We all love pampering our felines with some treats every now and then. Whether it’s for training purposes, entertainment purposes, or just to be nice, it’s not uncommon to give your cat a treat regularly.
The market is full of cat treats that can be used for a variety of reasons such as training your feline how to do little tricks or simply keeping them entertained with a puzzle feeder.
With so many treat options available and easy to find, it may not be our first thought to stop and look at what the treats actually contain. We know to purchase healthy kibble and look at the ingredients on the regular feed bags, but what about cat treats?
Unfortunately, so many types of treats are actually filled with harmful ingredients. Not only do the treats lack in nutrition, they can include some ingredients that are downright unhealthy. This shouldn’t keep you from buying treats altogether, but it should inspire you to look a little closer at the labels.
In order to help you navigate the trick-filled world of cat treats, we’ve put together a quick list of things to avoid and some things that you can safely give your pet. Don’t let the industry fool you anymore!
We’ll start off with the bad news: almost all of the most common brands are bad. This includes Whiskas Temptations, Hartz’s Dentist, Friskies Party Mix, and others. Why? Well, here’s a list of things that these brands include, but are actually super harmful to your feline.
- Grains: This can cause some pretty bad intestinal problems in cats, but most cat foods will still contain gluten or grains of some kind. Avoid potatoes too and definitely look for non-GMO ingredients.
- Synthetic Preservatives: These aren’t even healthy for humans, so why would you give them to your pet? Treats or food with a long shelf life are really unhealthy and you should definitely steer clear of treats containing BHA, propyl gallate, BHT, or other common preservatives.
- Food Dyes: Any added food dye can cause allergic reactions, diabetes, or cardiovascular problems. Besides, your feline doesn’t care what color their treats are, so stay far, far away from treats with food coloring.
Unfortunately, most vitamins in cat treats are synthetic and won’t do your pet any good. Your feline can’t digest them.
It’s also vital to watch out for labels that read “natural flavors” as this is always a mislabeling. “Natural flavors” often contain MSG or garlic and onion powders which are really, really harmful! If a treat package says onions on it anywhere (or has the “natural flavors” label), avoid it entirely!
Here are some of the worst brands you could buy, yet are still super popular:
- Purina Whisker Lickin’s Crunchy & Yummy: These treats contain all sorts of grains, “natural and artificial flavors”, added dyes, salts, and preservatives that are dangerous.
- Feline Greenies Dental Treats: We understand the appeal of dental treats, but these treats contain synthetic vitamins, grains, and salt which are all unhealthy.
- Friskies Party Mix Original: It’s a fun treat option, but not once you see that this mix is made with “natural and artificial flavors”, added color and food dyes, all sorts of grains, salt, and a couple different preservatives.
- Whiskas Temptations: No matter which flavor you purchase, these treats come full of “natural flavors”, grains, salt, and vitamin supplements that aren’t great.
If you’ve ever bought one of the brands above or a similar type of treat, don’t feel bad. Everyone’s made the mistake at one point or another and the fact that you’re here now, looking at how to feed your feline better, is proof that you care about your pet.
Put the past behind you and move forward by choosing one of the healthier treat options below. Both your conscience and your pet will be happy!
The Good Treats
Luckily, there are food manufacturers out there that make truly healthy treats and if you still don’t trust them, you can always make your own. The absolute best type of treat is pure, unadulterated meat. Dehydrate it and cut it into small bits and your feline is sure to love it!
Since cats are first and foremost carnivores, all those added grains and organic ingredients aren’t great for their system. They’re more than happy to chow down on pure meat and you’ll know what’s in it.
It’s easy enough to make on your own at home but if you don’t have the time or materials, there are manufacturers out there that produce 100%, pure meat treats.
Here are our favorite and most trusted brands:
- Purebites Freeze Dried Chicken and Lamb: 100% US-sourced chicken breast and New Zealand lamb are the only ingredients here. Fantastic!
- Eden’s Bonito Flakes: Completely pure, dried fish shavings that your feline will love, even if you don’t see the appeal.
- Raw Rewards Treats: These work for both cats or dogs and are made from 100% freeze dried chicken, beef, and lamb liver.
- Honest Kitchen Wishes Grain-Free Treats: These treats are made with 100% human-grade Haddock caught in Iceland. Delicious and international!
The industry is, unfortunately, filled with misconceptions and tricks. No matter how hard you try to feed your cat healthy treats or the best food, it always seems like there is someone out there trying to trick you.
It’s a long, winding road out there to find the best options, but now that you know where to start and what to avoid, you can choose healthy treats with confidence.