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The Best Cat Treats with Extra Health Benefits

Author: Dr. Beth Turner

Published: December 14, 2021

Updated: March 8, 2024

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sweet long whiskered black and white shorthair catCats are truly unique, wonderful, and magical creatures. They are capable of climbing trees, leaping through the air from high places, and propelling medication six feet across the room.

It is a good thing that cats have nine lives because, clearly, they are not interested in their health and safety. That is where you come in!

Since treating cats with medications can be a challenge, prevention of issues is the key to good health.

One easy way for you to aid in the prevention of some health issues is by providing your cat with treats that have benefits.

Any time you add anything new to your cat’s diet, especially if they have underlying medical issues, speak to your veterinarian to be sure it is ok. Additionally, your veterinarian will be able to guide you on the best options to use for your special feline.

Cat Treats for Calming & Anxiety

Stress can have a major impact on your cat’s health. Stressed cats can suffer from medical issues, such as with their urinary tract and gastrointestinal tract. It weakens their immune system, which means they are more susceptible to other illnesses. It can also create behavioral problems.

While we can’t always control or completely eliminate the stress in our cat’s environment, we can provide them with treats that help them manage stress. Controlled stress means an improved immune system. When a cat's immune system is functioning optimally, they suffer from fewer medical issues.

cat treats for calming anxiety and stress

When looking for calming treats for cats, try to find ones that contain pheromones, tryptophan, rosemary, chamomile, L-theanine, colostrum, and/or alpha-casozepine (hydrolyzed milk protein).

Use calming treats when you have company, your cat is boarding, they have repeated issues with cystitis or any time there are any changes occurring in the environment. Our top four recommended treats include:

Cat Treats for Dental Health

Good dental hygiene is essential to overall health. Periodontal disease can cause cats to develop swollen and painful gums, loose teeth, and damage to the jawbone. Additionally, it can cause disease in other parts of the body, such as the heart and kidneys.

While we definitely encourage you to learn how to brush your cat's teeth, many of our feline friends are, unfortunately, not really agreeable to holding still for us to get pet-safe toothpaste in their mouths.

But the good news is that there are treats and food supplements that do most of the work for you. Here are a few favorites:

If you decide to buy a feline dental treat aside from the ones listed above, check to be sure it has the VOHC seal on it. The dental treats with that seal have been reviewed and approved by veterinary dentists.

Cat Treats for Fur and Skin Health

The skin is one of the largest organs of the body and is critical to a healthy immune system. Keeping your cat's skin healthy not only improves their health but also helps them have a beautiful coat.

Typically, treats that benefit our cat’s fur and skin also provide additional anti-inflammatory benefits. So these treats really pack a lot of bang for the buck!

Cat Treats for Joint Health and Mobility

Cats are leapers and jumpers. But because they are so agile and good at hiding pain, many cat owners do not realize that all this activity can cause inflammation in the body. This inflammation eventually causes arthritis in cats.

beautiful longhair white cat leaping from couch

Cat treats designed to help with joint health and mobility help to control inflammation, ease pain, and protect the cartilage of the joints. All in all, they allow your cat to live a longer, more mobile, and pain-free life.

Most joint supplements should contain glucosamine and chondroitin. But the addition of other ingredients, such as avocado, soybean extract, Boswellia, probiotics, etc., is great for added support.

There are many joint supplements out there, but these are some of our favorites as we've seen positive experiences with many cats:

Cat Treats for Eye/Respiratory Health and Immune Support

exotic shorthair cat laying on floorHaving a strong immune system is essential in fighting off infections and disease. Finding easy ways to boost your cat’s immunity, especially if they are a senior, have cancer, or have FeLV/FIV, is simpler when you can do it with treats.

Upper respiratory infections in cats affect not only the respiratory system but often their eyes as well.

Supporting the respiratory system and the eyes helps further support their immune system since you are boosting those areas' own defense mechanisms.

Typically, these types of treats contain lysine, antioxidants, prebiotics, etc.

Cat Treats for Hairball Issues

Hairballs are literally no fun for anyone (unless you have a dog that thinks they are tasty!). Besides the grossness of hairballs, the retching feeling cats experience is unpleasant. Even worse, there is always the potential that these hairballs can make their way down the GI tract and cause an obstruction. Fortunately, there are treats that help lessen or eliminate hairballs.

Look for treats that use Omega Fatty Acids, vitamins, fiber, and other essential enzymes to break down materials that hold the hairball together.

NOTE: Use caution if you feed over-the-counter hairball diets. They can cause high levels of fat in the blood and make some cats very sick.

Cat Treats for Gastrointestinal Health (Tummy Troubles)

Cats, like people, often suffer from tummy troubles. It can be from stress, diet changes, or medical issues. Gastrointestinal (GI) health is critical to your cat’s overall well-being. Keeping it in balance is essential.

Probiotics, which are found in most GI support treats, are found to provide benefits to the entire body in addition to the GI tract. Fiber is another important ingredient in GI treats. Fiber helps by acting as a prebiotic, helps bulk stool, and keeps the GI tract functioning.

Cat Treats to Support Urinary Health

Some cats, due to stress or genetics, have a tendency to develop sterile cystitis, urinary tract infections, crystals, and stones. All of these issues are painful and can add to stress, especially if medications are needed.

Treats that contain glucosamine benefit the bladder because the mucous layer that lines the bladder is very similar chemically to that of joint fluid. When this lining is protected, it helps make the bladder more resistant to inflammation.

A urinary treat that contains D-mannose is also helpful because it helps remove harmful bacteria.

Providing cats with treats they love always gives us warm fuzzies — but when you know they are gaining extra benefits from them, it is even better. Just remember, treats should never comprise more than 5% of your cat’s daily total caloric intake. Maintaining your cat at a healthy weight and preventing them from being overweight is another great way of preventing health issues.

About the author

Profile picture for Dr. Beth Turner

Dr. Beth Turner

Beth Turner is a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience. She graduated from North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine and following graduation, she began her career as an associate veterinarian and worked closely with the local shelter.

In 2007 she accomplished her dream of practice ownership, designing and building her own clinic. Another meaningful role, while running her clinic, was serving as her county's shelter veterinarian. This gave her the opportunity to help improve the lives of many animals in her community as well as work with the rescue she loved. She sold her practice in 2019 to move across the country.

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