🐱 Why Do Cats Like Treats More Than Food? [Vet Explains]

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why do cats like treats more than food

Who hasn’t seen a cat that seems to go crazy when it hears the treats bag opening? I see this every day! My cat, like most cats, loves treats. I think if her diet was based only on treats, she would be the happiest!

It is so funny to see the cat running around the house after a treat but is it also healthy?

What makes treats so popular among pets and, why do cats like them more than their regular food?

Flavor enhancers found in treats make cats love these little delicacies, not wanting to eat anything else. If your pet is not enjoying its daily food, you should stop giving it treats for a while and try to buy quality food, which can be enriched with some canned tuna, if necessary. Such ingredients as poultry fat, mysterious meats, meat by-products, and animal digest make treats much more palatable for cats than a regular diet. To avoid any medical issues, you should always follow package feeding instructions before giving any treats to your cat.

Why is my cat obsessed with treats?

Let’s be honest! If we were to eat only healthy food for the rest of our lives, we would feel like we would lose out on great pleasures! We all love to eat once in a while a bag of chips, ice cream, chocolate, sweets, or cake. Treats are meant to bring a little pleasure into our lives from time to time, and so it is with treats for cats.

All pets are in love with treats; they just go nuts about them! And this is because they are specially designed to attract our fluffy friends by smell and taste. Treats for cats often contain ingredients rich in animal protein (chicken, turkey, beef, game, or fish), salt, and animal digest.

In general, pet food is not as appealing to them, being less palatable, while treats are often a delicious alternative (in their minds at least).

Pets have a much more developed sense of smell than ours, and that’s why they can smell the treats (which are made especially with a more pungent scent) long before we take them out of the shopping bag.

Why do cats love Temptations treats so much?

Who hasn’t heard of Temptations cat treats?! Temptations treats come in a wide range of flavors (chicken, beef, tuna, ocean whitefish, creamy dairy, lobster, catnip, shrimp, turkey, or crab), and cats love this variety. They often have in their composition double basting of digest (animal digest), an ingredient that is usually found in pet food. Animal digest is obtained by treating animal products and by-products (liver, muscles, soft tissues, etc.) through chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis of non-compound animal proteins. This reaction breaks down animal protein into short strings of amino acids, giving these treats a delicious flavor. According to researchers, cats are innately attracted to the umami aroma, which is produced by a high concentration of amino acids.  Animal digest is the reason why these treats (and other brands) have become so loved by cats.

In addition to natural ingredients, Temptations treats also contain additives, such as flavor enhancers, which can cause dependency. Signs of addiction in cats include whining, meowing, agitation, irritability, pawing at the place where you hold the treats, etc.

These unique pocket-shaped treats also contain corn, zinc sulfate, even petroleum derivatives, and other ingredients that make them unhealthy for our pets.

Can I feed my cat Temptations treats as a meal?

Whether we are talking about Temptations or other treats brands, these should never represent more than 10% of a cat’s daily calories, and that’s because they do not contain the essential nutrients your cat need.

Too many treats can lead to obesity, among other medical problems! So try to keep the limit of treats per day imposed by the manufacturer.

Can cats become addicted to temptations?

Cats can become addictive to Temptations or other kind of treat brands that contain animal digest in their composition. Animal digest is what makes treats so tasty and appealing to cats.

Treats vs. Regular Cat Food

Unlike dry or wet food, treats are nutritionally incomplete and often contain many harmful ingredients mentioned earlier.

Broadly speaking, dry and wet food contains meat products (poultry, fish, beef, etc.), carbohydrates (rice, corn, and wheat flour), preservatives, vitamins and minerals, water (in wet food).

Compared to treats, the ingredients found in dry and wet food are balanced to ensure proper and complete nutrition for your cat.

How frequently should my cat eat treats?

If we are talking about different types of treats, it is recommended to give your cat no more than 15 pieces throughout the day and not all at once. Overweight animals mustn’t eat more than half of this number. Obese pets should not consume treats at all and follow a low protein diet.

For kittens, it is recommended that treats should be given after they have reached the age of 8-10 weeks when they start eating dry food. At this age, you can offer your kitten about two treats per day, and when your baby cat is growing, you can increase the number to 6 treats per day.

What happens if my cat eats too many treats?

On the long run, if cats consume too many treats, this can interfere with their appetite for the regular food you give them, because these are much tastier (palatable). Becoming fussy or picky, it will be difficult for you in the future to give your cat a special diet if it has any medical conditions. Too many given treats can lead to certain behavioral problems, such as begging or aggression.

Due to their high-calorie content, treats can lead to obesity over time. In the short term, consuming too many treats can lead to digestive problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Moreover, because they do not have enough essential nutrients in their composition, your cat will suffer from all sorts of vitamin and mineral imbalances – if the treats represent a daily meal instead of the usual food for cats.

In kittens, too many treats can lead to gastrointestinal disorders and nutritional imbalances.

Are cat treats healthy?

