Cat Treats: What To Indulge, What To Avoid

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cat eating cake

Kitty treats are a great way to break up the monotony of a cat’s day. Napping, stretching out in the sun, and eating all day long can get a little blue (or so I hear).

 

They’re also awesome for keeping your cats entertained, in the form of puzzle feeders and house-wide scavenger hunts. Trying to encourage good behavior? Treats. Trying to train your cat to walk on a lead? Treaaats.

With all the fun applications of a tasty kibble drop, very few people stop to ponder their nutritional value. Of course, treats aren’t meant to be healthy, you say. But far from lacking nutrition, the ingredients in many popular treats are actually actively harming our cats. And that is super super uncool, cat treat manufacturers.

 

We’ve already tackled the world of cat food—so cat treats, you’re next!

 

 

cheese puffs cat

The Bad

 

No surprise here…Whiskas, Friskies, Greenies n’ all. C’mon, none of us thought that stuff was healthy. But our cats, they sure dig it!

 

For some background, here’s a list of the top 6 pet food ingredients to steer far clear of, from foodbabe.com:

 

 

  1. Food-Grade Carrageenan More than 70% of canned pet foods contain this additive. Although it’s linked to intestinal inflammation, it’s even found in prescription pet foods for pets with gastrointestinal problems! Here’s more on why I avoid this ingredient.
  2. Synthetic PreservativesThis is why some pet food has a shelf life of 25 years! BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, propylene glycol, or ethoxyquin are common preservatives in pet food linked to serious health issues – such as organ damage and cancer.
  3. BPAThe lining inside cans of pet food contain this endocrine disruptor that mimics hormones and can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
  4. Artificial Food DyesDo you think your pet cares what color their food is? Colors like red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, and blue 2 are common in dry pet food. According to CSPI, these dyes can cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity, organ damage and cancer.
  5. Grains Remember, cats and dogs are carnivores so their food should be primarily meat… Fillers like corn, wheat, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, and brewer’s rice should not be listed in the first few ingredients (if at all). Grains that aren’t fit for humans to eat, like moldy grains containing carcinogenic mycotoxins, are still allowed in pet food.
  6. Meat By Products – Pet food regulations allow the use of meat from animals that died “otherwise than by slaughter”. Although the pet industry denies it (of course) there is testimony that this allows for dead pets from shelters to be added to pet food, and that some companies actually engage in this practice. The FDA has also found residues from a drug that’s used to euthanize animals in 30 different samples of pet food, which is evidence that euthanized animals are ending up in cans…

 

Horrifying, no?

Now let’s take a look at a few popular pet treats and their ingredients…

cat treat chain copy

 


Whiskas Temptations (chicken flavor – one of many, all equally bad)

 

whiskas temptations chickenChicken By Product Meal, Ground Corn, Animal Fat (Preserved W/ Mixed Tocopherols), Rice, Dried Meat By Products, Wheat Flour, Natural Flavors**, Corn Gluten Meal, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Taurine, DL Methionine, Vitamins (DL Alpha Tocopherol Acetate) (Source Of Vitamin E), Vitamin A Acetate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin B 12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, D Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid Supplement), Trace Minerals (Zinc Sulphate, Copper Sulphate, Maliganese Sulphate, Potassium Iodide), Dried Cheese.

 

 

 


FYI – nearly all the “vitamins” and “supplements” in pet foods are synthetic vitamins, which they (and we) are unable to process. So basically, more chemical filler.

**Watch out for additives like “natural flavors.” These almost always contain MSG, or garlic/onion powders, which are POISONOUS TO CATS AND DOGS.

(You’d think these assholes would have a soul, right? …Wrong.)


 


Friskies Party Mix Original

 

friskies party mix originalChicken by-product meal, brewers rice, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, corn gluten meal, animal liver flavor, fish, natural and artificial flavors, turkey by-product meal, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, brewers dried yeast, salt, choline chloride, added color, taurine, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, Yellow 5, Vitamin E supplement, niacin, manganese sulfate, citric acid, Yellow 6, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Red 40, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Blue 2, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, BHA (a preservative), biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), BHT (a preservative), sodium selenite.

 

 

…Onwards down the rabbit hole!!

