Cat treats are one of the best parts of raising a purring partner – there’s nothing quite like having your cat run over to you to literally eat out of your hand. That said, cat treats are more than just a reward for a pet you love. The best treats offer a variety of health benefits, making them delicious and nutritious. Before we get to the list of the best treats, let’s take a look at the different types of treats on the market.
Quick Look : Best Cat Treats in 2019
How Many Treats Should I Give My Cat?
That depends on the type of treat and how it’s being used. For most cats, however, treats should comprise no more than 10% of the food they eat each day. Most types of treats provide further information (such as “1-2 treats daily”), and you should never exceed the suggested amount for any one type of treat.
It helps to have a schedule for your treats. Some families do things like providing activity treats in the morning, nutritional treats at lunch, and dental treats just before bed. Regardless of your schedule, try to keep the number of treats consistent – that way, your cats won’t constantly ask you for more.
For most cats, 20-30 calories of treats per-day are appropriate. Treats are usually 1-2 calories each – though you should always check the label to be sure. If you’re still not certain how many treats to give, start with 6-10 per-day and increase it only if you feel like you need to.
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Why To Feed Your Cat Treats
Activity treats are a natural stimulant that raise your cat’s awareness and encourage physical activity. Most activity treats feature catnip, which is neither harmful nor addictive for cats despite its famously stimulating properties.
Unlike most treats, however, activity treats are usually limited to once-per-day. Getting a cat to move around is good, but too much stimulation can harmful instead of helpful.
Note that some cats are not affected by catnip. Estimates vary (sources have cited everywhere from 15% to 50% not reacting to the stuff), but if your cat doesn’t react, activity treats may be useless. To see if your cat will respond to these, consider buying a catnip toy and watching their reactions.
Also, cats do not react to catnip until they’re about six months old. Fortunately, kittens are fairly playful and don’t need activity treats to encourage them to get up and move.
Dental treats are a great way to take care of your cat’s teeth. Without proper attention, cats can develop plaque and tartar on their teeth, eventually leading to other problems with their mouth. Note that no number of dental treats are a substitute for brushing and the occasional cleaning at your vet’s office.
Most dental treats don’t work through chemicals. Instead, their shape and crunchy texture use the cat’s own chewing motions to scrape teeth clean. These treats usually recommend more per-day than most other treats, and it’s worth following the directions. Providing too few of these treats may prevent them from cleaning as well as they should.
Medical treats are specially formulated to deal with a variety of health issues. Depending on the formula, these treats may help with everything from hairballs to joint health. Medical treats are particularly helpful as your cat ages – many felines develop issues over time, and proper treatment of their symptoms can lead to a longer, healthier, and more comfortable life.
Like activity treats, medical treats should only be used in the doses recommended on the packaging or by your vet. Deviating from the instructions could cause an overdose. Also, be sure you talk to your vet before using two or more types of medical treats at the same time. As with human medicines, there could be negative reactions from combining certain treats, so it’s always better to get your vet’s guidance.
Nutritional treats provide protein, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for your cat’s growth and development. For many cats, nutritional treats are optional – if they get everything they need from their regular food, extra nutrition won’t make much of a difference.
On the other hand, if your cat doesn’t have a complete regular food, nutritional treats are a vital part of making sure they get all the nutrients they need. The good news is that most treats are nutritional in addition to any other benefits they have, so you probably won’t have to worry as long as they’re getting treats in the first place.
(That said, no treat is a good substitute for normal food, no matter how full of nutrition it is. As we mentioned above, even the healthiest treat should be no more than 10% of your cat’s diet.)
Reward treats are a sort of catch-all category for treats that are tasty but don’t provide other benefits. Their primary use is bonding with your cat and giving them a treat that makes them happy. Of course, cats like most treats – which is entirely intentional, because otherwise they wouldn’t want to eat them. Treats from other categories can also work as rewards.
What’s With All The Different Varieties?
