There's a dizzying array of options for the feline diet nowadays, and nowhere is that more evident than in the cat treat aisle.
But, with as many as 40 to 50 percent of cats suffering from obesity, cat treats should be rationed judiciously. No more than 10 percent of your cat's caloric intake should be derived from treats; the rest should come from healthy pet food.
Selecting a treat is no longer as simple as grabbing a bag of Temptations from your grocer's shelf. You now have options for soft or crunchy, "natural," tartar control, hairball formulas, joint health, freeze-dried protein treats, and many more.
How Do You Choose?
The answer is complex, taking into account your cat's special health requirements, her weight and her age. Many cat treats do a good job of supplementing your cat's diet, providing additional nutrition and benefits that they can't get from their regular food.
Treats provide the opportunity for important one-on-one time with your cat and can go a long way toward strengthening your bond. Giving Fluffy treats before you leave for work and when you return at night can provide a predictable routine that many cats find comforting.
If you understand a treat's ingredients panel and what your cat's needs are, you can provide healthy cat treats for you cat that won't contribute to obesity, diabetes, FLUTDs, or other health problems.
Cat Treat Ingredients
The bad news is that many of the most popular cat treats that you find on supermarket shelves contain ingredients that aren't particularly healthy for your cat.
Corn, soy, wheat flour, gluten meal and cornmeal are common filler ingredients in top-selling cat treats, but they have marginal nutritional value, and grains are common allergens in cats. Many have a high fat content as well.
If your cat is on a dry food diet, she likely gets more than enough of these ingredients in her dry food, and you should consider giving her low-fat, high-protein treats instead. These include fish flakes and freeze dried meat or fish treats. Look for animal protein sources at the top of the list of ingredients.
Here are the most common types of cat treats:
These are good for keeping plaque at bay between dental cleanings. If your cat is on a wet food diet, dental treats may provide a means of reducing gingivitis.
If you're looking for a treat that freshens breath, select one that contains chlorophyll. If your cat has persistent halitosis, a trip to the vet is in order. It could indicate rotten teeth, digestive problems, or an underlying condition that requires veterinary intervention. Remember, dental treats do not replace your regular dental cleaning regimen.
Bonita Tuna Flakes
Often referred to as "Kitty Crack," freeze-dried bonita tuna flakes may have the greatest mass appeal of any treat on this list. They are a high protein, low fat, no-carb treat that cats find addictive.
However, the heavy metals found in tuna are detrimental t...