What Are The Best Cat Treats For My Cat?

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My home is a very treat heavy place and none of my cats have ever been deprived of their favorite cat treats despite what they might try to tell you. If you haven’t tried many treats with your cats yet, you may have a hard time deciding what the best cat treats are for them. While I have my biases toward certain treats, picking out the best cat treats for you cat is more complicated than me just recommending one type of treat. Here are a few things to consider.

Your Cat’s Preferences

It sometimes amazes me that people expect their cats to like every single type of treat they are offered. Think about it like this: do you like every type of dessert out there? Or do you even like dessert at all or would you prefer something savory? Chances are you have preferences for flavors, textures, and types of desserts.

Cats are the same way. Each cat prefers different flavors of food and treats. These preferences may be innate or change over time. Cats can display strong preferences for particular textures of food along with how the food is delivered to them. Look at what foods your cat already likes to eat and lean in to the flavors that they like already.

Try Tuna

While cats prefer some flavors based on early experience with the flavor, some flavors seem more appealing to cats universally. Specifically, tuna is a popular choice for a lot of cats. A 2023 study suggested cats may prefer tuna over other tastes due to the umami flavoring. If you haven’t already tried a tuna flavored treat with your cat, it’s worth giving it a go.

Texture Differences

Are there certain foods you avoid because of the texture? What about foods that you love because they have a satisfying crunch or other pleasant texture? I personally would rather starve than eat mushrooms because of how slimy they are, but could eat Cheetos Puffs all day long. Cats have preferences for particular textures much like you do and will usually like a few textures over others.

A few treat textures your cat may or may not like include:

  • Crunchy: Solid treats with a satisfying crunch to them. Think Temptations or Greenies
  • Meaty: Fresh meat or pieces of meat such as Purely Fancy Feast or canned tuna
  • Broth: Gravy or liquid treats such as tuna juice or Lil’ Soups
  • Stews: Broth plus meaty textures combined. Usually involves chunks of meat with a gravy. Divine Shreds are an example.
  • Puree: Think a thick goop like texture that is thicker than a broth. Meat baby food or Churu are common examples.

Ultimately, the best cat treats for your cat are a texture they want to eat. Your cat may like one type of treat or one texture over another or they may be like Poutine and just be happy to eat anything.

Poutine, a very handsome Lynx Point Siamese cat, sits looking at the camera with his paws out front. He has stuffed carrot, watermelon, and yellow pepper cat toys between his front paws.
He likes all snacks and food shaped cat toys.

Other Preferences

To complicate things further, there are other factors that may influence your cat’s preferences for a particular treat. Of particular interest to those of you with senior cats is the effect of temperature on cat food preference. Studies have shown the older a cat gets, the more likely they are to prefer food that is warmer. The likely reasoning has to do with temperature’s effect on smell as senior cats often can’t smell as well. If you can’t find the best cat treats for your senior cat, consider warming some treats up.

Testing To Find What Treats Your Cat Loves

It can be challenging and expensive to try every type of cat treat out there. Thankfully, you can test out what types of treats your cat likes in a targeted manner to save yourself time and money by performing a preference test. In order to do a preference test, you’ll need a few similarly sized dishes (I like this set of colorful cat dishes that I use to play pattern games with my cats) and different types of treats to try. The steps are as follows:

  1. Put a small amount of two different treats on two different dishes.
  2. Place the dishes in front of your cat so they are the same distance away from your cat.
  3. See which treat your cat eats first and remove the other treat as they eat. After your cat finishes the treat, remove the dish they chose.
  4. Repeat with the same treats, but switch which dish is on the left and which is on the right.
  5. Do an odd number of trials to see which one your cat prefers most.
  6. Select another treat and do a comparison between the winner of the first round and the new treat. You can do as many pairings as you’d like until you find your cat’s favorite cat treats!

You can also use this methods to try compare other variables that may influence how much your cat likes a treat or even help pick out things besides treats your cat likes. I have a guide on getting a cat to eat that has some ideas of other qualities you can test if you want to try different food properties.

The Best Cat Treats For Different Situations

You may need different cat treats for different situations. For example, if you are are training your cat or trying to get them a medication, a different treat may be a better choice.

That said, if your cat only likes one kind of cat treat, you don’t want to risk them developing an aversion to it by mixing a bitter medication into it. There are better ways to get your cat to take medication anyway. Depending on your goal, a less great treat may be better than your cat’s favorite treat anyway. A few scenarios where different kinds of treats may be more helpful than others:

  • For keeping your cat licking the treat for a long time, a squeeze tube treat like Churu is a good idea.
  • If you need a more solid squeeze tube treat, Catit Creamy is what I use when medicating my cats. It’s great to put on a gelatin capsule containing a pill.
  • If you need to toss a treat or put a treat in a treat launcher, something small like Temptations cat work well.
  • To play a fun game with your cat, consider getting a round crunchy treat that will easily roll.
  • Syringes can be a great tool to give goopy treats and can help prepare your cat for needing medications should they ever get sick. Put some Churu in a bowl and draw it into the syringe or you can draw meat baby food directly from a jar into the syringe.

The most important deciding factor (regardless of the situation) in what the best cat treats are for your cat is what your cat likes. It can be frustrating to need to try different kinds of treats, but remember that something isn’t really a treat if your cat doesn’t like it. If you have friends with cats, exchange treats your cats don’t like to save money and reduce waste. I don’t think your cats will complain about getting some tasty snacks!

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Joey Lusvardi

Joey Lusvardi CCBC is an IAABC Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and professional cat trainer based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He runs a behavior consultation and cat training service, Class Act Cats, where he helps cat parents address a variety of unwanted behaviors. Joey is available for in home sessions locally or virtual sessions wherever you are located!