 


Feline Greenies Dental Treats (Tempting Tuna)

 

feline greenies tuna flavorChicken meal (while not a by-product, meal is not ideal. Ha that rhymes), rice flour, wheat flour, corn gluten meal, oat fiber, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural poultry flavor, sodium gluconate, tuna flavor, ground flaxseed, brewers dried yeast, minerals (calcium carbonate, salt, potassium chloride, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, cobalt carbonate), vitamins (vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), preserved with citric acid, taurine, preserved with mixed tocopherols, chlorophyll (sodium copper chlorophyllin)

 

 

Purina Whisker Lickin’s Crunchy & Yummy

 

Purina whisker lickins crunchChicken by-product meal, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, animal liver flavor, corn starch, powdered cellulose, fish, soybean hulls, natural and artificial flavors, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, brewers dried yeast, salt, crab meal, choline chloride, added color, taurine, Red 40, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, Yellow 5, Vitamin E supplement, Yellow 6, niacin, manganese sulfate, citric acid, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Blue 2, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, BHA (a preservative), biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), BHT (a preservative), sodium selenite.

 

 

Depressed yet? Don’t be.

 

cat and homemade treats

 

 

The Good

Sigh… A breath of fresh air. And no more small type! Imagine that.

 

cat jerky treats

 

Purebites Freeze Dried Chicken and Lamb

Purebites cat treats

 

100% USA-sourced & made chicken breast, New-Zealand lamb liver.

 

…Is that it..?
Apparently, yes, it is!

 

 

 

 

 

Bonito Flakes

bonito flakes

 

100% dried shaved bonito (fish) flakes

 

(No need to get crap like “Kitty Caviar” or “Cat Man-Doo.” It’s the exact same thing as the bonito flakes packaged for human consumption, except more expensive…for some reason. Gotta love the pet food industry.)
I get mine on Amazon.

 

 

 

Honest Kitchen Wishes Grain-free Cat/Dog Treats

Honest kitchen wishes

 

100% human-grade, wild caught Icelandic Haddock

 

Human-grade, you say? Yum.

 

 

 

 

 

Raw Rewards Treats for Dogs & Cats

raw rewards treats

 

 

100% Freeze-dried chicken, beef or lamb liver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Now that you know how to shop for pet yumsies, I’ll end this list here. You get the gist!

Remember, never, ever, rely on marketing-speak like “all natural” (it literally has no legal meaning), “nutritious,” or, god forbid, “healthy.”

Pet food manufacturers (and human food manufacturers…but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms) are constantly spouting these empty buzzwords, and are in no way legally bound to prove or uphold any such statements.

 

Your only defense is knowledge. And reading tiny, tiny print.

 

cat reading a boook

 

Further your cat knowledge! Discover the best tricks for leaving your cats home alone without triggering armageddon.

Or find out once and for all why your cats are really following you into the bathroom.

 

Got any healthy pet treat brands to share? Or better yet, any recipes for making your own?

 

Pin it!

With all the fun applications of a tasty kibble drop, very few people stop to ponder their nutritional value. Of course, treats aren’t meant to be healthy, you say. But far from lacking nutrition, the ingredients in many popular treats are actually actively harming our cats. And that is super super uncool, cat treat manufacturers. We've already tackled cat food, so cat treats--you're up! #cats #whycatwhy

 

 

(New content goes up about once a month!)

 

4 comments

  1. Ellen Pilch says:

    Excellent post, my cats are going to be very upset though- they love party mix.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      I know, my cats love Temptations! But they actually love bonito flakes more, if you can believe it.
      So win win :]

  2. Good post but dogs aren’t carnivores they’re omnivores, I’m not talking about wolves I’m talking about dogs. My dogs have ate bread for years and have lived to be 20 on average

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hi Joe! Thanks for your comment! I know that there’s a ton of controversy on the topic, and much we don’t know definitively.

      Most vets and biologists agree that dogs are “scavenging” carnivores, who over the years have evolved to be able to survive omnivorously thanks to living alongside humans. As long as a dog’s meals are balanced, high-quality and nutritionally dense, I think their taxonomic classification matters very little. (Although, side note: I have heard of vegans forcing vegan diets on their dogs, which makes me incredibly, irrationally angry…)

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