At a glance
Why give treats at all?
Treats for most cats are not necessary, and with obesity at endemic rates, the addition of treats can add additional calories that a cat doesn’t need. So, why feed treats?
- Sometimes a cat is not well, and a treat can encourage him or her to eat something
- Treats can be used as a reward when training a cat
- To hide pills or medication in (this generally works better for dogs but can be attempted for cats)
- To celebrate the cat’s birthday or another special event
Boiled, baked or steamed chicken and turkey
Most cats love chicken and turkey, which can be fed as a treat or if the cat has been placed on a bland diet to rest the gastrointestinal tract or as a way to tempt a cat who has gone off his or her food to eat.
Chicken or turkey breast is ideal, and always remove the skin and bones before you feed cooked chicken to a cat.
Most cat owners are aware that milk isn’t recommended for cats because of its lactose, which can cause gastrointestinal issues. Cheese contains much lower levels of lactose and is considered suitable for cats in small quantities.
Grated or cubes of cheddar cheese can encourage a cat to eat, or it can be used as a reward. Cheese is high in calcium, vitamins A and B-12 and also contains zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin.
The best cheeses for cats are cheddar or cottage cheese. Avoid soft such as brie or hard cheeses.
Most cats love tuna, and it is a great treat for cats who have lost their appetite due to its strong smell and high palatability. Tuna is a great source vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and protein as well as phosphorus as well as, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), choline, vitamin D, potassium, iodine, and magnesium.
Some cats can become fussy if they are given tuna too often and reject their regular diet. Tuna is not balanced or complete and can cause yellow fat disease, a painful condition caused by vitamin E deficiency which leads to inflammation of the fat tissue.
Fruit and vegetables
Most pet owners don’t think of cats as fruit and vegetable eaters, but some cats love them. Not all fruits and vegetables are suitable or safe for cats, onions and garlic, in particular, are extremely toxic to cats, grapes and raisins are also toxic.
Depending on the type, fruit and vegetables can be fed raw or cooked. Safe fruit and vegetables include:
- Green beans
- Kiwi fruit
- Apples (avoid the seeds which are toxic)
- Sweet potato
Scrambled, boiled or poached eggs can be given as an occasional treat. Eggs are rich in protein, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B2, B5, B12, vitamin D, vitamin K, phosphorous and selenium.
Prawns and shrimp make a great treat for cats, these crustaceans are high in protein, low in calories and are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. They also contain zinc, iodine, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamins B and E.
Always check with your veterinarian if your cat has an underlying medical condition, is on medication or a prescription diet.
Cut treats into bite-sized pieces and boil, steam or poach hard vegetables such as broccoli. Always supervise your cat when he or she is eating a treat.
Do not feed treats to cats who are on a food allergy trail or to cats with known allergies to any of the above foods.
Cat-friendly treats are not nutritionally balanced and should mak up no more than 10% of the cat’s diet.