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Pet Care » Your Cat's Nutrition

Supplements and Treats for Your Cat

Needs versus Desires

Not only has the market for cat foods expanded on an exponential scale during the last few years, so has the availability of cat supplements and treats. This is yet another area where responsible cat owners should plan to do research prior to adding either item to their furry friend's feeding routine.

Why would I add supplements to my cat's diet?

The keyword here is "would," not "should." Many people presume that supplements are generally a good thing, but as is often the case, too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing; it can actually be a very bad thing. If you feed your cat a well-balanced diet, vitamin and/or mineral supplementation is seldom necessary. You should always discuss using a supplement with your veterinarian before actually giving it to your cat.

A general listing of some of the popular cat supplements that are readily available today include:

  • Allergy fighting supplements
  • Arthritis supplements - contain ingredients like glucosamine, cosequin, and/or methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
  • Catnip - aids in digestion and acts as an appetite stimulant
  • Enzymes and bacteria - both aid in digestion
  • Nursing supplements - for kittens receiving milk-replacement products
  • Nutritional pastes - serve as dietary supplements when a cat isn't eating sufficient quantities of food
  • Skin and coat conditioners - often contain fatty acids
  • Taurine-containing supplements - for health of the eyes, heart, and reproductive system
  • Urinary tract health-enhancing supplements

Why would I give my cat treats?

When it comes to cat treats, what your cat wants is quite a bit different from what he or she needs. It's very easy to get into the habit of tossing a treat to your cat more than several times a day. It depends on the nutritional content and quality, as well as the quantity of the treats being given, as to whether or not your habit has become a bad one in your relationship with your cat.

While the "traditional" semi-moist cat treats are often used, treats labeled as being "all natural" and "preservative free" are quickly gaining in popularity. Some of the most common "high quality" cat treats include:

  • Cat "grass" - including pots of barley, oats, and wheat for a cat to graze on
  • Catnip - available as a potted plant, in shaker form to use as a food topping, and as ground particles to add to cat toys
  • Freeze dried treats - in fish flavors as well as chicken and lamb
  • Treats used for dental purposes - aid in breath-freshening and plaque removal
  • Tuna flake sprinkles - to be used as a food topping

Another popular trend is the practice of making your own cat treats. A number of cat-treat recipe books have recently been written and released. If cooking isn't your forte, maybe you're lucky enough to have a "pet bakery" located in your neighborhood. Ah…our cats should all be so lucky!

When it comes to deciding what supplements and/or treats that you'll give your cat, remember, less is sometimes more. Choose wisely and use wisely.

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