Just like most other pets, cats love treats. Whether it is as a reward, as part of a bonding session, or just to show that you love them, treats can be an exciting addition to their usual feeding routine. Treats can also be beneficial in helping to keep your cat’s teeth healthy and be a useful way to include additional vitamins, minerals, and other helpful elements to their diet. However, it is important to not overfeed your cat and to ensure that the cat treats that you offer them are safe. These are just two of the reasons why it is important to choose treats that are specifically intended for your furry feline. But, with so many different types of kitty treat available, it can be difficult to know which ones to choose. Our panel of cat lovers and pet experts have compiled a list of the 10 best cat treats to point you in the right direction.
The Best Cat Treats
Temptations Classic Treats for Cats are the perfect way to treat your cat without worrying about them piling on the pounds. The complete and nutritionally balanced treats contain less the two calories per treat and are available in a wide range of flavors. Each treat consists of a soft creamy inside surrounded by a crunchy shell that helps control tartar build-up. The cat snacks come in a stay-fresh pack with a closable lid. As well as keeping the freshness in, it helps to keep kitty’s paws out.
Top five ingredients: chicken by-product meal, ground corn, animal fat, dried meat by-products, brewers rice
Less than 2 calories per treat
Complete and nutritionally balanced
Soft center with a crunchy shell
Stay fresh container with a closable lid
- Weight1 pounds
At less than 2 calories per treat, they are the ideal complement to your cat’s usual feeding routine
The crunchy shell helps reduce tartar build-up
The stay fresh container keeps the treats fresh for longer, while the closable lid prevents your cat from helping themselves
Contains dried cheese which may cause stomach upset
Some concerns over the flimsiness of the container and the ease with which it can break causing the treats to go stale
The chicken flavored Feline Greenies Dental Cat Treats Oven Roasted are specially designed to help support good oral hygiene. The unique shape and crunchy texture help to clean your cat’s teeth and reduce tartar build-up as they chew. The treats are made from a natural formula and contain added taurine, as well as added vitamins and minerals. They provide complete nutrition, making them the ideal complement to your cat’s main food.
Top five ingredients: chicken meal, wheat, brown rice, corn gluten meal, poultry fat
Contain added vitamins, minerals, and taurine
Aid teeth cleaning and reduce tartar build-up
1.39 calories per treat
Made from natural ingredients
- Weight5.4 ounces
The crunchy texture and unique shape help to clean your cat’s teeth and reduce tartar while freshening their breath
Provide complete nutrition with added vitamins, minerals, and taurine – meeting the AAFCO standards
At 1.39 calories per treat, they can be added to your cat’s diet without spoiling their appetite for their main food
Contain wheat and gluten so may be unsuitable for cats with allergies or intolerances to these ingredients
Some reports that the small size means they are easy to swallow whole and have the potential to cause blockages.
The Purina Friskies Party Mix Adult Cat Treats contain a range of flavors that cats love. The first ingredient in the treats is real chicken so you can be confident that your cat will love them. The crunchy design helps to keep your cat’s teeth clean, while the resealable container keeps the treats fresh. At less than 1.3 calories per treat, you can safely add these complete and balanced treats to your cat’s diet without worrying about your cat’s weight.
Top five ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, brewers rice, chicken by-products meal, pea starch
Less than 1.3 calories per treat
Complete and balanced nutrition
- BrandPurina Friskies
- Weight1.25 pounds
Crunchy texture helps to clean your cat’s teeth while the range of shapes helps hold their interest
Low calorific value makes them ideal for use between meals
The resealable container keeps the treats fresh and stops your cat from helping themselves
Contains artificial flavors
Contains gluten meal which may cause stomach upsets in cats with intolerances
Meow Mix Irresistible Cat Treats are made from real chicken and contain no artificial flavors. The treats are available in both crunchy and soft varieties so you can pick the ones that your cat prefers. At two calories per treat, you know you are not overfeeding your cat as long as you only provide the recommended number of treats in a day. The container is resealable, so the treats are safe from prying paws and stay fresh for longer. All the ingredients in these tasty treats are sourced from the US or Canada and the mix is created in Kansas so you can be confident that care has been taken at every step of the process.
Top five ingredients: chicken, wheat flour, animal digest, chicken by-product meal, pea protein
2 calories per treat
Contains real chicken
- BrandMeow Mix
- Weight5.3 pounds
All ingredients are sourced from the US and Canada, giving you peace of mind
The resealable container keeps the treats fresher for longer
The treats contain no artificial flavors
Treats contain wheat and dairy, so may cause stomach upset in cat’s with intolerances to these ingredients
If your cat has a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten, then these Grain Free Soft-Moist Chicken & Salmon Recipe treats from Blue Wilderness may be the answer. As well as being grain free, the treats are free from artificial flavors and preservatives and contain no meat by-product meals. The soft treats are ideal for older cats and those who have difficulty chewing crunchy treats. And, at just one and a half calories per treat, they can be added to your cat’s diet without spoiling their dinner.
