How to Choose the Best Treats for Your Cat
Walking down the aisles of the pet store can be overwhelming. There are so many products out there for your pet, from toys, to litter, to food, to treats. It’s hard to know what to choose from the countless brands and types offered.
What’s the best diet for cats? And how do you choose what treats and snacks for cats fit best into that diet?
Your cat is a natural hunter. According to his wild instincts, he should be spending the majority of his day hunting. That means, if left to his own devices outdoors, he would be catching roughly ten mice a day in order to consume enough calories to survive. However, your indoor cat lives a pampered life and is probably fed two or three meals per day in a bowl, no hunting required. This sounds ideal at a glance, but in reality, two meals a day in a bowl can probably cause frustration, and contribute to boredom in your cat, as it doesn’t come naturally to him.
Obviously, you can’t be expected to feed your cat 10 or more times a day. So what’s the solution? In addition to providing him with more frequent, smaller meals to the best of your ability, treats can be great to supplement your cat’s diet and satisfy his need to eat more often. Paired with food puzzles or foraging toys, adding treats to your cat’s daily routine can help to resolve boredom and frustration and, in turn, even reduce behavior problems!
As a reminder, be sure to consult with your veterinarian before picking out treats for your furry friend. Your vet may recommend dental treats, low-calorie treats, or even prescription diet treats depending on your cat’s unique needs. According to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, treats should make up no more than 10-15% of your cat’s diet. They are fine in moderation. With over 40% of cats in America falling into the “obese” category, be sure that you are not overfeeding your cat and ask for help from your veterinarian if necessary.
But back to the pet store aisle: in any given store, there will be at least a few dozen types of treats to pick from. Generally, treats will fall into one of two categories: wet cat treats and dry cat treats. Here’s a little background on each:
- Wet treats are growing in popularity and can be a very palatable snack for your cat. Delectables Lickable Treats come in multiple textures, including bisques, stews, broths, chowders, and soft pates. These also come in a variety of flavors, including chicken or tuna, with additional flavors such as shrimp, beef, duck, salmon, and more. These lickable wet cat treats come in pouches that can be emptied into bowls. They are also available for multiple life stages, including kittens, adults, and seniors. Cats greatly enjoy these treats. Prepare for your kitty to spend a lot of time licking his face clean after eating!
- In addition to pouches, wet treats also come in a tube, like Delectables Squeeze Ups. These are great for training since your cat can lick up a small amount at a time directly from the tube. These treats are also great for bonding with your feline friend since it’s an interactive experience with you feeding him the treat.
- Try a slow feeder bowl to prolong your cat’s enjoyment of the wet treat.
- Wet treats can be a lot more palatable for cats who are sick or elderly and may have a decreased appetite. The secret is in the smell! These treats tend to have a strong aroma, so they’re more likely to catch your cat’s attention.
- These treats also have a higher moisture content, so they can help to promote hydration. Most cats don’t get enough water intake, so anything helps!
- These treats come in all sorts of brands, flavors, and consistencies. You might find a bag of crunchy tuna-flavored treats, or a container of soft chicken-flavored treats. Generally, you’ll find that these dry treats are similar to the dry food or kibble you may feed your cat. Simply place one in a bowl or on the floor in front of your cat and you’re good to go! Many cats prefer to eat from the ground rather than directly from your hand.
- Dry treats are easier to use with most food puzzles and foraging toys. Almost any cat will appreciate a good puzzle toy as part of their daily enrichment routine, especially if the reward is tasty treats rather than boring kibble! Puzzle feeders come in many forms, from rolling balls that spill out treats when knocked around, to stationary toys that require pushing buttons or moving levers. They can be as simple as poking a few holes in a plastic water bottle and placing treats inside, or scattering treats in an empty ice cube tray so that your cat has to use his paws to reach inside and get them. Foraging is a behavior that comes naturally to cats, and your cat will thank you for the fun game!
- Bowling for treats can be a fun game for kittens and higher-energy adult cats. Toss a treat down the hallway and watch your cat race as fast as he can to get it. This can be just as entertaining for the humans as the cats! This game simulates chasing after their prey, so it tends to be very rewarding as well.
- Dry treats are easily sealed back up for next time if your cat doesn’t eat them all in one sitting. Most come in plastic containers or in a reusable zip-lock bag.
The most important thing to remember is that the best type of cat treat is whatever type is most rewarding and appetizing for your kitty! There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to the best snacks for cats. Go on a shopping spree, and don’t be afraid to try out several different kinds. Whichever your cat is a fan of, consider donating the same type of treat to your local shelter or rescue group, to share the joy. Have fun, and happy snacking!