Go Beyond Cat Food. 7 Tasty Treats Your Cat Will Love


Commercial cat food is formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for cats based on scientific research about their dietary needs. Dry and wet cat foods contain protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients cats require in appropriate proportions.

However, some cat owners wonder if human food or other alternatives can be fed to their cats exclusively or in addition to cat food. While small amounts of human food may be safe for cats, meeting all of a cat’s nutritional needs with homemade food or people food is challenging. Understanding the options and issues involved with alternatives to cat food can help cat owners make informed choices.

Dry Cat Food

Dry cat food typically contains 6-10% moisture and is made of vegetable protein, meat protein, grains, and by-products (Petfinder). It comes in kibble or pellet form. Dry food is the most popular type of cat food due to its convenience, dental health benefits, and typically lower cost compared to wet food.

Some of the benefits of feeding dry cat food include:

  • Crunchy texture helps clean teeth and prevent tartar buildup (Petfinder)
  • Lower calorie density helps cats feel full on fewer calories (Petfinder)
  • Kibble can be left out for periods of time unlike wet food (Petfinder)
  • Typically more affordable per ounce compared to wet food

Some downsides of dry cat food include:

  • Higher carbohydrate content from grains and vegetables
  • Lower moisture content requires cats to drink more water
  • Some cats dislike the texture or find it difficult to chew

When choosing a dry cat food, look for high-quality ingredients with meat or fish as the first ingredient. Avoid foods with high amounts of fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. It’s also important to pick an age-appropriate formula catered to your cat’s life stage and activity level.

Wet Cat Food

Wet or canned cat food typically contains around 75% moisture, versus only 10% for dry food. It often has more animal protein and fewer carbohydrates than dry food. The main advantages of wet food are:

  • Higher moisture content helps cats stay hydrated.
  • Usually has more animal-based protein.
  • Typically lower in carbohydrates than dry food.
  • Stronger smell and flavor cats tend to enjoy.

However, there are some downsides to wet food as well:

  • More expensive per calorie than dry food.
  • Spoils quickly after opening, so must be refrigerated and discarded within a few days.
  • Not convenient for free-feeding cats.
  • Higher moisture content means smaller portion sizes.

According to veterinarian experts, wet food should make up at least 25% of a cat’s daily calories to support hydration. Feeding some wet food also encourages increased water intake (https://www.thesprucepets.com/how-much-canned-food-to-feed-554404).

Homemade Cat Food

Many cat owners choose to make homemade cat food for their feline companions. Homemade cat food has some advantages and disadvantages compared to commercial cat food.

Some of the pros of homemade cat food include: [1]

  • You control the ingredients, allowing you to avoid fillers, by-products, and artificial preservatives
  • Can be tailored to your cat’s individual nutritional needs or health issues
  • Appealing smell and taste

However, there are also some cons to consider: [2]

  • Time consuming to prepare
  • Difficult to create balanced nutrition without veterinary guidance
  • Risk of foodborne illness if preparation and storage not done properly

When making homemade cat food, it’s important to consult your veterinarian, choose recipes formulated by a credentialed veterinary nutritionist, and follow safety guidelines. Here are a couple vet-approved recipes to try:

Chicken and Rice Recipe

Ingredients: 1 boneless chicken breast, 1/4 cup cooked rice, 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Instructions: Cook ingredients and finely chop chicken into bite-sized pieces. Combine and store unused portions in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Turkey and Carrot Recipe

Ingredients: 2 oz turkey meat, 1/4 cup carrots, 2 tbsp water

Instructions: Steam carrots until soft. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency. Refrigerate unused portions.

When feeding homemade food, remember to also provide fresh water and supplement with additional taurine, vitamins, and minerals as needed.

Human Foods

Cats can eat some human foods as part of their diet, as long as they are given in moderation. Some human foods are perfectly safe for cats to eat, while others should be avoided. Here are some of the most common human foods that cats can eat:

Lean Meats: Cooked, unseasoned chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, and fish are good options. Cats are obligate carnivores and need meat in their diets. Just be sure to avoid fatty cuts of meat and remove any bones, which can be a choking hazard [1].

Eggs: Cooked eggs are a great source of protein for cats. Eggs should be fully cooked with no runny yolks, as raw eggs may contain salmonella bacteria. Only give cats small amounts of eggs, as too much can lead to biotin deficiency [2].

Vegetables: Cats can eat small amounts of blanched vegetables like broccoli, green beans, and carrots. Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. But don’t overdo it, as too much fiber can cause gastrointestinal issues [3].

