Cat Treats and Snacks: What's Healthy?
If you're looking for a healthy cat treat, look no further. WebMD provides 10 tips for buying or making nutritious cat treats.
By Wendy C. Fries
Reviewed by Audrey Cook, BVM&S
People love to pamper their pets. It's in our nature to lavish our furry friends with treats and affection.
Although you can probably never give too much affection, cat treats are another thing. Cats can suffer from weight problems just like people do. According to a study reported by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 57% of cats are now estimated to be overweight or obese.
So, can cat treats ever be good for kitty? Are some treats better than others? And is “people food” ever a healthy idea for your cat? To get the answers, WebMD went to the cat experts and got their tips on how we can pamper our felines the healthy way.
What Makes a Cat Treat Healthy?
Moderation is key, say the pros. Although it's fine to feed your cat treats, says Marla J. McGeorge, DVM, an Oregon vet whose The Cat Doctor practice treats felines only, they “should be a very small part of the diet.”
How small? Many experts recommend cat treats make up no more than 10% of the total calories a cat eats. That's because most treats don't add anything but calories to a cat's diet, McGeorge says. The remaining 90% of your cat's calories should come from a high-quality, nutritionally complete cat food.
Cat Treats: Decoding the Labels
Learning what's in packaged cat treats can be a bit of a puzzle. “Information provided on labels could use a lot of improvement,” McGeorge tells WebMD. That's because not all nutrients are listed on cat food labels, and there's usually no calorie count offered, either.
To learn how many calories are in your cat's treats, you can try contacting the pet food manufacturer, or check with your vet for recommendations. At a minimum, McGeorge suggests looking at labels to see if a treat is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This group sets pet food manufacturing standards, “minimal as they are.”
Once you've found the tasty treat your cat loves, use these quick treat tips to help keep kitty happy and healthy.
10 Treat Tips for a Healthy Cat
Marla J. McGeorge, DVM, Portland, Ore.
Susan G. Wynn, DVM, CVA, clinical resident in small animal nutrition, University of Tennessee; Co-author, “Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine,” and “Veterinary Herbal Medicine.”
Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, “Pet Obesity Expands in US,” “Weight Reduction in Cats.”
American Veterinary Medical Association, “What You Should Know About Household Hazards.”
American Animal Hospital Association, “'Treating' Your Pet Right.”
The Humane Society of the United States, “Foods Potentially Poisonous to Pets."
Pet Education.com “Treats Are Better Than Table Scraps.”
“The Howell Book of Cat Care,” by Tim Hawcroft, BVSc, MACVSc. Howell Book House, NY, 1991.
Anthony Herrig, engineer, Oregon.
© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
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