Cat treats can serve several purposes, including bonding, dental health, to hide pills in, for training, or to help your cat relax. Some treats have ingredients that aren’t well-tolerated in all cats, and other treats are considered hypoallergenic and don’t contain common allergens. It’s particularly important to be aware of the number of calories in treats and the intended life stage, so you can provide appropriate nutrition.
Our favorite cat treat for most cats is Greenies Feline SmartBites Healthy Skin and Fur treats, which are low-calorie, full of beneficial ingredients, and beloved by most cats. But there are several other cat treats we also love, which might be the best treat for your cat.
Greenies Feline SmartBites Healthy Skin & Fur Salmon Flavor Cat Treats
Contains healthy oils to benefit skin and fur
No artificial flavors
Not good for cats who need to avoid grains
There’s something about the crunchy outer texture and the soft, creamy inside of Greenies Feline SmartBites that cats simply adore. But these tasty treats top our list because they contain ingredients like flaxseed and fish oil to benefit your cat’s skin and fur. They are also low-calorie and contain no artificial flavors, preservatives, or fillers, so you can give them to your kitty every day. The treats are bite-sized which makes it easy to reward your favorite feline, and the resealable bag makes it easy to keep the rest fresh until the next treat time. A chicken flavor is also available for cats that prefer poultry over fish.
Calories: 1.3 calories per treat | Flavor: Salmon | Lifestage: Adult
Best Dental Treats
Greenies Feline Tempting Tuna Flavor Adult Dental Cat Treats
VOHC seal of acceptance
Popular tuna flavor
Large number of treats needed to get benefits
While brushing your cat’s teeth is still the best way to provide at-home dental care, offering treats proven to help oral health is also a great option. Feline Greenies Dental Treats are crunchy treats proven by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to slow or reduce tartar. They are designed to improve dental health and are scientifically proven to do so, but you’ll need to feed an average-sized cat 16 treats a day to see these benefits. Thankfully, these dental treats are available in a variety of sizes, including a 1.3-pound tub, so you won’t run out.
Calories: 1.4 calories per treat | Flavor: Tuna | Lifestage: Adult
Best Grain Free
PureBites Freeze Dried Chicken Breast Cat Treats
Low in calories
Only available in small bags
Treats tend to crumble
PureBites cat treats contain just one ingredient—chicken. They are freeze-dried and come in bite-sized pieces that make healthy treats for your cat. They have no added grains or other ingredients, so it's easy to avoid things your cat can’t have, and the unique texture will be an appealing reward. These treats are affordable, all-natural, and only have about two calories each. Salmon and shrimp treat options are also available from PureBites for cats that need to avoid both grains and chicken.
Calories: 2 calories per treat | Flavor: Chicken | Lifestage: Adult
Best for Kittens
Blue Buffalo Baby Blue Crunchies Natural Grain Free Savory Salmon Kitten Treats
Low in calories
Popular salmon flavor
Only one size bag available
Kittens have little mouths with baby teeth, so crunchy treats need to be the right size for them. Blue Buffalo Baby Blue Grain-Free Kitten Crunchies are not only the right size and consistency for kittens, but they are healthy too. There are no grains, but this salmon treat is oven-baked, so it still delivers a crunch that your kitten will love. A chicken-flavored option is also available. Finally, it’s low in calories, so you won’t have to worry about giving too many treats when you want to reward your new furry friend.
Calories: 1.5 calories per treat | Flavor: Salmon | Lifestage: Kittens
Best for Training
Temptations Classic Crunchy and Soft Cat Treats Tasty Chicken Flavor
Very palatable to cats
Small treat size
Less than two calories per treat
Not for cats on grain-free diets
Cats may be able to open the container
While treats should ideally be healthy and palatable, training a cat or rewarding good behavior may require special offerings. Temptations cat treats come in a variety of flavors, with the chicken flavor being the most popular. Each flavored treat has an outer crunchy coating with a soft inside that most cats will do just about anything to get. Having a treat that is highly motivating will make training sessions easier for you and more desirable for your cat. These treats also come in large containers and are bite-sized pieces that are perfect for a little positive reinforcement.
Some cat owners note that their cats love these treats so much that they will even break into the plastic containers and eat as many treats as they want. So, you may want to stash them in a safe place.
