Using Cat Treats Wisely
1. What ingredients should I look for in a cat treat?
Just like you do with your cat’s everyday food, you may want to consider providing your cat treats which are “complete and balanced.” These treats will have the combination of nutrients and vitamins your cat needs to be healthy and balanced. You should see this wording on the label of the treat, says Louise Murray, DVM, DACVIM and vice president of the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animals Hospital, and you can look at the ingredient list to determine how healthy it is. Treats that aren’t complete and balanced should account for no more than 10% of a cat’s total daily calorie intake as these will dilute your cat’s daily nutrient intake. You should also be on the lookout for treats with high amounts of salt and sodium, as they may cause trouble for your cat.
“We see cats come in because they’re urinating in the home or drinking way too much water because they’re being given very salty treats,” Dr. Murray says. “[The appropriate amount of sodium] all depends on the cat, but watch out for treats with salt and check to see if your cat is drinking too much water.”
2. Can certain cat treats help with health conditions?
While some treats claim to be good for your cat’s teeth by reducing tartar and preventing gingivitis, Dr. Murray suggests reaching out to your veterinarian for recommendations on the best treats for your cat’s teeth. There are certain cat foods designed to help prevent or manage certain health conditions in your cat. If your cat is on a therapeutic cat food or is eating a special food, it’s important to make sure that their treats follow the same nutritional guidelines as their dry or wet foods. According to Dr. Murray, cats with allergies will also need their treats to be monitored in the same ways their food is, particularly those who have severe skin or gastrointestinal reactions to certain foods.
“Even a small amount of what your cat is allergic to can cause a reaction, [so] look for hypoallergenic treats” says Dr. Murray. “If your cat has any kind of medical condition and is eating a special food, [you] should also check with their vet before giving any kind of treat or people food because it may worsen the condition or negate the effect of the special food.”
If you are interested in making your own cat treats, we have a homemade cat treat recipe you may want to try.
For the complete slideshow on 8 questions to ask before giving your cats treats, visit petMD!