My cats our spoiled. Our house is filled with toys, and apparently our cupboards filled with treats (27 at this writing!)! I went through all the treats we have bought or been given and, out of curiosity, catalogued their calorie content, protein levels, fat content and first ingredients. My cats meanwhile, were tasked with the arduous task of taste testing each treat and helping me discern palatability and also messiness.
Their priority seemed to just be taste. I don’t know that they cared about texture or look.
My priorities are different: I think treats need to fit one or more of the following roles:
- Encouraging play
- Work as a reward or incentive
- Appetite stimulant for picky eaters and unwell/stressed cats.
I feel that treats should be fed sparingly to keep them special and effective, so I am not overly worried about ingredients, but I DO have a problem with artificial colours in food (I will write more about that in the future). If you are using treats as a replacement for part of their diet, I think it is important to consult with your vet about the nutrients, but Whiskas and Friskies both make treats that they claim are nutritionally balanced to industry standards.
Having a variety of treats on hand can be helpful if you want to keep the treats special, particularly if you are using them as a reward for potentially stressful events such a nail trimming.
My Top Five Treat Picks:
- Orijen Wild Boar Cat Treats : These freeze dried treats are made from locally sourced meat. They are solid enough to toss down the hall for play, liked enough to be a useful reward, and easy to crush into powder to sprinkle over wet or dry food to encourage eating. All our cats loved these and I used these to help them try a new diet. Only 1 calorie per treat!
- Orijen Regional Red Cat Treats: This other variety is also made from locally sourced meat, so ingredients vary between Canada and the US. I originally tried the dog treats (easily broken into smaller pieces), and my cats loved them, so I bought the cat size. Like the Wild Boar, these are useful to encourage chasing, to be used as a reward, or to sprinkle over a new food to encourage eating. Only 1 calorie per treat!
- Temptations – Naturals: My cats love Temptations, but many of their varieties contain artificial colours, and reading through the small print ingredients list is tiresome, so I was quite pleased that my cats love these and I can feel ok feeding these. Good for play or as a reward. 2 calories per treat.
- Purina Crunchy Bits: Sold as a dental treat with balanced nutrition. Good sized for play, I don’t think they like them enough to be a strong reward or incentive, but because of their dental benefits, I think it is a good treat to add to the mix. 1.5 calories per treat.
- Churu Lickable Cat Treat Not really useful for play as it is a mostly water cream, but very useful as a reward, or to encourage eating, particularly for older cats, ones that have dental issues, or have a bit of the sniffles.
Do you have any treats you recommend trying?