Treats help to reinforce the bond you share with your pet.
Cats are natural hunters and they naturally assume that you are, too. When you feed her a tasty titbit now and then, she’ll see it as you sharing what you’ve “hunted” – even if you just hunted for the right treats at your local pet store or vet’s supply shop! Since cats normally only share food willingly with closely-bonded family members, this kind of treat sharing helps remind your cat just how special you think she is. Just one or two treats a day, maybe when you return home from work or an outing, are enough to help her feel closer to you.
Treats are nutrition, too
Too many treats – or the wrong kind – can jeopardise your cat’s health and weight loss success or even cause her to gain excess weight. Here’s a little human comparison chart to show just how unhealthy some commonly-fed cat “treats” can be:
|4kg cat (238kcal/day)||Average adult (165cm tall, 2000kcal/day)|
|14g cheese||=||1 hamburger & small French fries|
|100ml milk||=||4 cookies|
|1 slice of salami||=||1 packet of crisps & 28g cheese|
Some human foods are poisonous or toxic for cats, especially chocolate or anything containing caffeine. Ask your vet for a full list of human foods that should never be given to cats, but to be on the safe side it’s best to avoid giving human foods to your cat.
Cats’ digestion and body function is quite different from humans, so they should be fed a treat that’s formulated just for them. However, just because something is “for cats” doesn’t mean it's the best choice for your cat. Be sure to read labels carefully before you buy. Healthy treats will help to not only reinforce your special bond, but also give you the peace of mind knowing that you’re supporting her overall health even when giving her a treat.
Let her play with her food
In addition to supporting better health and reinforcing your pet-owner bond, healthy cat treats can also help you exercise your cat! Cats rarely exercise themselves, often preferring a soft spot in the sun, so it’s up to you to keep her spry. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but feel free to create your own games just for you and your cat to share.
Play Hide and Seek: Stash a few of her favourite treats around the house and watch as she hunts around to find the hidden goodies. Hide the treats in her favourite places to start out with, and adjust the game to her age and condition. Increase the complexity once she’s ready so she won’t get bored or frustrated. If she’s in good physical condition, hide treats in areas she really has to reach and leap to get to, encouraging her to play longer and burn off excess calories.
Try your hand at “Lion Taming”: Set up a few chairs in a circle, or use the table, sofa and other handy items. Once you’ve got your “circus ring” safely set up, encourage her to jump up onto different surfaces on command. You can do this by setting a treat on the surface you’d like her to jump to next while repeating a cue such as “up” or “sofa” and touching the surface. See how fast you can get her to learn a sequence – sofa, chair, cat tree, floor, and repeat! Once she’s got the hang of it, try going a few rounds without a treat so you don’t over-feed her, but be sure to end the game with a treat to reward her efforts. Shhh – don’t tell her this is really a workout!
You can also try using a treat-dispensing ball or toy to keep her thinking and moving. Cats have a strong instinct to chase and hunt, and this will be a great outlet for that kind of energy. Be on hand to help her out if she gets the toy stuck under the sofa or caught up on the rug.
Using high-quality low fat or low calorie treats or kibble is key, since these help support weight loss success and help prevent weight gain.
Keep her on her toes, strengthen your bond, and exercise her problem-solving skills at the same time through some fun games. Get creative! She’ll find the treats motivating, while you stay entertained by her antics.