Cats love treats, and many owners love giving their cats treats. Some cats become completely unmanageable if you do not give them treats. Other cats will beg for treats at all hours of the day. The result is that many people find themselves giving their cats treats a lot. That begs the question, how many treats can you safely give your cat per day? Can too many treats be harmful to your feline friends?
The answer is that it depends on your particular cat and how much they eat regularly. The general rule is to never let treats exceed 10% of a cat’s daily caloric intake. Some treat brands give out specific recommendations that usually come in around ten treats per day. There are ways to calculate exactly how many treats your cat can receive per day if you are willing to do a little bit of math. Let’s dig into the details.
Calculating Your Cat’s Treat Intake
To figure out how many treats make up 10% of your cat’s diet, you need to first figure out how many calories your cat ingests per day. This can be done by finding the calorie content of your particular cat food, which is usually given out in calories per cup. Find how many calories per cup in your cat’s food, and then figure out how many cups per day your cat eats.
For example, if your cat eats a ½ cup of food twice per day, that equals 1 cup daily. If your cat food has 120 calories per cup (something you can find on the label), that represents the total calories the cat is eating per day. That means you can supplement 12 calories per day in treats.
The next set of numbers you need to find is how many calories per treat. That depends on what brand and type of treats you regularly give your cat. Some treats have very high caloric values, so you might only be able to give one treat per day. Other treats have very low calories, so you might be able to give 5-10.
Are Cat Treats Healthy?
In general, cat treats are not as healthy as the commercial cat food you feed your feline. Your cat should be getting most of its calories from high-value food and kibble, not treats. Treats might make your cats happy, but they will not provide a balanced nutritional profile. Treats are fine to use as rewards and desserts, but they are not a good source of solid nutrition.
There are certain types of treats that have positive health benefits and side effects. Some treats help with gut health, others help with joints, and still more that help battle feline herpes disease. Giving treats for a purpose is much better than giving treats with little to no nutritional value. However, treats with positive health benefits are often more expensive than simple treats that do not have the same benefits.
Ways To Increase Your Cat’s Treat Intake (Without Overfeeding)
You might be one of those people who have a very needy cat that demands a lot of treats per day. These cats can be super hard to say no to, and giving them too many treats becomes a regular part of your day. There are ways to increase the number of treats your cat can safely receive per day.
First, you can switch to a treat brand that has low-calorie treats. Treats that only have one or two calories can be given in much larger numbers than treats that contain, say, ten calories. Swapping to a lower calorie treat can help bolster the numbers of treats you can give daily while keeping your cat happy and healthy.
The second option is to decrease the amount of food your cat gets every day. If your cat is eating 2 cups of food per day and is also demanding a load of treats, you can cut down the amount of kibble they are receiving. That will lower the overall number of calories being ingested which gives you more leeway to provide treats as a supplement. However, you should still strive to keep your treat-to-food ratio at or below that 10% of the total calories per day limit.
The exact number of treats you can give a cat per day depends on your cat and what kinds of food and treats you are giving. You should never exceed 10% of total calories per day in treats for any cat. That is because, for the most part, treats are not a healthy source of nutrients for cats. With a little bit of math and research, you can easily find out the exact number of treats per day your cat can safely have and still be happy and active. Your veterinarian can also help you with calculating how many calories your cat should be eating daily.
Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock