How to Choose the Best Treats for Cats

You can never give your cat too much affection, but you can give your cat too many treats. Most cat treats are food based and unfortunately too many cats have weight problems these days.

But, of course, your cat loves treats so how do you provide your cat with treats that she will love and that won’t harm her?

In this post, I will cover the things to think about when it comes to choosing the best cat treats, the most common types of cat treats and what to look for when you’re making your final purchase of cat treats.

Cat and dog looking for meat in the refrigerator
There is never anything good in this fridge

Factors to Consider when choosing the Best Treats for Cats:

1. Portion Control & Moderation

The frequency with which you provide your cat with treats will have a big impact on its health. Cats who frequently receive treats may well decide to avoid their normal cat food as they expect to receive treats.

Experts recommend that treats should make up no more than 10% of the total calories that cats eat. When you are dispensing treats keep the portion sizes small and then your cat will feel like she has had more treats.

⇒ And don’t miss my Cat Feeding Guide Wet and Dry Food

Young cat eating at home from its bowl. Female hand adding food

Also, remember that cats get bored easily. If treats are provided too frequently the novelty may wear off for your cat and she may lose interest in treats. As treats can be an excellent way to persuade your cat to do things this is not a great outcome!

Treats aren’t as balanced as a meal so they shouldn’t be substituted for one. Keep treats to no more than two to three times a week.

2. Read the Label

As you probably do when buying food for yourself and your family, read the label of cat treats thoroughly. Remember, the standards for what manufacturers must put on their packaging are much looser for cats than they are for humans so it may be a good idea to check with your vet.

Watch out for additives, sweeteners, colours etc etc and check out the fat and calories for a portion size not the total pack. And check the size of the portion – you may well think a portion is bigger than what the manufacturer has listed on the pack.

3. No begging allowed

Avoid giving your cat any food at all when you are seated and eating food yourself as this will encourage begging. Also, when your cat is begging for treats this is not the time to give one. As an owner, it is ideal for you to control when treats are provided and that begging is not rewarded.

⇒ About to become a fur parent? Check out my Complete Guide to How to Look After a Kitten.

Cat waiting for food sitting like man at table
Where is everyone? I am ready for dinner

4. Catnip means never having to say you’re sorry

Our poor kitties often have to face up to activities that they don’t like – visits to the vet, the brushing of their teeth, being dressed up, having their claws trimmed – so treats can be a great way to show your cat that you understand that they have had to so something they don’t like.

Treats, combined with stroking and a soothing voice, can help calm unhappy felines efficiently.

⇒ For all things fun with your kitty check out my guides to clothing for cats, the best toys for cats, great gifts for cats and my annual cat planner for kitty photo opportunities across the year.

Orange cat sniffing dried catnip

5. Go Green

And speaking of catnip, it makes for a great cat treat. It is low calorie and cats tend to love catnip and “cat grass”. It is easy to grow your own cat nip and cat grass on a sunny windowsill or to buy dried or fresh cat nip and cat grass in pet stores. These are fantastic healthy cat treats.

But always check that the catnip or cat grass that you are purchasing – to grow at home or in a store – is safe for felines.

6. Kitty Fitness

Cat treats can be a great way to incentivise your cat to work out its body or its brain – particularly if they are an indoor cat.

7. Limit Human Food

A cat’s nutritional needs are quite different to those of a human. Cat food and cat treats are specially formulated to provide those nutrients in a way that cats like the taste and that they are easy for your cat to digest.

Cat eating piece of meat from the kitchen table

Human food doesn’t come with the same advantages for your feline so should be a minimal part of their diet. Small amounts of cooked chicken breast, fish or liver are okay on an occasional basis.

Remember that cats and carbs don’t mix! Cats have never really needed fiber – they are protein eaters.

A tablespoon of milk can be okay sometimes but some cats are lactose intolerant. And don’t forget that quite a few human foods are toxic for cats. These include raisins, grapes, onions, alcohol, slat and tea to name a few.

8. Homemade Cat Treats

There is no better way to know exactly what your kitty is eating than to make it yourself. You can cook up your own small portions of liver, fish or eggs and use organic products.

And you are obviously an expert in your cat’s preferences so you can make sure that your cat treats homemade will delight its feline pallet.

cat up close about to eat a tin of cat food

9. Treats are no substitute for love

If you’ve been neglecting your cat don’t think a treat will make up for it. Your cat will be happiest if it has had time with you – petting and stroking, playing or just hanging out on top of you. Treats are a poor substitute.

10. Go Natural

Many cat treats bought from stores are heavily processed. They can contain artificial colours or flavours and cheap filler ingredients that aren’t great for your cat. Also, those filler ingredients may well include items like soy, corn or wheat and remember that cats and carbs don’t mix!

Sweeteners are also not good for your cat. Firstly, cats can’t really taste sweeteners so they aren’t adding a benefit. Secondly, sweeteners

Luckily, there are lots of natural treat products available for cats. Check that your cat treats are free of artificial colours, flavors and ingredients. A simple ingredient list is almost always a sign of the best cat treat – as well as ingredients whose names you recognise as normal food. contain calories that are bad for your cat’s health. Cat diabetes is something you very much want to avoid.