Top five ingredients: deboned chicken, deboned turkey, potatoes, vegetable glycerin, gelatin
Free from artificial flavors and preservative, meat by-products, grains, corn, and soy
Soft, moist treat pieces
1.5 calories per treat
Real meat ingredients
- BrandBlue Buffalo
- Weight2.08 ounces
Ideal for cats with food sensitivities
Health recipe with real meat and no artificial flavors or preservatives
Soft pieces are ideal for older cats and those that find chewing difficult
Soft texture means that the treats will not support teeth cleaning or tartar control
The square shape may be off-putting or awkward for some cats
Wellness Kittles Crunchy Natural Grain Free Cat Treats provide complete and balanced nutrition that complements your cat’s usually feeding routine. The crunchy treats are made with premium ingredients and contain real salmon as their top ingredient. The treats also contain fruits and vegetables to give your cat a vitamin and mineral boost as well as adding to the flavor. As well as being grain free, they are also free from meat by-products, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Top five ingredients: salmon, peas, potatoes, chickpeas, chicken meal
Includes real fruits, vegetables, and meat sources
Grain-free and free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Complete and balanced
- BrandWellness Natural Pet Food
- Weight2.08 ounces
Grain-free treats; ideal for cat’s with sensitivities
Contains no meat by-products or artificial colors, flavorings, or preservatives making them a healthy treat for your furry feline
Crunchy texture aids good dental hygiene
May not be suitable for cats who prefer softer treats or who have difficulty chewing
Purina DentaLife Adult Cat Treats are specifically designed to help reduce tartar build-up and to clean your cat’s teeth as they chew. The crunchy treats have a more porous texture than most cat treats, which helps your cat’s teeth to penetrate the treat; making them more effective at teeth cleaning than other brands. At just over one calorie per treat, they are designed to complement your cat’s usually feeding routine. The added calcium helps to maintain strong teeth and bones, while the added taurine ensures the general health and wellbeing of your kitty.
Top five ingredients: ground yellow corn, chicken meal, corn gluten meal, animal digest, animal fat
Contains added calcium and taurine
Accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council to help control Tartar
- BrandPurina DentaLife
- Weight13.6 ounces
Added calcium and taurine support your cat’s teeth, bones, and overall wellbeing
Porous, crunchy texture cleans teeth and reduces tartar more effectively than some other brands
The recipe is free from artificial flavors and colors; making it a healthy treat option for your cat
Contains gluten so unsuitable for cats with sensitivities
Some reports that the shape and solidity of the balls makes them hard to chew so may be unsuitable for older cats or those with weaker jaws or teeth
If you are looking for a completely different type of treat for your cat, then Pet Greens Semi-Moist Cat Craves Treats may be just what you are looking for. These treats are designed as a healthy alternative to lawn and other grasses that may be eaten by cats. The treats contain wheatgrass, which provides nutrition and is free from the chemical and other potential dangers that may be found in outside grasses. The semi-moist treats are ideal for cats who find crunchy treats too difficult. They contain no artificial colors or flavors and are also free from wheat gluten, corn, and soy.
Top five ingredients: salmon, rice flour, barley flour, vegetable glycerin, maple syrup
Free from artificial colors and flavors, wheat gluten, corn, and soy
2 calories per treat
- BrandPet Greens
- Weight3.2 ounces
Wheatgrass provides a source of plant fiber and is a good alternative to lawn and other outside grasses that cats may eat
Contains real meat and fish sources that are better for your cat’s health
Free from many sources of sensitivities and allergies including wheat, corn, and soy
Treats do contain dairy in the form of dried cheese, so may cause stomach upset
Treats also contain maple syrup, a sugar source that can cause issues for some cats
Vital Essentials Vital Cat Freeze-Dried Grain Free Limited Ingredient Cat Treats are ideal for cats with sensitive digestive systems. The treats are sourced, made, and packaged within the US and are designed to promote oral health, maintain a healthy weight, and support your cat’s general health. The freeze-drying process helps to lock in the vitamins and minerals contained within the natural ingredients. The treats include a single source of protein and are free from gluten, antibiotics, hormones, fillers, synthetic ingredients, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. The natural ingredients provide sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as probiotics, vitamins, and minerals.
