More cat parents are seeking healthier food options, including cat treats. Manufacturers are meeting that demand with a growing selection of natural-ingredient, protein-rich treats.

Cat treats can be rewards for play or enduring unwanted situations (like nail-clipping or going to the vet), or they can help a human and new cat bond. Whether used to reinforce behavior or as part of the food routine, cat treats should comprise less than 10 percent of daily calories to ensure a balanced diet and maintain weight, according to the AVMA.

Cat Treat Variety for All Life Stages

  • Dry kibble: The traditional cat treat, with some products used for dental care or hairball control.
  • Freeze-dried raw: Often a premium protein product that appeals to consumers seeking grain-free whole food.
  • Stews and broths: Benefits cats with added hydration.
  • Purees: A growing sub-category that allows hand-feeding with these lickable products.
  • Catnip: Beloved by most cats and a low-calorie option.

A growing number of cat parents are seeking well-priced treats that also have identifiable ingredients on their labels. Single-ingredient and limited-ingredient cat treats are growing in popularity, as pet parents turn away from fillers, preservatives and additives in their own food and their pets’ food.

To please finicky feline palates, some treats offer strong flavors like fish. Lower-calorie treats and those with ingredients that provide functional benefits (such as vitamins, probiotics and omega fatty acids) are fitting into higher-quality cat diets.

Not only are pet parents looking at treat ingredients, but they are also considering packaging, too. Some cat treat manufacturers are responding to the demand for more sustainable packaging, including BPA-free cartons and recyclable materials.

Promoting Treats

There are several locations to consider in a store to cross-market cat treats: near the wet and dry food, near the cash register (for impulse purchases) and in the treats section. Samples are a good way to entice cat parents to consider a new treat brand or flavor. Promotions/specials also may entice a cat parent to try something new, and signage or point-of-purchase materials on benefits and ingredients may reinforce interest.

Treats can strengthen the bond between a cat and its owner, and a great selection of cat treats can strengthen the loyalty of pet parents to an independent pet store.