Calories: Less than 2 calories per treat | Flavor: Chicken | Lifestage: All life stages
Best for Calming
VetriScience Composure Calming Formula for Cats
Scientifically researched ingredients
Does not sedate your cat
Not all cats will like the consistency or flavor
May require consistent administration for full effect
Many cats are stressed, anxious, or overly excitable and can act out by scratching things they shouldn’t, urinating outside the litter box, and even acting aggressively towards other pets and people. Composure chews contain three main ingredients that are scientifically researched to help cats that are in need of some natural calming without sedation. The chews can be given as needed, half an hour before a stressful event, or used daily for more consistent calming. The flavoring in them is chicken liver, and they come in a fish-shaped soft chew for easy administration.
Calories: 5 calories per treat | Flavor: Chicken liver | Lifestage: All life stages
Best Lickable + Best for Bonding
INABA Churu Lickable Cat Treat
Cats love them
Good for hydration
Helps with socializing
Lots of plastic packaging
Cats should not be left alone with packaging
These wet treats, packaged in skinny plastic tubes, are hugely popular with just about every cat. Because you'll need to hold the treat while a cat licks at the tube, this treat creates an extra special bonding experience with your cat, so they're particularly good for building trust with a new feline friend. Churu lickable treats are popular with cat foster parents who are tasked with socializing cats who have been rescued from outdoor situations.
These treats are also very moist, so they can add some extra hydration to your cat's diet. Churu treats are available in a range of grain-free flavors, including chicken, tuna, tuna with chicken, chicken with scallop, and tuna with scallop. If you want to save some of a treat for later, opened tube should be stored in the fridge.
Calories: 5-6 calories/treat depending on flavor | Flavor: Tuna, chicken, and blends | Lifestage: Adult
Best Soft Treats
Sheba Meaty Tender Sticks
Stick are individually wrapped for freshness
Easily adjust how much of the treat you give
Made with real meat
Soft and chewy
Must be consumed within 4 hours after opening
High in calories if entire stick is fed
If your cat turns its nose up to traditional, crunchy cat treats then you need to give Sheba Meaty Tender Sticks a try. These real meat treat sticks can be broken apart into bite-sized pieces, or the entire stick can be offered as more of a long-lasting chew treat. Cats love to run off with the whole stick like they would carry a mouse they caught, and it doubles as enrichment since it’s different than just a bite-sized piece of kibble. The sticks contain no artificial flavors or colors and are void of corn, wheat, and soy, so they are truly meaty sticks. The packaging ensures each stick stays fresh until your cat is ready to eat it, but if you don’t want to give an entire stick as a treat, many pet owners will save any remaining stick pieces in a zip-top bag or something else to keep it from drying out.
Calories: 17 calories per treat | Flavor: Chicken | Lifestage: Adult
Best for Hiding Pills
Greenies Pill Pockets Feline Salmon Flavor Cat Treats
Easy to hide any shaped pill
Popular salmon flavor
Not good for dental health
Feline Greenies Feline Pill Pockets are extremely helpful for getting your cat to take a pill. Pilling cats is not an easy thing to do but if your cat will eat a soft treat, you can mold this tiny dough cup around the pill to completely hide it. You can even combine multiple Pill Pockets if you need more dough to disguise a pill or capsule. The salmon flavor is a popular option for cats that like fish, but a chicken flavor is also available. The resealable bag keeps this treat soft and fresh, but care should be taken not to crush the bag in order to maintain the Pill Pocket shape.
Calories: 3 calories/treat | Flavor: Salmon | Lifestage: All life stages
Best Food Topper Broth
Purina Fancy Feast Broths Gourmet Cat Complement
No artificial colors or flavors
Three flavor variety pack
Can be hard to open packets without making a mess
With the proliferation of pet food topper broths, it may be tempting to add a little standard chicken broth to your cat's meal, but this can be very dangerous—alliums like garlic and onion, common ingredients in broths, are toxic to cats. But now there are feline alternatives available. Cats seem to go absolutely bonkers for these broth packets, which smell great and make normal food into a lickable snack.
Purina's Fancy Feast Broths are a great way to treat your cat to an enhanced meal once in a while, or they can be used on their own. These supplemental toppers—or "Gourmet Cat Complement" as Purina describes it—aren't meant as a replacement for wet food. Instead, they add moisture to your cat's standard dry or wet food meal. This can be particularly beneficial to cats that need extra hydration.
The Fancy Feast Broths come in several flavors, but we recommend trying out the Classic Collection, which comes in a 12-pack featuring three different flavors (Tuna, Shrimp & Whitefish; Tuna, Anchovies & Whitefish; Wild Salmon & Vegetables). While primarily a broth used as a hydrating food topper, each broth packet has a little chunks of carrots, fish, and other high quality ingredients.
We especially like Purina's food topper broths because they provides snackable hydration without adding too much extra fat to your cat's diet (just .05 percent). They also provide supplemental fiber and protein. Purina's Fancy Feast Broths contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
If you’re looking for an easy to administer and tasty cat treat, Temptations cat treats take the cake in popularity with kitties. If you want something that may double as a treat and benefit your cat’s well-being while still being desirable to your cat, then Greenies Feline SmartBites Healthy Skin and Fur treats are your best bet. These treat options will please even the pickiest of felines and will therefore help strengthen your bond with your cat.
What to Look for When Buying Cat Treats
To narrow down your search, ask yourself a few key questions: Why do you want to give your cat treats? Does your cat prefer crunchy or soft treats? Does your cat have dietary restrictions or specific health concerns? Once you answer these questions, you’ll be able to make the best treat choice for your cat.
Choosing a flavor of a treat that is different from your cat’s regular food will be an extra special treat, assuming your cat likes variety. But if your cat prefers consistency, opt for a flavor that is the same as its preferred food.
Additionally, if your cat has specific dietary restrictions or is on a special food, ask your vet if the treats are compatible with the food you are feeding or if the treats contain ingredients you should avoid.
Cat treats are meant to be used intermittently and sparingly, not constantly and regularly, but it can be hard to say no to your cat when they’re begging for a treat. Because of this, it’s easy to feed your cat too many calories in the form of treats, especially if you don’t adjust how much regular food you are feeding it at meal time. Choosing a cat treat that is low in calories will help you manage your cat’s weight, but at the very least, you should pay attention to how many calories in each treat. If a treat is high in calories, be aware that you may need to decrease how much food you give your cat at other times of the day.
Treats are not meant to replace your cat’s regular food, but some are designed specifically for kittens, adults, or senior cats. They may have added ingredients to help support a specific life stage or be a certain texture, size, or shape that is easier for some cats to eat or enjoy.
What ingredients should you look for or avoid in cat treats?
Since treats are not the bulk of a cat’s diet, the ingredients need to be safe, but they aren’t as important as the food you are feeding your cat. The first ingredient on the label should ideally be meat, and while many owners try to avoid grains, some grains are not a problem for most cats. Avoid treats with food dyes, BHA, BHT, and ingredients your specific cat is sensitive or allergic to.
How often should you give your cat treats?
Treats should not make up more than 10 percent of your cat’s diet, so they should not be given all the time. They should be something that your cat gets infrequently and as a reward or motivator. Once or twice a day your cat can get some treats while you are petting it or to entice it to exercise but they should not be a constant offering.
What’s the difference between catnip and cat treats?
Catnip is a plant, and cat treats are edible food items. Catnip is often dried and sprinkled onto surfaces to attract your cat. If your cat consumes it or smells it, it may cause it to act excited or exhibit other behaviors. Catnip should not be used in place of a treat but rather more as an occasional cat toy.
Cat treats, on the other hand, are edible and used to train, reward, or motivate a cat. They can both be used as attractants, but catnip should not be given regularly like a treat.
Why Trust the Spruce?
Adrienne Kruzer is a Registered and Licensed Veterinary Technician in three states and has been writing on pet and vet topics for over a decade. She is also Fear Free Certified, has a special interest in pet nutrition, and loves researching, learning, and problem solving in order to better help pet owners. Kruzer's years of working in various animal hospitals, alongside her formal college education and elective continuing education classes, have provided her with a wealth of experience and knowledge to benefit cat owners.
Our editors also test top pet products in our own homes and share their first-hand insights.