By Amanda Ensinger
When cat parents think of treating, they associate it with good behavior. However, there are a variety of benefits to giving your cat a treat beyond positive reinforcement. From reducing tartar buildup to strengthening the emotional bond with your cat, treating serves a variety of purposes pet owners often aren’t aware of.
“There are a lot of reasons to give your cat treats, including functional benefits, creating an enriching experience and strengthening the emotional bond with your cat,” said Dr. Annie Valuska, Ph.D., senior pet behavior expert at Purina. “Not everyone realizes that cats (also) are trainable, and any treat your cat loves can be a great reward during a training session. While cats are capable of learning cute tricks, like a high five, cats can also be trained on more practical behaviors like going to a specific place, entering their travel crate or learning to wear a harness.”
From treats that reduce tartar buildup, like Purina DentalLife, to Friskies Party Mix that can be put into a puzzle feeder and cats must use their instincts to get the treats out, Purina Nestle offers a variety of options to treat your cat.
However, before treating your pet it is important to consider the nutritional benefits of treats. According to the Pet Food Institute (PFI), the trade association for the pet food industry, cats require over 40 essential nutrients to have a complete and balanced diet. According to its website, PFI says treats should never be a substitute for a meal, and it is recommended that no more than 10 percent of a pet’s daily calories come from treats.
With this in mind, pet food companies have diligently worked on developing pet treats that are not only satisfying for pets but also are nutritious.
“Purina does have some cat treats with functional benefits like Purina DentalLife, which are specially designed to help the tooth penetrate the treat, surrounding all sides of the tooth to help reduce tartar buildup,” Dr. Valuska said. “Each crunchy bite has a flavor cats love, so you can be sure they’ll keep coming back for more. Cats are neophiliacs, meaning they like trying new things. In addition to offering your cat a complete and balanced food, providing treats can satisfy your cat’s desire for variety by introducing new flavors and textures while facilitating valuable bonding time.”
From soft to crunchy treats, pet makers like Purina produce a variety of options to satisfy any feline. Purina offers wet cat complements to help cats with the hydration opportunity, including Friskies Lil Soups and Fancy Feast Broths. All have higher moisture content to help improve overall hydration.
As we move towards 2022, creative treats for pets will continue to be a popular trend.
“Last year Purina launched Fancy Feast Savory Cravings, a cat treat that delivers savory flavors in a special break-apart form that helps extend treat time,” Dr. Valuska said. “Unique forms [like this] are [a growing] trend.”
Purina also believes that with consumers not wanting to make as many back-and-forth trips to the store, selling treats in larger sizes will benefit both consumers and retailers. Retailers will sell more at once and consumers will stock up so they don’t have to make repeated trips to the store.