We know the reaction cats have to catnip—a perfectly normal feline suddenly goes wild due to the oil in catnip interacting with the cat’s nasal tissue. Cats may get sent to another dimension by a little leafy treat, but there are other ways to reward behavior and strengthen the bond between cats and owners—through healthy, protein-based snacks.
Treat Tips for a Healthy Cat
Treats are a “sometimes food” for humans large and small, and it is no different for cats. Though cats may come sprinting as soon as you pick up the treat bag, maintaining a healthy diet where treats are only a small part of overall calorie intake is crucial to keeping cats healthy.
Small changes in ingredients can make a big difference in how pet food and treats affect the overall health of pets. Compared to humans, cats have specifically tuned digestive systems that are designed to respond well to specific types of food. This means more care should be taken in planning a cat’s diet.
Cats need a high protein diet to stay on top of their game. Even cuddly house cats don’t stop being carnivores, and a healthy cat diet reflects this. For consumers, this could result in a lot of expense and inconvenience in finding and preparing such a diet. Finding food and treats with a variety of freeze-dried natural proteins is the next best option.
What is inside a cat treat is certainly important. How often treats are given is equally important, as treats should be no more than 10% of a cat’s diet. This can be hard to manage as many cats need fewer calories than owners might expect. Giving treats, even as positive reinforcement, can easily stack on the calories. This makes it even more important that every ingredient used in a treat is packed with nutrients a cat needs and free of fillers that waste calories.
Using treats to train dogs is one of the best ways to get Fido to sit, shake, or do whatever else we dream up for them to do. This kind of training is not likely to work as well with many cats. Training for specific behavior may not be the goal, but there are plenty of reasons owners give cats something tasty from time to time.
Using treats to disguise medicine is one common use case for cat treats. At some point in their lives, every cat will need to take medication. Often, giving pets medication can be a chore, or even downright impossible, if your furry friend knows what is coming. Distracting a cat by hiding the medication inside a tasty treat is a great solution. A treat with more natural and whole ingredients will perform even better for this job, as the natural odors of raw, healthy ingredients are more likely to attract a cat’s attention. It is an even greater bonus for pet owners if they know they are not only succeeding in keeping their cats on a schedule of medication, but also sneaking in a healthy snack along the way.
Treats can also be used during grooming or other uncomfortable care settings where a cat might not react well to being handled. This can certainly be the case for brushing, grooming, cleaning out a cat’s ears, or getting their claws trimmed.
Trips to the vet are also a great time to bring treats into the picture. Since many pets experience anxiety in a clinical setting, having a little something appetizing and healthy to give them can help lower the animal’s anxiety and build trust between the cat and veterinary staff. These moments can also be a good chance to introduce pet owners to new, healthy alternatives to treats they may have been using. Seeing their cat react well to a new chewy treat is a perfect time for a vet or vet tech to recommend switching to a healthier, more natural, tastier reward for their cat.
Dental treats are another area where treats can be used to improve overall cat health. Dental care is often an overlooked area of pet care, and specifically formulated dental cat treats are designed to help clean a cat's teeth. Feline Greenies Dental Treats Savory Salmon Flavor is an example of one such treat. These crunchy cat treats may have a long ingredient list, but they are intended to be more than just a tempting snack for felines.
Which Cat Treats are Healthy?
Just like humans, cats will often be healthiest when they are eating a balanced diet with appropriate levels of natural proteins and carbs. Consumers have more and more choice in the products they feed to their pets. These can range from options with dozens of ingredients to products that contain nothing but pure freeze-dried meat.
As many people have begun to adopt high-protein, low-carb diets that feature more plant-based protein, there has been an increase in similar diets for pets. People can get caught in fads, though, and the food we feed our pets is no different. Grain-free and gluten-free cat foods and treats are becoming more popular, but this does not necessarily mean they are automatically a healthier choice for pets.
At the far end of the natural cat treat spectrum lie options like PureBites. Their Freeze Dried Chicken Breast Treats, for example, contain only pure, raw, human grade chicken breast. Similarly, their tuna cat treats are made of nothing but wild-caught yellowfin tuna. These treats should still only be fed to cats occasionally as part of their overall diet, but concerned pet owners can feed pets these treats with the confidence of knowing exactly what these treats contain.
In products such as Orijen's Tundra cat treats, the ingredient list contains a wide variety of real animal protein sources and no fillers. Unlike other treats that try to make their treats appealing by adding chicken, turkey, or salmon flavor, treats from Orijen and other similar companies are almost 100% animal protein.
There can be healthy cat treats that do contain other products besides meat. Blue Buffalo, for example, has chicken cat treats that are primarily made of chicken and duck. Their treats also contain potatoes instead of grains, which is common in some cat food products. Food allergies do occur in cats, and if there is a chance your cat is having trouble with gluten, treats containing potatoes rather than wheat may be what you need.
Specialty foods like GREENIES™ SMARTBITES™ Hairball Control Treats claim to promote digestive health in cats. Though they are designed to help control the formation of hairballs, these treats contain whole grain, as well as a long list of other ingredients. These treats are distinguished from other, simpler treats due to their intended use.