Single ingredient: salmon
Promotes digestive and oral health
Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- BrandVital Essentials
- Weight1.12 ounces
Freeze-drying helps to lock in the goodness contained within the ingredients
Single ingredient recipe reduces the risk of sensitivities
Treats provide vitamins, minerals, protein, and Omega fatty acids
Strong taste and smell may be overpowering for some cats
If you are looking for something different or have a kitty who does not like to chew, then Delectable Lickable Wet Cat Treats may be the answer. The sauce can be poured into your cat’s bowl for them to enjoy when they are ready. Alternatively, it could be used as a topper for dry food to make it more appealing. The recipe is formulated to contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics that support digestion and aid kidney function, particularly in senior cats.
Top five ingredients: water, tuna, chicken, natural and artificial flavors, tapioca starch
Wet, sauce like, cat treats
Contains vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics
Single serving packaging
- Weight1.3 pounds
Ideal for cats who do not like to chew
Provides kidney and digestive support for senior cats
Can be used as a food topper as well as a standalone treat
Contains artificial flavors
Can be messy to eat
Single serving pouches mean that once it is opened it must be used
Best Cat Treats Buying Guide & FAQ
Cat and kitten treats are a great way to encourage good behavior, to reward them after tasks they may not like, such as grooming, and to use as a bonding exercise. However, not all cat snacks are created equal, and choosing poorly could leave your cat with digestive issues or simply leave you with bags full of snacks that your cat will not touch. In this section of the buying guide, we explore what makes a great cat treat, the different types of treats that are available, and consider some of the ingredients that you should avoid. We also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about cat treats.
What Makes a Great Cat Treat
Of course, the main thing that makes a great cat treat is taste. If your cat does not like the taste or the smell, then they are not going to eat them, and you will have wasted your time and money. As all cats are different and have different preferences it is not possible to pick one flavor that makes a great cat treat. However, there are some common elements that you should look for in good treats for cats:
The actual size you need will depend on the size and age of your cat, as well as their ability to chew. However, you need to ensure that the treat pieces are not so small that they can be swallowed whole and potentially cause a blockage. Similarly, ensure that they are not so large that your cat cannot grasp them with their teeth and chew them comfortably.
What you and your cat find appealing in terms of smell is going to differ. However, you want to find cat treats that you can have in your home without them making you feel ill. You may want to choose treats that do not contain artificial flavors for this reason. While natural ingredients such as liver and fish may be strong smelling, they are at least recognizable food smells that are less likely to have a chemical edge to them.
Resealable, strong packaging is a must. Not only does this keep the treats fresh for longer, but it keeps the smell in and your cat’s paws out. If your cat can access the treats when they wish, it makes it much hard to control the amount that they eat.
We have already mentioned that natural ingredients are better in terms of smell, but that is not the only reason why you need to check the ingredients lists carefully. Many treats are bulked out with fillers and contain ingredients that can cause sensitivities or stomach upsets if your cat has an allergy or sensitivity already. Gluten, corn, soy, and dairy can all potentially cause issues. None of these are essentially bad ingredients, but they are things you should be aware of.
Being aware of the sources of the ingredients is always a good idea as well. The best treats for cats will have a named protein source and a complete ingredients list. They will also tell you where the ingredients come from in terms of their country of origin. While being sourced and made in the US does not necessarily promise high-quality, it does make it easier to trace back the origins should you wish to.
Whether you want crunchy, semi-moist, soft, or wet treats will depend on your cat. If you are looking for the best treats for kittens or senior cats, then you may want soft cat treats that are easier to chew, while an adult cat may want something with more crunch. Crunchy treats are great for cleaning your cat’s teeth, but you should ensure that they are not too tough to chew.
- Specific benefits
Some cat treats specify that they can help with specific problems or can enrich your cat’s health and wellbeing in a certain way. The most common claim is that they help with oral hygiene. If you are looking specifically for cat dental treats, then ensure that you choose one that is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. If you are looking for a treat to help fill the gaps in your cat’s vitamin or mineral intake, then you should get advice from your vet and choose healthy cat treats that meet their recommendations.
Different Types Of Cat Treat
There are numerous different types of cat treats available from crunchy kibble style treats to sauces that can be poured into a bowl or over food. The type you choose will depend on your cat's preference, eating habits, age, size, and the main purpose of buying the treats. The main type of treats available include:
These treats look like small pieces of kibble and are ideal for training and rewards. They can support your cat’s oral hygiene through chewing. The crunchy pieces also help to remove tartar from the teeth. These types of treats may not be suitable for a young kitten, senior cats, or those with weak teeth or jaws.
