Only 10% of your cat’s daily calorie intake should be made up of treats.
The average cat weighs around 4kg, depending on their activity levels and age their daily calorie intake will need to be around 184 calories, they should therefore eat no more than 18.4 calories in treats per day.
Offering your cat treats has many positives from strengthening your bond to positive reinforcement training.
However, it can be difficult to find a balance between offering treats and overfeeding.
Cats can become addicted to cat treats and if you don’t put your foot down and say no, they’ll overindulge into obesity.
This is why it is important to know how many treats you can give your cat in a day.
Cat Treat Feeding Guideline
Treats should only make up 10% of your cat’s daily calorie intake.
The amount this equates to will depend on a number of factors including your cat’s age, breed and health conditions.
For example, an active young cat will be able to have more treats than an older inactive cat.
Different treats have different calorie contents depending on what they are made of and they all come in different sizes which is why there is no quick answer.
Many treats come with serving recommendation information of the packet.
This will give you a rough guideline as to how many of the treats can be offered each day.
How Many Calories Does My Cat Need In A Day?
Knowing the 10% rule is all well and good but it might not be helpful if you’re not sure how many calories your cat is supposed to get each day.
The best way to find out is to visit the local vet.
They can let you know exactly how much your cat should be eating based on their health, weight and breed.
Once you know the total number of calories your cat needs in a day it is easy to calculate 10% to determine the number of calories that can come from treats.
Each cat treat package will have the calories listed so it’ll be easy to work out how many treats you can offer your cat each day.
Remember to factor in table scraps (although we don’t recommend feeding your cat table scraps) and any food used to hide medication too.
When To Give Treats
There is no rule about when you can give your cat treats.
You can give treats whenever you feel it is necessary but be careful not to exceed the 10% rule.
Some people use treats for training or rewarding good behaviour while others use treats for strengthening their bond and showing their love.
Treats are great for training your cat basic commands.
While cats are not as eager to please and easy to motivate as dogs are, a tasty snack can be a great motivator.
Reserving treats for training can help make them extra-special and “worth the effort” for cats.
Strengthening Your Bond
Many owners use treats as a way of showing affection and developing positive experiences and associations with their cat.
If cats associate their owner with tasty treats they will be more comfortable around you.
This is great to do with all cats, whether they are new to the family or not.
It’s best not to give treats when your cat is stressed, offering affection or a safe, quiet space is often a much better approach in this situation.
Do I Have To Give My Cat Treats?
No, you don’t have to give your cat treats (although many cats appreciate them).
Rewards can be offered in other ways and this is often what owners choose to do if their cat is on a special diet or needs to lose weight.
Some cats respond well to attention, extra playtime or words of praise so treats aren’t the only option.
You can also combine the treats with playtime to make the treat time longer and more exciting.
Attaching the treat to a toy or piece of string so your cat has to pounce on it or grab it is a great game to play.
Playtime is important to keep your cat stimulated and happy so combining this with treats is a guaranteed winner.
What Treats Do Cats Like?
Let’s be honest, most cats will happily dig into any food. The big favourites are:
Feeding Too Many Treats
Overfeeding your cat with treats can lead to obesity, digestive problems and nutritional deficiencies.
A cat who has had too many treats will likely not eat their regular food and may experience symptoms including:
Incidentally, the same symptoms may also be experienced by a cat who eats cat treats that have expired long ago.
Treats are not designed to be a meal for a cat so they are not complete and balanced in their nutritional content.
This means your cat will not be getting the full nutrients they need if they overindulge on treats.
Commercial cat treats can also be high in sodium, calories and fat which can lead to other health problems, a healthier solution can be to make your own cat treats.
When thinking about cat treats consider how you think about cookies or sweets.
They are great, they taste amazing but you know they aren’t healthy and if you eat too many of them it can lead to health problems.
It’s the same situation with cats and cat treats.
They are great in moderation.
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