Hint: start introducing little bits of extra treats when your cats are kittens. Kittens tend to be more adventurous, while cats are often a bit suspicious of new foods. If your cat is already an adult, fear not; you can still introduce new foods, it may just take a bit of perseverance. Experiment with a few different options and try offering them to your cat more than once before declaring the cat not a fan of a particular food.
1. Yogurt Plain, unsweetened, low fat yogurt can be a great treat for cats, especially overweight ones as yogurt is high in calcium and protein. Try freezing it for an extra special feline treat. Note: all milk-based treats are high in calcium, so cats prone to bladder stones should only have cheese or yogurt occasionally as this added calcium can contribute to stone formation. Caution: make sure any yogurt you share does not contain any artificial sweeteners.
2. Raspberries These berries are high in fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. Try them frozen for a cool summery treat! Tip: If your cat is extra playful, you may want to first introduce the berry unfrozen. Frozen berries may prove more tempting as a toy than a treat!)
3. Beef heart Heart is a rich source of digestible protein but is also high in fat, so reserve this as a special-occasion treat. Feed beef heart boiled or baked and store the remainder, cooked, in the freezer for easy treats-on-hand. It can also be thinly sliced and dehydrated for a chewy teeth cleaning treat.
4. Chicken feet or duck feet Although not a commonly considered a “people food” in North America, chicken and duck feet are widely eaten in Asia. But it’s not just a dim sum favourite; some cats love the crunchy texture of chicken/duck feet. The feet can be found dehydrated in some pet stores or can be fed fresh—try your butcher or local Asian supermarket (rinse them before feeding raw). As with anything containing bone, there is the risk of damage to the esophagus or stomach, so if your cat looks to want to eat the feet whole, chop the feet into smaller pieces. Bonus: the raw bones can help keep your cat’s teeth clean.
Do note: raw meat products can contain a variety of serious pathogens so make sure you handle raw meat with caution and do not feed to very young kittens or old cats or to cats taking immunosuppressive drugs (ie prednisolone, cyclosporine, etc.) If your cat is on these medications, it’s best to talk to your vet before feeding raw meat of any kind.
5. Bananas This lunch box staple is packed with potassium and vitamin B-6, which is used as a co-factor in many of the enzyme pathways in the body. This can have a positive effect on everything from the nervous system to inflammation. Try sharing a bit of fresh banana with your cat, mashing it up and adding it to their food, or freezing it for a cool summer treat.
6. Meat-based baby foods (onion/garlic free) Freeze extra baby food into ice cube trays to make convenient cat treats. Baby foods seem to be a greatly enjoyed cat snack, which is great as most baby foods are natural, plain, low in fat, and good sources of protein. (Note you can not substitute baby food for cat food!) Be sure the baby food is onion- and garlic-free as both onions and garlic are toxic to cats.
7. Sprouts There are a number of different kinds of sprouts, including bean, broccoli, and sprouted grains; any of them can be shared with your cat in small quantities. Try sprinkling a few sprouts on your cat’s dinner to give a little boost of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Note that sprouts are very prone to bacterial contamination so if your cat is elderly or immune compromised, cook any sprouts before sharing them.
8. Dehydrated liver Most dehydrated liver on the market tends to be beef. Beef liver is a great source of protein and cats tend to love it. Stick to feeding a small piece of liver once or twice a week though as it has a high iron and vitamins A and D content. Since most cat foods are already supplemented with iron and vitamins A and D, you can cause toxicity if you feed too much liver.
For more people foods for cats, click here!
Foods to avoid? Click here.