Cat treats are healthy only if they are 100% natural or homemade. Regarding the treats available on the market, in pet stores (popular brands), they are healthy as long as you respect what’s written on the package, but I would go below that number. For example, we give our cat treats daily. On the package it says that you can give around 20 pieces per day. Of course, we never give or gave her that much – she gets around six pieces per day, often thinking that is more than enough! So, from our point of view, it is best not to exceed the amount written on the package, because otherwise, treats can become dangerous to your cat’s health.

Homemade Recipe For Cat Treats

One of the simplest and healthiest homemade recipes for your cat is the following:

  • A can of tuna mixed well with a whisked egg to which you add 210 g of wholemeal flour. For extra flavor, you can add a tablespoon of dried catnip to this composition. Skip this step if you don’t have any catnip around the house!
  • Mix everything well until it becomes a dough. Divide the composition into four and put three pieces in the freezer for future use. Spread the dough up to a centimeter thick, and then cut it into small shapes that are suitable for your cat – preferably 1 cm wide.
  • Put them in the preheated oven at 180 °C for 20-25 minutes. Let them cool down and serve them to your cat. We are sure your cat will lick its whiskers!

These homemade treats can be stored for up to a week in a sealed container.

Which ingredients should I pay more attention to when I buy treats?

Among the most harmful ingredients found in treats are salt and fat. Excess salt can cause enlarged heart muscle, heart failure, high blood pressure, kidney disease, etc. Too much fat can make your beloved pet become overweight, have skin infections, heart disease, diabetes, liver problems, etc.

Other harmful ingredients found in treats are:

  • Preservatives – butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), ehoxyquin, carrageenan and carrageenan gum, etc.;
  • Dyes such as caramel coloring;
  • Too many carbohydrates;
  • Garlic;
  • Glucose and Dextrose;
  • Glyceryl Monostearate;
  • Phosphoric Acid;
  • Propylene Glycol.

Try to choose products marked as Organic, which ensures a better quality and safety compared to others.

Always Read Food Labels Carefully!

Best/worst cat treats

The best treats are those that contain as few ingredients as possible and a unique protein.

The worst are those that contain too many preservatives, carbohydrates, salt, sugar, phosphoric acid, carrageenan and carrageenan gum, caramel coloring, etc.

Simple and healthy alternatives to cat treats are catnip and cat grass. Most cats love these two plants.

Cat grass represents one or a combination of different herbs that can be grown indoors, such as rye, oats, barley, or wheat. Catnip is related to mint and can be sprinkled dry on food or added to homemade treats.

Cat grass can be consumed as such. Many brands on the market sell cat grass seeds. All you have to do is plant them following the instructions on the package, wait for them to grow, and then offer it to your cat. We bet it will love it!

How to stop your cat from eating treats Only?

Due to the ingredients they contain, treats can make cats addictive. If you give your cat too much, it may become picky and refuse the daily food you give it. This can become a nightmare for pet owners!

In addition to the irresistible smell and taste of the treats, cats also like to blackmail us. They know that if they refuse to consume their daily food, they will eventually get something even better to eat – treats. This happens because most of the time, we think they will starve if we see them not wanting to eat their regular meal anymore.

If you want your cat to stop eating treats only, you should cut them off the daily menu for good (at least for a while).

Buy your cat quality, palatable food. If your cat no longer wants to eat dry food (kibbles), there is always the option of offering canned wet food. Or you can mix them.

Another good tip is to mix a little tuna in the dry or wet food of the cat. Buy canned tuna in water (not oil). Although it has a lot of salt, the juice can be added over dry food or mixed with wet food, along with the tuna chunks. After all, we need to be able to replace the addiction to treats with something healthier…

If you see your cat going to the food bowl and still doesn’t want to eat, take it from there and resume this activity later. Maybe it would even be better to leave the cat alone with the bowl in a quiet room. For example, you could leave the food bowl overnight.

And don’t forget, always leave fresh water at your cat’s discretion!

Patience is key! Your cat did not become addicted to treats overnight.

If you notice signs of illness in your cat, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Where to store cat treats?

The best place to store or hide treats from your cat’s ferocious senses is in a glass jar that closes tightly stored somewhere in a dark and cool place like a cupboard or pantry. This way, the treats will be away from your cat, but also from the sun’s rays that could make them spoil.

Conclusion & Vet Advice

As with humans, nothing extra is healthy. Even if they are super tasty, treats can do more harm than good if offered in excess.

It is OK to follow the recommended amount per day on the package, but better try to give your cat even less than it says.

Adult cats can consume an average of 15 pieces a day and kittens between 2 and 6 pieces, depending on their age.

Choose treats that have as few ingredients as possible and are labeled as organic because those are healthier.

If it is more convenient for you, you can even try preparing some treats for your cat at home. You will find a lot of detailed and tasty recipes on the internet .

If your cat has become addicted to treats and refuses to eat anything else, you can add a little canned tuna in water in its regular food and give up treats for good for a long time. Cats will not starve if they do not receive treats, even if you see that they don’t want to consume their daily meal anymore! With patience and perseverance, you will easily overcome this impediment!

Also, don’t forget to give to your cat fresh water every day!

I hope this article answers all your questions about cats and treats!

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