Cat treats from large, well-known manufacturers like Purina-owned Friskies contain animal protein of various kinds. Keeping a cat lean and healthy requires managing their intake of nutrients, so it is important to be careful about only feeding cats the specific ingredients most beneficial for them.
An often overlooked benefit of treats is providing adding various minerals and vitamins that may be lacking a cat’s diet. Friskies Party Mix treats have a longer list of animal meals and meats in their ingredient list, but they also contain many minerals and vitamins not explicitly listed in other, more raw treat options. These treats also contain pea starches, corn gluten meal and flour, all of which are opportunities to introduce healthy, conscientiously sourced ingredients.
Looking over some of these options, it would be easy to think natural cat treats containing only meat is the healthiest option. Digging deeper, there is research to support a broader range of ingredients in a cat’s diet. Many healthy cat treats that tout their gluten or grain-free status contain a wide variety of other ingredients such as peas, apples, and carrots. Knowing these ingredients have been grown and processed with the best possible quality can provide opportunities to market the full scope of your commitment to producing healthy finished products.
Whether you are a producer looking to formulate a product or a consumer trying to make a wise choice for his or her pet, it is essential to remember the value of the final product lies in the quality of the ingredients. This is why Silva works hard to ensure every step of the production process for ingredients like our sweet potatoes (orange and purple), carrots, and peas is as high-quality and nutritious as possible.
The Perks of Air-Dried Ingredients in Cat Treats
Just like human food, the more processing and manufacturing involved in making cat food, the less healthy it is likely to be. Preserving the natural enzymes and amino acids in base ingredients directly impacts the quality and nutrition of the finished product. For animal proteins like whitefish, tuna, chicken, or duck liver, this means freeze-drying. For other ingredients like carrots, peas, or apples, this means air drying. These processes are used in some of the best cat treats available, and for good reason.
Some manufactured cat treats are made with a process known as extrusion. This process involves combining the raw ingredients of a treat and grinding them together while cooking the mixture at high heat. This can make a treat that is easy and cheap to produce, but the final product has lost much of the nutritional value that may have existed in the individual ingredients.
Air drying, by contrast, preserves the nutritional value of fruits, grains, and vegetables. Air drying (also known as dehydrating) these ingredients allows for many of the important enzymes cats needs to remain intact through the production process. This must be done under exacting conditions, as temperature and time can radically affect the nutritional quality of the final product. Silva’s commitment to quality in our production process helps to ensure our products meet the highest standards of consistency and nutritional quality.
Quality ingredients make for a much healthier treat, and will also make for a happier cat; air dried ingredients can make for a treat cats will love and cat owners can feel confident about buying.
Quality ingredients make for a much healthier treat, and will also make for a happier cat. Supporting freeze-dried protein sources with nutritious, air dried ingredients can make for a treat cats will love and cat owners can feel confident about buying.
Quality Sourcing and Production
Whether you are producing products for humans or animals, there is nothing more important than knowing where your ingredients are coming from. Being able to certify the source of your ingredients and have visibility into the production process for each of the ingredients you include in your finished products is crucial.
This is even more true today as consumers are becoming more and more conscious of what they are eating and what they are giving their pets. As the trend toward more healthy human food continues, people are becoming more and more insistent on only giving good quality ingredients to their pets as well.
At Silva, our field to finish supply chain is based around giving you the assurance you need to promote your products with confidence. From cleaning and sorting to cutting and blending, we ensure our products meet the strictest standards for quality.
Our state-of-the-art steam sterilization process helps to greatly reduce the levels of biological contaminants that could make it through a conventional production process. This validated sterilization helps to ensure harmful microbiological agents do not enter your final product. For both animal and human food, there is no excuse for allowing contaminants into your end product that could sicken or injure anyone, or any animal, that might consume your product.
How Do You Choose Healthy Cat Treats?
This comes down to one simple answer: natural ingredients. Since managing a cat’s calorie intake is imperative to ward off unhealthy weight gain, especially in older animals, you need to make every calorie count. Treats should only be a small part of a cat’s overall diet, but these calories add up. Every opportunity for a cat to get a treat is a chance to make a pet healthier or simply add empty calories. Producing treats packed with the best possible ingredients is the best way to help owners have confidence they are not only rewarding their pets but keeping them as healthy as possible in the process.
Whether you are producing or selecting healthy cat treats, it is important to find an option that has natural ingredients and no fillers. The market is filling quickly with more raw-meat options, but there is still room for meat-based treats backed by natural vegetable products added to provide texture, protein, and other benefits.
The bottom line is simple: knowing you can count on the quality of your ingredients means you can count on the quality of your final product. With some consumers as concerned about what they give their pets as they would be feeding their children, it pays to know you have only the best ingredients in your products.
Silva’s field to finish supply chain can help you stay informed about where your ingredients are coming from, how they are prepared and what nutritional value they can offer. Not only does this information give you confidence about your product, but it also gives you information your customers are hungry for as they search for healthy products to feed their pets.
Talk to a member of Silva’s sales team today to find out more about the benefits of including our nutritious ingredients in your products. Packing vitamins and protein in every bite of your product is always important for a pet’s health, and it can also work wonders for your customers’ peace of mind.