Unsafe Foods

There are certain human foods that should never be fed to cats as they are toxic and can cause serious health issues. Some of the most dangerous foods for cats include:

Chocolate – Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to cats. Even small amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and even death.[1]

Onions and garlic – Onions, garlic, shallots, and scallions can damage red blood cells in cats, causing anemia. Onion toxicity can cause lethargy, elevated heart rate, pale gums, vomiting, and diarrhea.[2]

Grapes and raisins – Even small amounts of grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in cats. Early signs include vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. Grapes and raisins should never be fed to cats.[3]

Xylitol – This common sugar-free sweetener found in gum and candy is toxic to cats. It can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar as well as liver damage. Initial signs include vomiting, weakness, and coordination problems.

Alcohol – Beer, liquor, wine, and food containing alcohol should never be given to cats. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed and can cause serious intoxication.


Nutritional supplements can be a great way to enhance a cat’s diet and support their health needs. Some key supplements to consider adding include:

  • Multivitamins – Provide a balance of essential vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in homemade or raw food diets. Look for supplements with taurine, an amino acid cats cannot synthesize on their own (Chewy, Petco).
  • Digestive enzymes – Help cats better break down and absorb nutrients from their food.
  • Probiotics – Aid digestive and immune health by maintaining optimal levels of beneficial bacteria.
  • Joint supplements – Contain ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health and mobility.
  • Omega fatty acid supplements – Provide anti-inflammatory omega-3s, often from fish oil sources.
  • Immune boosters – Include antioxidants, vitamins, and herbs to strengthen the immune system.

When selecting supplements, look for high-quality products made specifically for cats and consult your veterinarian on appropriate dosing. Only purchase supplements from reputable manufacturers and follow label instructions carefully (Amazon).


Treats can be a healthy part of your cat’s diet when given in moderation. Look for treats made with high-quality ingredients and avoid too many treats packed with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives (Source). Some healthy treat options include:

  • Freeze-dried meat treats like chicken, salmon, or tuna
  • Treats made with real fish like bonito flakes
  • Vegetable treats like green beans or sweet potato
  • Treats with catnip or chamomile for calming effects
  • Crunchy treats that help clean teeth
  • Lickable treat purees

Aim to give your cat treats in moderation as too many can lead to weight gain or diarrhea. Follow package instructions and start with small amounts to see what your cat prefers. Giving treats can be a way to supplement nutrition, reinforce positive behaviors like using the litter box, or show your cat some extra love.

Feeding Tips

When transitioning your cat’s food, do it gradually over 5-7 days. Mix a little of the new food in with the old food, slowly adjusting the ratios until your cat is eating just the new food. Drastic changes can upset your cat’s stomach.

Kittens should be fed 3-4 times per day. Adult cats generally do well with 2 meals per day, spaced about 12 hours apart. Feed each meal at the same time every day and avoid leaving food out all day for free-feeding, as this can lead to overeating.

Make mealtimes positive experiences. Hand feed a few pieces of food or use food puzzles to make your cat “hunt” for their food. This provides mental stimulation.

Portion meals based on your cat’s age, activity level, and any health conditions. Follow label feeding guides as a starting point. Monitor your cat’s weight and adjust portions if needed. Overweight cats are prone to diabetes and joint problems.

Make sure your cat has access to fresh, clean water at all times. Change water daily. Consider getting a cat water fountain, as cats prefer flowing water.

Store dry food in an airtight container and discard wet food after 24 hours if uneaten. Follow all expiration dates on food packaging.

When to Seek Veterinary Advice

If your cat is exhibiting concerning symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary advice promptly. Some signs of potential nutritional issues to look out for include:

  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Loss of appetite or increased hunger
  • Excessive shedding or hair loss
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lethargy, weakness, or generally seeming unwell
  • Skin problems like sores or scabs
  • Obsessively eating non-food items (a condition called pica)

Rapid weight changes, diarrhea, vomiting, or loss of appetite are signs warranting a quick call to the vet. It’s also crucial to seek veterinary advice if you notice any behavioral shifts in your cat, like sudden lethargy, irritability, or lack of interest in playing or typical activities. Your vet can run tests to check for nutritional deficiencies or imbalances and provide supplements if needed.

Some health conditions caused by nutritional deficiencies require rapid treatment, so don’t delay in contacting your vet. With prompt adjustments to your cat’s diet and care, many nutrition-related issues can be reversed. Your vet can advise you on ensuring your cat’s unique nutritional needs are fully met through their food, treats, and supplements.

For more information, see:

[Signs of Nutrient Deficiencies in Cats](https://petperennials.com/blogs/news/signs-of-nutrient-deficiencies-in-cats)

[Nutrition, Skin, and Cats](https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/nutrition-skin-and-cats)

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