- Soft treats
These are much easier to chew but care needs to be taken on the size you choose to ensure they cannot be swallowed whole.
These have a soft or wet center and a crunchy coating. They are the ideal compromise for cats with weaker teeth or for those who are less interested in crunching.
Liquid treats are pureed into sauces. They are perfect if your cat has few teeth or prefers licking to chewing. They can be added to kibble as a food topper or left in a separate bowl. This type of treat is not ideal for training purposes and can be messy depending on your cat.
Most treats contain cooked ingredients. Regardless of the care taken, cooking reduces the quality and the intensity of the flavors and the nutritional goodness that the treats contain. This is not the case when raw ingredients are used and are freeze-dried. If you are looking for healthy cat treats, then freeze-dried treats are often your best option. They are usually soft in texture, but you should investigate their texture and size before leaving your cat alone with the treats.
- Limited ingredients
These treats can come in any of the above texture forms and are ideal for cats with sensitive digestive systems or who are very picky about what they eat.
Again if your cat has sensitivities, then these types of treat may be the best option.
Ingredients To Avoid
When buying cat treats, you should take the same approach to the ingredients as you would with their main food. While the nutritional values may not be as important, you still want to ensure that there are no ingredients that could cause your cat harm. The main ingredients to avoid are:
- Preservative and chemicals
BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) are chemical preservatives that are added to fats. Both are considered hazardous carcinogens. Ethoxyquin is also a chemical preservative that is often found in pet food and treats, it too is now deemed to be harmful.
Propylene glycol is a moistening agent that is derived from ethylene glycol (antifreeze). While not dangerous to your cat in this form, it does nothing to support good health either.
- Food Dyes
Yellow 5 and 6, Red 40, and Blue 2 are known to cause allergic reactions, behavior issues, and cancer in humans. They add nothing to your cat’s treats and should be avoided. 4-methylimidazole, another artificial coloring agent, has also been found to be carcinogenic to animals.
- Rendered fats
These are often used as flavor enhances in kibbles and potentially in some crunchy cat treats. Rendered fat is a known source of toxins such as heavy metals, and of microorganisms like salmonella. In its dry state, these are not released, but once in contact with moisture the bacteria and mold can grow.
- Meat By-products
A whole host of things can be hidden behind the term meat or fish by-product. It is always best to look for a named source of protein.
While cats do need salt in their diet, too much can cause problems. Keep an eye on how much your cat is drinking. If it greatly increases, then it is possible that the treats are too high in salt.
Cat’s do not need sugars in their diets and while natural sugars will do little harm, they can still become habit forming. Artificial sugars and refined sugars should definitely be avoided as they are bad for their digestion and their oral hygiene.
- Corn and wheat gluten
If your cat does not have a sensitivity, then these are less of an issue. However, they are often used as fillers, meaning you are getting less of the good ingredients for the price you are paying. If your cat does have a sensitivity, then using treats that contain gluten or other fillers can lead to loose stools, digestive discomfort, and other stomach and digestive issues.
Best Cat Treats FAQ:
Q: Why give your cat treats?
A: There are numerous reasons why you might want to give your cat treats. They are a great way to spoil your pet without exposing them to human foods that could be dangerous to them. If you are only using them as an occasional treat to spoil them, then the general health benefits of the treats may not be your main concern, but you still need to ensure they will do no harm. You also still need to ensure that you do not overfeed your cat with treats; spoiling should be an occasional activity.
Alternatively, you may want to use treats as a training aid. While many people see training as the reserve of dogs and their owners, it is possible to train cats, at least to some degree. Providing treats after using their litter box, after sleeping in their bed rather than the middle of the floor, or after being groomed can help reinforce these behaviors. If you are using treats for training, then you may want to be more aware of the health benefits and calorie content of the treats as you are likely to be giving them to your cat more often.
Treats can also be used as a way to help improve your cat’s oral hygiene, freshen breath and as a way of addressing specific health problems, such as hairballs and digestive issues, and reducing nutritional deficiencies in your cat's diet. It is always a good idea to talk to your vet before taking this course of action and to ask for their recommendations. If you are interested in treats for their health benefits, then paying close attention to the ingredients is a must.
Q: How often should I give my cat treats?
A: How often you should give your cat treats depends on the reason for using treats. If it is for health benefits, then following advice from your vet is vital. If it is for training, then as with any training aid, it should be used along with praise, as soon as the desired behavior is seen or achieved. However, you should always be careful not to overfeed your cat with treats. It is recommended that treats should not account for any more than10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake. Doing so could stop them from eating their usual food or cause undesired weight gain. Always follow the feeding advice included on the packaging and remember to never substitute treats for a balanced and complete diet.