⇒ Check out my guides to the Best Cat Products and the Best Cat Litter

cat stares at small bowl with dry food

11. Kittens

Now is the time to build good habits in your feline – but how? Treats can be helpful when you’re training a kitten but should still only make up 10% of their diet.

Cat treats can be very helpful with house training but mix them up with lots of cuddles and pats when your kitten behaves well. If your cat gets used to a lot of treats when it is a kitten it will be tough to break the habit once they are older.

12. Allergies

You never know what your cat might be allergic to. Unfamiliar ingredients in some store bought products – or human foods – may well be bad news for your cat in terms of allergies.

13. Mix treats up with learning and behaviour

Treats can be key in training your feline to be an obedient kitty. If you are looking to correct a behaviour, like an indoor cat trying to escape, treats can be very useful.

grey cat on back legs with duster

14. Mix treats up with playtime

Hiding cat treats can not only make for a fun playtime with your cat but can help it enact its normal hunt and prey instincts. Or put the treat on the end of a piece of string or use a teaser toy that comes with a treat. Let your cat chase you around to catch it.

Cats will be more likely to want to play if they know sometimes there are rewards involved! Lots of play makes for a happy cat so it is important to encourage it as much as possible.

15. Always Consult your Vet

Due to the lack of requirements around the packaging of cat treats it is always a good idea to check in with your vet around the treats that you have planned for your feline.

⇒ For everything you need to know about taking care of your finicky feline check out my guide to How to Groom a Cat, the Best Cat Brush, Caring for Cats guide and my quick cat check up guide.

young cat after eating food from kitchen plate. Focus on a cat
Where are my treats?

What are the different types of Cat Treats?

1. Catnip and Cat Grass

As discussed earlier, catnip and cat grass are fantastic treats for cats as they are some of the healthiest cat treats available. Plus they can get your cat in the mood for play – and then help them to relax.

Cat grass can be particularly good for indoor cats and older cats. In addition to pleasing your cat, it can help to move swallowed hair through the cat’s system. Cat grass is one of the best cat treats for sensitive stomachs.

USA Catnip and Cat Grass

UK Catnip and Cat Grass

2. Natural Cat Treats

Natural cat treats are low in fat and tasty. These healthy treats for cats include dried fish treats (high in Omega 3 for fur and skin), poultry or meat snacks.

USA Natural Cat Treats

UK Natural Cat Treats

3. Dental Cat Treats

Healthy teeth and a treat – dental health cat treats are a winner! Not only will your cat love them, they will help to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

USA Dental Cat Treats

UK Dental Cat Treats

maine coon cat and toothbrush in studio

4. Anti Hairball Treats

All that grooming means that cats end up swallowing a lot of hair. Once it begins to build in their stomach it can be hard to pass and cause a great deal of discomfort for your feline and be bad for cat health.

Hairball pastes, furball treats and snacks can all help move hair through your cat’s system and provide them with a fun treat.

USA Hairball Cat Treats

UK Hairball Cat Treats

5. Cat Sticks

Cat sticks generally come in one of two forms: crunchy or chewy. They are easy for cats to break into portions so they can take their time to enjoy their cat snacks.

A broad range of cat sticks is available – from oven-baked to sugar-free and grain-free. Choose the variant that best suits your kitty.

USA Cat Sticks

UK Cat Sticks

two Scottish kittens lap milk from bowl

6. Cat Pastes and Malts

Pastes and malt creams are pleasing to your cat and naturally support your cat’s digestion. They also often include vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

USA Cat Pastes

UK Cat Pastes

7. Cat Milk

I was shocked to find out that milk isn’t a great idea for cats – and that there is actually cat milk! Cat milk contains a lot less lactose than normal milk – or none at all. This is a treat that your cat can enjoy without ending up with a stomach ache.

USA Cat Milk

UK Cat Milk

8. Kitten Treats and Milk

There are also cat milk products that have been formulated just for kittens. This is particularly useful when they are transitioning from their mother’s milk to solid foods and can be one of the best cat treats for kittens. Kittens and young cats can’t digest cow’s milk.

USA Kitten Treats

UK Kitten Treats

⇒ Don’t miss my guide to buying Cat Walking products, the 7 Best Escape Proof Cat Harness options and the Best Carrier for Cats.

Tabby coloured kitten sitting up

Treats can help a growing kitten get all the nutrients that it needs – plus they are a great way to train and bond with your little feline.

Cat Treats Checklist:

In order to get the best healthy cat treats possible for your feline check any good cat treats against this list:

  1. Does it contain Vitamins?
  2. Will it be easy for your cat to digest?
  3. What is the shelf life?
  4. How long will the cat treat last once open?
  5. No additives, preservatives or colours
  6. A simple ingredient list
  7. How messy will it be?
  8. Is the aroma pleasing to your cat – and you?
  9. Will your cat like the taste?
grey cat with white bowl of cat food
grey cat with white bowl of cat food

There are so many options when it comes to cat treats. Every cat is different but you are sure to be able to find treats that will delight your feline from the broad range on offer.

Remember that treats need to be managed for your cat’s health and its obedience. And always check with your vet if you have any concerns.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on most of the links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. This will not effect the price that you pay. I wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.

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