Flavor enhancers make cats love cat treats. Ingredients like poultry fat, animal digest, and other mystery meats make the dry treats more palatable.
The high amount of carbs also mess with the cat’s system.
Carbs break down into sugar. And high amounts of sugar promote hunger and weight gain in cats.
Basically, cats get addicted to what is in these cat treats. But these cat treats are not healthy.
I’ve included some healthy cat treat options at the end. But first, let’s discuss what’s actually in unhealthy cat treats.
What makes cat treats different than food?
Cat treats are different than food because treats do not provide complete and balanced nutrition. However, crunchy dry cat treats are otherwise not that different from dry kibble food. Both contain high amounts of carbohydrates, flavor enhancers, and low-quality meat protein.
Carbohydrates are not essential to the cat’s diet.
A wild cat may eat the stomach contents of prey. And this would contain predigested plant material.
But this is a very small amount at less than 10% carbs on a dry matter basis.
Kibble and crunchy cat treats typically contain 25-50% carbohydrates.
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Carbs break down into sugar. Excess sugar will wreak havoc on the pancreas and insulin.
Excessive sugar is stored in the body as fat. This can lead to unnecessary weight gain and diabetes.
Companies like AFB International exist to create flavor enhancer “palatants” to spray on dry cat foods.
Cats are not grain and carb-eaters by choice. Most dry foods and treats are low in meat-based protein and high in carbs.
So companies spray enhancers on the food to make it more palatable.
This makes the cat eat enough of it so it’s actually nutritious. Again, this will force the cat to over eat and gain unnecessary weight.
The AAFCO refers to some meat meals and by-products as 4-D meats. These meats come from dead, diseased, dying, and disabled animals.
4-D meats are allowed in pet food as long as they are rendered (heated and pressurized) to destroy bacteria.
And yet over the past 10 years of pet food recalls, 98% of pathogenic bacteria recalls were from dry kibble.
Additionally, wet cat foods have many recalls for containing euthanasia drugs.
How did euthanasia drugs end up in pet food?
Rendering may “kill bacteria”. But it does not kill the drugs used on these 4-D (diseased) feed animals.
PS – This is exactly why I feed balanced homemade cat food.
Cats need meat to survive. They cannot utilize the nutrition from plants.
Whole prey provides the perfect balance of amino acids, protein, fat, vitamins, and trace minerals.
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Cats cannot convert plant materials into essential nutrients.
For example, cats cannot convert beta-carotene (plant-based version) to vitamin A. Cats need preformed vitamin A from their diet.
Animal meat is high in preformed vitamin A.
Taurine, another example, is essential to the cat’s heart, eye, immune, and nervous system health.
Plants do not contain taurine.
Why are cats obsessed with cat treats?
Cats get addicted to treats because of the flavor enhancers sprayed on dry foods. The cat’s natural diet is fresh, raw meat. Cats are not grain-eaters by choice. So companies spray discarded restaurant grease and flavor enhancers on most dried food, including treats.
Can too many treats hurt my cat?
Too many treats can hurt your cat in multiple ways. Cat treats are not complete and balanced and would not provide the proper nutrition your cat needs to survive. Additionally, many cat treats are unhealthy and filled with unnecessary ingredients that can make your cat gain weight. Obesity puts your cat at a much higher risk for several health issues.
How many treats can I give my cat a day?
Cat treats should not make up more than 10% of your cat’s daily food intake. Include your cat’s treats in his daily food intake. Even healthy cat treats will add calories to your cat’s diet. Extra calories will make your cat gain extra weight.
What are the healthiest treats for cats?
The healthiest treats for cats are made with one ingredient: meat. Dehydrated or freeze-dried muscle meats and organs are the healthiest cat treat options.
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Disclaimer: Shopping links below are affiliate links. That means, if you click through and purchase, I earn a small commission.
These are the healthiest treats for cats:
- A Better Treat variety cat treats
- Feline Natural green tripe treats
- Dr. Becker’s Bites meats and organs treats
Shop on my Amazon store for healthy cat treats: US, CA, UK.
Or buy freeze-dried meats and organs from Chewy, Only Natural Pet, and Pets Warehouse.
Final thoughts on cat treats
Cats love crunchy cat treats because they get addicted to the flavor enhancers. The high amount of carbohydrates in cat treats also promotes hunger in cats.
This is dangerous, especially daily, because it will cause weight gain.
Kibble and crunchy treats are bad for cats. Especially daily.
The best cat treats are made with one ingredient: meat.
Buy dehydrated or freeze-dried muscle meat and organ treats from trusted sources.
Include the calories from treats in your cat’s daily food intake. Cat treats should not make up more than 10% of the total caloric intake for the day.
Healthy cat treats can provide good-quality nutrition and add some fun to your cat’s day.
Need help decoding the cat food label? Grab my cat food label cheat sheets!