Cat treats – How many to give and why they’re important

Treats are a fantastic way of showing our cats we love them.

Not to mention brilliant training aids. 

But knowing how many to feed, and when, is crucial for unlocking their true benefit.

Is there a set number of treats I should give my cat per day?

The amount of treats you should give your cat a day will depend on size, breed, age and health.

While there’s no exact ruling to the number you can feed your feline, they should not make up more than 20% of their daily diet.

Serving up a diet that comprises primarily of treats is neither complete or well-balanced.

The high-calorie content, combined with artificial flavouring and additives found in some treats, can lead to serious health issues, with treat addiction and obesity common problems. 

Too many treats could also result in a loss of appetite at mealtime.

If they’re filling up on snacks throughout the day and then neglecting nutrient-rich foods, that’s not a recipe for a happy and healthy cat. 

This doesn’t mean treats can’t form part of a healthy well-rounded diet that complements dry and wet offerings.

How to use cat treats effectively

‘Cat treats are bad for cats.’

This is an all-to common misconception that needs consigning to the bin. 

Feeding our cats treats is perfectly fine – and in a lot of cases can add real value to their diet – but only if they’re deployed in the right way. 

Food-based rewards are a powerful tool that can be used to improve a cat’s behaviour, show affection, and even add missing nutrients to their diet. 

Choosing the right treats for your cat also matters.

Treats that are completely natural and high in protein are ideal healthy rewards.

Ones that contain artificial additives or added sugar, on the other hand, are more risk than reward. 

Here are a few ways to use cat treats effectively:

  • Training. Cats are very trainable animals despite what you may have been told. You can train a cat to come to you on command, use their litter tray properly, or perform any number of tricks. Positive reinforcement – rewarding their good behaviour with a treat – is one of the best methods of cat training, and is also a lot of fun. Be sure to use treats your cat is enthusiastic about, otherwise they won’t have the desired effect. Training sessions should be kept short. Also, be patient, behavioural changes can take time.
  • Signs of affection. Does your cat know how much you love them? Treats are a brilliant way of showing our feline friends just how much they mean to us. Feeding them their favourite snacks will put a spring in their step, and have them purring with contentment. However, don’t make it too regular an occurrence or you run the risk of making these little bonding moments less special. Combine treats with things like massages and playtime and your cat will know just how much they are loved.
  • The occasional, elusive random treat! Too much of a good thing can sometimes be bad. Handing out treats to a cat sparingly ensures they remain special, and a true incentive if you’re using them for training. Mixing up the type of treat will also stop your cat from losing interest. Standard cat treats, kibble, raw natural foods; there are so many options, your cat should never grow tired of treat time.
  • Build up their skills. Cats are adventurous little creatures so using treats to help them hone their hereditary hunting skills is a great way of keeping them physically and mentally active. Hide a treat somewhere in the room and see if they can find it. Attach one to the end of a piece of string and drag it around the house for them to chase. Placing treats in a food puzzle toy can also be highly stimulating, and rewarding. As innate hunters they love the challenge of getting their paws on a treat, and making them work for it will slow down eating, helping prevent stomach upset.
  • They are a great way to prevent plaque and tartar. Just like humans, cats need to clean their teeth. They’re not going to stand in front of a mirror every morning with a toothbrush and some toothpaste though. So we need to find other ways to ensure their teeth and gums remain clean and healthy. Certain teeth-friendly kinds of treats will help remove tartar and plaque, and can even freshen up bad breath. Treats with added sugar are best avoided. 

Treats and a healthy primary diet

Cat food should never be boring. 

Feeding treats to your cat adds variety, flavour and fun to a diet. 

But they only bring true value if they are served up alongside one that’s nutrient-rich and balanced.

A diet that relies heavily on treats means your feline could be filling up on empty calories, missing out on essential proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.  

This can be compounded by poor-quality treat choices. Ones that are high in calories, high in sugar or packed full of additives can end up causing cats serious health issues. 

Encore treats are 100% natural. High in protein, they are not just full of nutritional value, they’re full of flavour. 

The Whole Tuna Loin, the Mackerel Fillet, our Chicken Fillet with Rosemary; these delicious rewards perfectly complement well-rounded diets and will show your cat just how much you love them. 

There are quite a few human foods you can use as treats, too, for added variety. 

Small pieces of cooked chicken, turkey, beef, or fish make excellent, protein-rich cat treats. 

If they’d prefer more of a veggie snack; cucumber, carrots and pumpkins are all succulent treats packed with healthy vitamins, minerals and fibre. 

It’s important to avoid feeding your cat scraps from the table or letting them tuck into any countertop leftovers. This can lead to bad habits, and as many foods are toxic to cats, is also potentially dangerous. 

If you do think your cat has eaten something dangerous, seek medical attention straight away.

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