Just like humans, cats often prefer certain flavors in their food. Meat (especially chicken) and fish are particularly popular, and most cats will respond well to them. When you’re first getting treats, buy several different flavors and test them to see if your cat has a preference. Some will happily take any treat, while others may be picky and only eat a certain flavor.
Once you know what flavors your cat enjoys, get more treats of that type in the future. However, unless your cat is extremely picky, don’t use the same flavor all the time. Switching things up can help ensure treats remain interesting and surprising, rather than something to get used to over time.
Can I Do Anything Else With Cat Treats?
Yes! Cat treats are an excellent teaching incentive, and they can be used to reward good behavior or teach tricks to your feline friend. (Yes, it is possible to teach tricks to cats.) Cat treats are also a good way of bonding with skittish or nervous animals, like many rescued from shelters. Once they realize that you’re providing tasty food, most cats will start to settle down and turn back into the purring pets we know and love.
The Top 6 Cat Treats
Now that we’ve looked at the types of cat treats, how many you should give your cat, and the things you can do with them, let’s take a look at the best treats currently available.
Cat-Man-Doo Life Essentials Wild Alaskan Salmon Freeze-Dried Cat & Dog Treats Check Price
Most cat treats are a combination of ingredients designed to meet specific needs – but now and then, you find a purer, natural product. These freeze-dried treats are 100% Wild Alaskan Salmon – no colors, preservatives, or other chemicals. Also, the freeze-drying process means the treats can be given as-is or rehydrated for cats that prefer wetter meals.
One thing that sets this product apart from its competitors is the lack of skin on the pieces. Some companies leave the skin on when processing fish, but many cats don’t actually like fish skin and will tear it off instead of eating it.
Nutritionally, these are a high-protein, low-fat product ideal for active cats. Using these in combination with activity treats can help ensure your purring partner has both the motivation and energy to move around. Also, they can be crumbled over other foods to serve as an appetite enhancer, which is especially helpful if you’re changing foods and need to convince your cat to eat them.
(If you’re changing foods to start them on a medical diet, talk to your vet before using this product as an appetite enhancer.)
- Has only one ingredient
- Can be used in many different ways
- High protein content is ideal for active cats
- More expensive than most treats
- Less guidance on calories and treats-per-day than most products
Greenies Feline Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor Dental Cat Treats Check Price
Greenies is a huge name in dental treats, and with good reason – these treats work. As dental treats, Greenies are specially designed to control plaque and tartar, improving your cat’s oral health even as they get to enjoy a tasty morsel.
As one of the healthiest cat treats, these use a natural formula emphasizing minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and taurine – all of which are important for your cat. They’re also low in calories (1.39 per treat), and cats are allowed to eat more of them than most other treats. This combination of dental and nutritional value, plus the added bonding from providing more treats, makes Greenies our top choice.
One caveat to be aware of is that these treats are meant for cats 1 year or older. Kittens below this point should get treats to support their growth, and only switch over when they’re old enough.
- Provides a natural, healthy way to fight plaque and tartar
- Extremely healthy
- Many treats can be given each day
- Available in small pouches and large tubs
- More expensive than most treats (though still worth buying)
- Not suitable for kittens
- Large size is difficult for some cats to eat
Purina Beyond Ocean Whitefish & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Cat Treats Check Price
These treats from Purina emphasize the value of natural, high-quality ingredients over artificial flavorings and fillers. The primary ingredients are ocean whitefish and chicken meal, with additional vitamins and minerals to promote your cat’s overall health. As a nutritional supplement, these are aimed at promoting overall health, while the popular fish flavoring makes them attractive to most cats.
Somewhat unusually, these treats are gluten-free. Most cats do not need a gluten-free diet – their bodies don’t react to it and simply let it pass through. On rare occasions, however, cats have a negative reaction to gluten and need food that avoids it.
More helpfully, gluten-free treats are safer for humans to handle. Conditions like celiac disease can trigger adverse reactions from ingesting even a small amount of gluten, so using cat treats that can’t get gluten on your hands is a good idea.
