November 2008 Issue

Treats: Don't Overdo It!

Between-meal snacks should be counted as part of your cat's daily food intake. Otherwise, obesity could soon follow.

A fine way to show your deserving cat that you’re a wonderful human being is to give her a delicious treat now and then — a scrap of baked salmon, for example, or a tiny slice of chicken from your dinner plate. Or perhaps you’ll unwrap a new pack of its favorite commercial snack — a chewy chicken-flavored tidbit that you discovered on the shelves of your local grocery store. This give-and-take interaction with your cat is perfectly all right, says Francis Kallfelz, DVM, a professor of veterinary nutrition at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, as long as you practice it in moderation and with appropriate vigilance. "The main reason that cat owners give treats is to enhance the human-animal bond," he says, "and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. In fact, there’s a good chance that offering treats now and then will make your cat more responsive to you." He points out, however, that any treat should be considered a component of a cat’s overall daily diet and that, of course, it should be a substance that is safe for feline ingestion. Also, he advises, "Be sure that your cat doesn’t become so addicted to treats that it starts refusing to eat its regular food."

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