your feline companion, we’ve scoured hundreds of reviews and tested dozens of treats, finally coming up with a list of top 10 best cat treats. Read on to find the right one for your pet.
Best Cat Treats Buying Guide & FAQ
Every pet parent wants the best for their pet children, treats included. But with hundreds of cat treats on the market, picking the best one can be an overwhelming process. Some treats are protein-rich, others are grain-free and some are just pure indulgence. Obviously, you want a treat that your cat will not only enjoy eating, but that will at least somewhat complement her diet. So which treat checks all the boxes?
To answer that question, you need to take your own and your cat’s needs into account. Maybe your four-legged friend is a senior cat? Or he prefers wet treats over dry, crunchy ones? Do you want supremely healthy treats or you’re ok with not that healthy but absolutely delicious treats?
To help you answer those and many other questions, we’ve put together this simple but useful buying guide. Hopefully, it will help you make an informed decision that your cat will love.
Different Types Of Cat Treats
There are many cat treats on the market, but the most common types are:
- Standard dry treats: most cats go crazy for regular crunchy treats, as they’re not only delicious but fun to chew. Some are protein-rich, others are low-fat, and some are grain-free. The options are many, and you’re sure to find at least one treat your tabby will love.
- Standard wet treats: similar to dry treats, wet treats are adored by most cats. They come in the form of tender meat-like treats, sauces or straight up liquids. If you have a senior cat, liquid treats are the best option as they don’t require crunching and chewing in order to be consumed.
- Dental treats: these treats are basically two-in-one treats, as they’re not only tasty and most cats love chewing on them, but they’re great for oral health. If your cat has teeth problems, bad breath or is starting to develop gingivitis, definitely give dental treats a try.
- Special diet treats: treats that cater to specific health problems, such as diabetes, kidney issues or allergies are called special diet treats. You may want to buy only these if your cat has serious health issues. For instance, treats low in protein are the way to go if your pet has kidney disease, while treats with no sugar and grain are good for cats with diabetes.
What Makes a Great Cat Treat
There are so many cat treats our there, it’s hard to count them all. But not all treats are actually good for your feline pet – no matter how delicious your cat may find them, some treats are just sugar, salt, wheat and corn fillers. Obviously, you want to avoid those as much as possible and stick to healthier treats. But what are the healthier alternatives?
Here is what makes a great cat treat:
- It’s tasty (your cat loves it)
- It’s nutritious (has real food and/or added vitamins and minerals)
- It’s affordable (fits your budget).
It’s not that hard, right? You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to find treats that tick all the right boxes. Most that are very tasty are poor in nutrition, and those that are really healthy are not cats’ favorites. And treats that are both healthy and delicious? More often than not, they’re super-expensive.
Still, there are quite a few treats that are good all around, and most of them can be found right here, on our top 10 list.
Ingredients To Avoid
Now that you know what to look for in cat treats, it’s time we cover the things that should be avoided. First, let’s talk about what cats in the wild eat – meat, some more meat and then a bit more meat. Occasionally, bits of grass find their way into wild cats’ stomachs, either because they purposefully eat bits of specific types of grass, or because they were in their prey’s stomach.
What about house cats- should they have different diets? Not really, as most indoor cats have the same dietary needs as their wild cousins, but some tabbies may thrive better with a bit more fiber in their diet, or more healthy oils (omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish oil) than usual.
If you’re already feeding your cat real, healthy foods, there’s no reason treats should be different. Of course, because they’re given occasionally and in small amounts, there’s more room to wiggle here, but you should still try to stay away from the following ingredients:
- Too much sodium
- Artificial flavors
- Artificial dyes.
Some experts advise even against artificial preservatives, such as BHA and BHT, but not all cats react badly to these (in fact, FDA has labeled these preservatives as Generally Recognized as Safe).
Finally, if your kitty is on the heavy side and you need to make sure she’s not gaining any more weight, skip wheat, corn and soy as well. These are ok in small amounts for most healthy cats, but should be avoided if your cat has health issues such as diabetes, or is overweight.
Q: Why Give Your Cat Treats?
A: If your cat has a top-notch diet and seems generally happy, you may be wondering why even bother with treats? The answer may surprise you, as there are quite a few reasons to give your feline pet treats from time to time.
- Encourage good behavior
‘Dogs can be trained, but cats cannot’. How many times have you heard this? Sure, cats can’t do as many tricks as dogs, but they most definitely can be trained to behave nicely and properly. And the best way to do that? Positive reinforcement.
For example, if you want to train your cat to come running when you call him, give him a treat every time he actually does it. Want to train your kitty to stop meowing every time you eat lunch? After you tell her to stop and she listens, give her a treat. Likewise, when your pet is not listening, don’t reward her with a treat.
- Help clean teeth
Like humans, cats also need to take care of their oral health. Obviously, they cannot brush their teeth by themselves, but at least they can eat foods that help them fight oral health problems. Offering dental cat treats is a great way to make your pet happy and healthy, as these combat tartar buildup and plaque and help prevent gingivitis.
- Add variety
If your cat is eating pretty much the same food all the time (especially if it’s the same type of cat food such as dry kibble), it’s probably a good idea to include a treat or two here and there. It will make your feline friend’s life more enjoyable, and as a result, she’ll be happier.
Q: How Often Should I Give My Cat Treats?
A: Think of cat treats as human snacks – you want to eat wholesome, healthy and nutritionally complete meals throughout the day, but a snack in the evening, after a long day of work, with your favorite TV show on? Nobody can say no to that!
Cat treats are the same – they shouldn’t be offered more than a few times a day, tops, no matter how much your cat may meow for them. And trust us when we say this – the cat will meow for her treats if she likes them, so be prepared to stay your ground.
All in all, moderation is key: no cat in this world actually requires treats, but do they deserve them? They most certainly do. It’s more than fine to pamper your four-legged companion from time to time, especially if you’re trying to modify his behavior, or you want to reward him for being a well-behaved pet. But be careful – treats can be a slippery slope that leads to spoiled rotten pets, so exercise control and practice moderation and you and your feline friend will be good to go.