These treats are crunchy all the way through, but aren’t intended for use as dental treats and shouldn’t be used for that purpose.
- Ocean whitefish as the main ingredient
- Available in a smaller bag for testing
- Grain-free and gluten-free, making them safe for humans who react to gluten to handle
- Still contains some meat by-products
- No use for meal replacement despite nutrition focus
- Not a complete nutritional supplement
Temptations Feline Favorites Variety Pack Cat Treats Check Price
It’s a long name, I know – but this is my top recommendation for new cat owners. Temptations is a good brand, but the real value of this product is the variety of flavors. This 6-pack of treats comes with two pouches of Tasty Chicken, two pouches of Seafood Medley, one pouch of Tempting Tuna, and one pouch of Blissful Catnip. With these, you’ll be able to test some of the most common flavors and figure out your cat’s preferences.
I recommend going through these one pouch at a time – Chicken, Seafood, Tuna, Chicken, Seafood, Catnip is a good order for gauging reactions. If your cat doesn’t like a particular flavor, you can just move on to the next flavor on the list. (Consider donating any rejected flavors to your local animal shelter – most will accept them, especially if only a few treats are gone.)
Aside from the variety of flavors, these cat treats are nutritionally complete. Unlike most treats, they can serve as a partial replacement for meals, though the producer recommends replacing no more than 1/4 cup of Whiskas Meaty Selections Food for Cats. Other replacements may not be quite as appropriate.
- Variety of flavors is excellent for finding out what your cat likes
- Nutritionally complete, with mild dental benefits
- Less than two calories each
- If your cat only likes one flavor, you’ll have a lot of wasted treats
- Some cats dislike filled centers
- Expensive and limited when used as a meal replacement
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Feline Cat Treats Check Price
For cats with health problems, medical treats are one of the best things you can give them. Therapeutic diets can be bland and boring to your cat, so treats become an even more important part of bonding and rewarding them. These particular treats are meant for cats on Royal Canin’s Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal plan – other options are available for cats with different health needs.
These particular treats are a low-fat, high-nutrient formula designed to supplement their main diet. While they’re just 1 calorie per-treat, it’s important to note that cats shouldn’t have as many of these as they could of other treats. Also, cats on a special diet should not have other treats unless your vet specifically instructs you to provide them.
Note: Unlike most treats, including the others on this list, this product is prescription-only. You must have a prescription from your vet to buy them (and, indeed, shouldn’t use them without being directed to). If you think these treats are right for your pet, talk to your vet first.
- Extremely healthy for gastrointestinal tracts
- One of the only appropriate treats for cats on a special diet
- Tasty enough that most cats like them
- You may not be able to give your cat as many treats as before
- Low fat content may be an issue for cats who need more, not less
Friskies Party Mix Crunch Original Cat Treats Check Price
Sometimes, you just want to get treats in bulk – and that’s where this popular product from Friskies comes in. In addition to the common 2.1-oz, 6-oz, and 10-oz bag sizes, these treats are also available in a cost-effective 20-oz jar, making them perfect for families with multiple cats.
This is one thing that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. A 6-oz bag will last a normal cat for quite some time, even if you’re giving them 10 treats a day. Every additional cat means more treats are necessary, and at a certain point, it’s just not effective to keep buying smaller bags. Most treats aren’t available in bulk, though, so it’s nice to see what Friskies offers one of their most popular products in a big container.
These particular treats have plenty of vitamins, but they aren’t designed specifically for their nutritional value. Instead, the flavors like turkey, liver, and chicken provide a tasty treat and reward.
- Loved by most cats
- 20-oz jar is a great choice for families with a lot of cats
- Multiple vitamin supplements
- Other flavors are available
- Contains artificial colors and preservatives
- Limited to 10 treats per-day, even for large cats that could normally have more
- Has nutritional value, but not actually a nutritional treat