Giving our furry friends treats is one of the top ways we show love to our pets. After all, humans love a tasty treat, and we love sharing them with others. Why wouldn’t we want to treat our cats, too?
Though most people don’t realize how easy it is to overfeed treats to our pets. It’s important to know how many treats your cat can have in a day, so it maintains a good weight. This article will give you the information you need to feed your cat treats in a healthy manner.
How Many Calories Per Day Should My Cat Eat?
The answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as it seems. This is the same reason that a 2,000 calorie per day diet doesn’t work for all humans. Age, activity level, current weight, weight goals, and health condition can all impact your cat’s caloric needs. An older, sedentary cat requires far fewer calories per pound of body weight per day than a kitten or young, highly active cat does. A cat who is obese for its breed likely needs fewer calories per day than a cat who is a healthy weight for its breed, even if their weight is the same in kilograms.
The average adult cat requires somewhere between 20–35 calories per pound of body weight per day. This means that the average 10-pound cat only needs 200–350 calories every day. This calorie count doesn’t just apply to meals, though. Treats should still be counted toward your cat’s daily calorie intake.
Talk to your cat’s vet about how many calories your cat should be eating every day. Your cat’s vet is familiar with most aspects of your cat’s health, like health conditions and age, and will be able to give you a good calorie goal. They will be able to work with you to make changes to your cat’s diet to help your cat gain, maintain, or lose weight if needed.
How Many Treats Per Day Can My Cat Eat?
The number of treats per day will vary based on your cat’s calorie needs. However, the general rule of thumb is to feed your cat no more than 10% of their dietary intake in treats. This means that if your cat’s calorie goal is 250 calories, then treats should account for no more than 25 calories per day.
It’s vital to remember to account for the calories for treats, especially if you are feeding multiple daily. If your cat’s calorie needs are 250 calories per day and you’re feeding 250 calories worth of food plus 25 calories worth of treats, then you’re feeding your cat 10% too many calories per day, and this will over time result in weight gain.
What Should I Do if My Cat is Begging for More Treats?
We’ve all been there, having to deal with a treat-obsessed cat. Some cats will scream and meow and cry until they get what they want, and treats can bring out the worst in these cats. If your cat continues to beg for treats after they have been “cut off” for the day, it’s a good idea to look into the possible reasons for this. Some medical conditions can lead to increased hunger.
If your cat is on a diet and being fed less than they are used to, talk to your vet about options for supporting satiety. Finding satisfying, filling treat substitutes or more nutrient-dense foods for your cat can aid in weight loss and prevent some of the begging associated with wanting more treats.
If your cat seems excessively hungry between meals, your vet can rule out any underlying medical condition and help you develop healthy solutions that keep everyone happy (and don’t lead to your cat begging for more treats every hour of the day). When it comes to your cat’s calorie needs and daily treat allowance, your cat’s vet is the best place to start. They will be able to help you determine how much your cat should be eating, and be a great resource to guide you through your cat’s dietary needs, including a daily treat allowance.
If you have a cat that you are struggling to break away from the begging habit, you should understand that giving your cat a treat when it begs will have the exact opposite effect. The cat will only learn that begging gets him the treat it wants, and you are basically training your cat to beg.
There is also the possibility that what your cat is craving for is attention and not necessarily the treats. Try engaging in playtime, invest in interactive toys, or give it access to windows. Keeping your cat physically and mentally stimulated might take its mind away from the treats.
If you manage to get your cat moving more, then it will be burning more calories allowing for a slight increase in the form of treats. Treats are an excellent way to engage your cat in play and you should only offer them when your cat is performing a behavior that you would like to see more often.
If your cat is on a diet and you want to use treats to engage it into playing, one trick that may work is to use their kibble as treats. Some cats that are food-obsessed will gladly take any “treat” you offer to them, even if that treat is actually just a kibble or two from the food bowl between meals.
Treats provide a great way of strengthening your relationship with your cat and they are amazing to provide some variety from the routine feeding times. Offer your cat treats only when they are displaying behaviors that you would like to see more often and avoid giving your cat treats when they are begging. Treats should only consist of a maximum of 10% of your cat’s daily caloric allowance and you should opt for healthy options of species-appropriate, and low-calorie treats.
Featured Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock