How Many Treats is Too Many? The Surprising Answer for Your Cat’s Health


Determining the right amount of treats to give your cat is an important part of maintaining their health and happiness. Too many treats can lead to weight gain, dental problems, and digestive issues. On the other hand, the occasional treat in moderation can be a vital part of training, enrichment, and strengthening the human-feline bond.

There are many factors to consider when deciding how many treats to give your cat in a day. These include the cat’s size, age, activity level, caloric needs, dental health, food allergies/intolerances, and behavioral needs. The optimal daily treat amount can vary widely between cats based on these considerations. The key is finding the right balance between showing affection and responsibly caring for your cat’s health.

Ideal Daily Treat Amount

The ideal daily treat amount for an adult cat is around 10-15 treats per day, which should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake (Purina). Giving too many treats can lead to obesity and other health problems in cats. Cats have a tendency to overeat treats if given unlimited access, so it’s best to limit treats to a healthy amount per day.

According to experts, the daily treat amount will depend on the size and calorie content of the treats, as well as your cat’s size, age, and activity level. For example, a 5 pound cat can have around 15-20 small, low calorie treats per day. However, giving more than 20-30 treats for a cat per day is generally not recommended, as this may promote weight gain (WebMD).

While an occasional extra treat is probably fine, regularly giving too many treats every day can lead to obesity, dental problems, and other health issues over time. Stick within the 10-15 treat per day recommendation for optimal health.

Treat Ingredients Matter

When selecting treats for your cat, it’s important to read the ingredient list and understand what’s inside. Some ingredients are more calorie-dense or less healthy than others.

For example, treats high in fat or made mostly of white flour can pack a lot of calories into a small treat. Look for treats made from lean meats, vegetables, and whole grains instead (1).

Some ingredients are also better for your cat’s dental health. Crunchy treats made with fiber sources like cellulose can help scrape tartar off teeth. Stay away from sticky, chewy treats that can get lodged in teeth (2).

Avoid treats with a lot of carbohydrates, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Seek out all-natural, high-protein treats without unnecessary fillers. Paying attention to the ingredients can help you find healthy, low-calorie options for your cat.




Watch the Calories

Overfeeding can easily lead to obesity in cats. Studies estimate that up to 63% of pet cats worldwide are overweight or obese. This excess weight puts cats at risk for many health problems including diabetes, joint disease, and heart disease. Feeding too many treats on top of their regular food is a major factor in feline obesity.

Treats should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake. While treats can be used for training and enrichment purposes, be mindful of the extra calories. Obesity causes inflammation which stresses the body and leads to disease. Keep treats as a small part of your cat’s diet.

Consider Dental Health

Dental health is very important for cats. According to UniquelyCats, poor dental care can lead to serious health problems like kidney disease, heart disease, and diabetes. Tartar buildup also causes gum inflammation, infections, and tooth decay. Some treats like dental treats or treats containing chlorhexidine can help clean teeth and reduce plaque while your cat chews. The mechanical action of chewing crunchy treats helps scrub away tartar. Just be mindful of calories and ingredients. Vet recommended dental treats in moderation can clean teeth without having to brush. Regular professional cleanings are still needed for optimal dental health.

Factor In Other Food

Kittens generally require more calories per day for healthy growth and development compared to adult cats. If you are feeding your kitten wet food or a combination of wet and dry food, you will likely need to reduce the number of treats you provide throughout the day.

Wet food tends to be more calorically dense than dry kibble. Just a couple ounces of wet food can provide the calories of 1/4 cup of dry food. Since kittens need more calories and nutrition compared to adult cats, wet food is a great way to meet those needs efficiently. Providing too many treats on top of wet food can lead to overfeeding.

One study found that kittens fed primarily wet food reached a healthy weight faster than kittens fed only dry food (1). This is likely because wet food is generally higher in protein and fat than dry food. Kittens need extra protein for muscle growth and fat for energy.

If your kitten is eating wet food, limit treats to just 1-2 per day. You’ll want to ensure the majority of calories are coming from the nutrient-dense wet food, not empty treat calories. Monitor your kitten’s weight and adjust food accordingly.



Training Treats

When giving treats for training purposes, it’s best to use small treats that can easily be broken into pieces 1. Small, bite-sized treats allow you to reward your cat frequently during a training session without giving too many calories. Breaking treats into tiny pieces also allows you to stretch out a bag of treats for longer.

Look for small, pea-sized treats that can be broken into even smaller bits. Soft treats are easier to break into small pieces compared to crunchy biscuits. When training a cat, give a treat piece after each successful repetition of a trick or skill you’re teaching. Keep training sessions short, around 5-10 minutes, to avoid overfeeding treats.

Consider Feline Behavior

Some cats are more prone to overeating than others. This is especially true for cats that have experienced food scarcity in the past and may overeat out of fear that food will not always be available. Additionally, inactive cats or cats that get bored easily may constantly beg and overeat treats out of boredom. Instead of using food and treats to occupy their time, provide interactive toys and activities to stimulate them mentally and physically.

Regular play sessions with interactive toys like balls, feather wands, treat puzzles, and laser pointers can satisfy a cat’s instincts to hunt, chase, and pounce. Rotate the toys to keep them interesting and interactive. This type of play provides mental stimulation and an outlet for energy, which means your cat will be less focused on begging for treats between meals.

You can also incorporate their regular treat allowance into some of these play sessions. For example, feed treats through treat balls or puzzles, or toss treats across the room for your cat to chase. This allows your cat to earn treats through activity and play.

Store Treats Properly

Proper storage of cat treats is important to maintain freshness and keep treats out of reach from cats. The FDA recommends refrigerating or discarding unused wet and canned treats, and storing dry treats in a cool, dry area below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (FDA). Dry treats should be stored in their original bag or an airtight container. Plastic containers made specifically for pet food storage are ideal, as they keep out moisture and pests (WikiHow). Placing a piece of tape over the closure of bags provides an extra moisture barrier. Storing treats in the freezer can extend their shelf life, but avoid repeatedly freezing and thawing them.

It’s also important to keep treats secured and out of reach from cats. Store treats up high or in a cabinet cats can’t access. Pet-proof containers with locking lids provide extra security. Automatic treat dispensers allow measured portions to be given on a schedule. Proper storage prevents treats from going stale or rancid, maintains nutritional value, and keeps treats safe from cats that may overindulge.


To recap the main points, providing treats in moderation is ideal for cats. Allow no more than 10% of a cat’s daily calorie intake to come from treats. Focus on high-quality, natural treats with minimal added ingredients. Consider dental health when choosing chewy or crunchy treats. Factor treats into the overall diet to avoid overfeeding. Limit treats used for training sessions. Understand a cat’s behavior and needs when determining appropriate treat amounts. Store treats properly to preserve freshness and nutritional value. Monitor a cat’s health and weight while adjusting treats as needed.

Providing the right treat amount in a cat’s diet promotes good health and happiness. Treats given judiciously can be an enriching part of a cat’s routine without leading to obesity or other issues. As with any diet, cats have unique needs, so consult a veterinarian to determine suitable treat guidelines. When used appropriately alongside balanced nutrition and exercise, treats can be a fun and safe way to bond with feline companions.

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