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What treats can you give kittens?

17 . 03 . 2022
Cats by Fussy Cat

How to find healthy treats (that your kitten will pounce on)

Is your newest fluffy family member leaping from behind pillows and looking completely adorable?

You might be wondering, “What can I give my kitten as a treat?”

Of course, you want to treat them to a little something that they’ll love. The trouble is, from a crispy crunch to lickable pastes, sometimes it’s hard to know – what treats can you give kittens?

Can you give kittens treats? Happily, the answer is yes. But you need to tread carefully. A 2016 study found that up to 63% of cats across the world are overweight or obese. Type of diet and frequency of feeding were among the risk factors for feline obesity.
    
It’s not all bad though, healthy treats for kittens can really enrich your special bond. So in this article we’ll take you through what treats you can give kittens, and the 5 main things you need to be aware of.

What treats can you give kittens?

This question gets asked a lot: what treats can you give kittens? Healthy treats for kittens should be protein based and small enough so they won’t choke.

  • Avoid wheat and artificial preservatives
  • Know their calorie count.
  • Consider texture and flavour.
  • Match the ingredients to your kitten’s regular food.
  • Avoid feeding them human food.

But it’s important to know not just what you can give your kitten as a treat, but why it’s so important to get it right. So let’s dive in a little deeper.

1. Be very careful feeding kittens human food

When you whip up something wonderful in the kitchen, it can be very tempting to treat your furry family members to a taste.

But kittens and cats shouldn’t eat much human food. It won’t give them everything they need, and it may even lead to an imbalance of essential vitamins and nutrients. Too much human food - even though freshly made with love - will mean not enough room left for a truly complete and balanced diet that’s been formulated just for cats.

There are also some human foods which you need to be extra cautious with.

  • In weaned kittens and cats, milk can cause diarrhoea because they lose the enzyme needed to break down milk.
  • Raw eggs may decrease vitamin B absorption, leading to problems with their skin and coat. Raw eggs may contain Salmonella.
  • Raw fish can lead to a vitamin B deficiency, eventually causing loss of appetite, seizures, or even death.
  • Raw meat and liver sometimes contain parasites and harmful bacteria.

In addition, onions, garlic, chocolate, coffee, tea, raisins, or grapes can be toxic to kittens and cats.
        
We hear you: “So what can I give my kitten as a treat?”

The healthiest option for cats are the foods that have been made specifically for their digestive anatomy. Are you looking to add variety into your cat’s diet?

Let’s have a look at what you can give your kitten as a treat.

2. Be careful feeding kittens cat treats

Rachael Garley, Petcare Nutritionist at Real Pet Food Co, says that kittens share some needs with adult cats. But kittens need more protein, minerals, amino acids and some vitamins. Kittens should get about 30% of their energy from protein.

So can kittens eat cat treats?

Well, most adult cat treats are not developed with kittens in mind. They may lead to nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, and can be very high in calories. Their larger size can also cause choking. So it’s best to wait to give your kitten treats (until they are just a little bit older).

Can you give kittens treats that have been made for kittens? Yes, but make sure they are kitten-friendly treats. That means they’ve been formulated especially for your kitten’s age, with their specific dietary requirements in mind.

3. Kitten-friendly treats support a diet loaded with protein

Cats are obligate carnivores. They need certain nutrients like taurine and vitamin B12, which they can only get from animal protein. So what treats can you give kittens? The best cat treats for kittens are tasty, protein-based bites that are formulated especially for cats. Have you tried our Crunchers? They’re a hit year round. Other feline faves include our Tender Sticks, and specially formulated kibble and wet pouches.
    
When you choose kitten-friendly treats and follow the 10% guide, it means you can reward and bond with your newest family member while you also balance their nutrition.

4. The best healthy treats for kittens support a complete and balanced diet

Talking to The Spruce Pets, Dr. Kerri Blackburn of River’s Edge Animal Hospital in Rock Hill, South Carolina says cat treats are a lot like many human treats – loaded with calories and sodium to encourage cats to eat them. "This can be problematic when we are focused on weight loss or a cat has health concerns like renal or heart disease," she says. "Treats can be formulated with many ingredients and this can be problematic in cats with allergies.”

However, there are certainly healthy options to choose from, and some of them are made right here in Australia. There are some things to look out for when you’re trying to understand what treats to give kittens.

Check the ingredients

Try to avoid wheat and artificial colours and preservatives. Being obligate carnivores, cats need to eat a meat-based diet and their treats should be protein based.

A quick tip when reading the ingredients list: is meat the first ingredient? This is a good indicator that the treat will have plenty of protein.

Also consider the sorts of things you usually feed your fluffy bundle. If your kitten’s diet is normally grain free and chicken based, try to find treats that have similar ingredients. They’re more likely to eat it, and less likely to have an upset tummy afterwards.

Consider the calorie count

If you’re on the hunt for the best healthy treats for kittens, you’ll need to know the calorie content. Too many calories may lead to your new furry friend becoming overweight, which puts pressure on their organs and joints.

Even low calorie, healthy, kitten-friendly treats have not been formulated as a complete and balanced diet, so don’t go overboard. Remember the 10% guide and enjoy rewarding your growing little friend, as they get up to mischief and make you laugh.

Think about texture

The question, “What can I give my kitten as a treat?”, is as much about their tastes as it is about knowing what makes a healthy treat for kittens.
    
What does your new little mate like to eat? Some cats love crunchy bites, and others love to lick soft treats. They may even have a preferred shape of treat. (We’re not called Fussy Cat for nothing.)
    
Is your cat quite particular, but meows the house down at dinner time and tucks in without a second glance? Try using their regular food as treats.
    
Something else to consider with texture is the effect of treats on their teeth and gums. Some treats are made to help control plaque and promote oral health. These are the crunchier options, and soft and lickable treats don’t have the same benefits. Dental disease is quite common in cats over one, so it’s never too early to start them on a diet that promotes oral health.

5. You can give kittens treats, but don’t overdo it

It should be clear by now: the answer to “Can I give my kitten treats?” is a resounding yes.

But once they’re old enough to enjoy treats, they should make up no more than about 10% of their daily calorie needs. And - so they can continue pouncing and playing with ease as they grow - make sure to reduce their main meal by the same amount. Otherwise, they risk consuming too many calories and becoming overweight.

The remaining 90% of your cat’s calories should come from high-quality, nutritionally complete cat food.

Recap: what can I give my kitten as a treat?

So there you have it, treats can be enjoyed responsibly. But what can you give kittens as a treat? You just need to be aware of a few main things.

  • Cats are obligate carnivores, they need to eat animal protein.
  • Avoid wheat and artificial preservatives, and look for meat as the first listed ingredient.
  • Moderation is key. Understand the calorie count and remove a similar amount from their regular food to avoid the risk of obesity.
  • Mix up textures from their normal food. Keep things interesting with different textures and flavours that they enjoy. (But if they have a sensitive stomach, try to keep the protein ingredient the same.)
  • We have some high-quality, healthy cat treats that are carefully made right here in Australia. Try our Crunchers, Tender Sticks, or our specially-formulated kibble and Twice as Tasty pouches. Watch their eyes light up as they experience the brand new texture and make your furry new family member’s day.