When kitties are old enough to eat solid foods exclusively, at around 8 to 10 weeks of age, they can have a treat or two as a reward for good behavior. Most commercially available treats specifically made for cats are safe if given in moderation to your little one.
Ready for Treats?
Very young kittens, under 4 or 5 weeks of age, are still nursing from their mom or need kitten milk replacement formula. These little babies aren't yet ready for food they have to chew, including kitty treats of any kind, because they don't have teeth. Later, while they are being weaned onto solid foods, a safe and tasty treat for your little one should be soft and easy for him to chew with his new pearly whites. A small spoonful of meat-based human baby food makes a yummy treat for a growing baby kitty. Look for baby food without added onion, garlic or sodium, which can be harmful to your little guy. Kittens who are around 10 weeks old are able to chow down on both wet and dry foods, so you can give them a commercial treat here and there as a reward for good behavior.
Kinds of Treats
When purchasing treats for your little one, choose one that lists on the label that it meets the nutritional standards established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Such treats only contain safe ingredients that have been approved by AAFCO. Look for treats with a whole meat as the primary ingredient because this will provide Kitty with a good source of protein. Kittens actually need at least 22 percent protein in their diets to support healthy growth, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This ingredient will be listed first because ingredients in commercial pet foods and treats must be listed by weight, following FDA regulations.
Everything in Moderation
Treats are delicious, but too many treats can affect your kitty's health by filling his tummy with empty calories. A food specifically designed for kittens should be your little guy's primary source of calories since it's formulated to meet his nutritional needs. Think of cat treats like you would snack food for humans -- tasty, but not necessarily nutritious. A proper balance of nutrients is especially important to support healthy growth in kittens. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends that little kitties get no more than 5 percent of their diet from treats, so dole them out in moderation to your furry friend.
Treat your furry buddy when he behaves well or performs a desired behavior. Crunchy treats allow teething 3- to 6-month-old kittens to gnaw on something hard. This gives them a little relief from the pain of their little chompers coming in. Don't simply give your kitty treats when he begs you for them, because this will only lead to your little guy following you around and constantly begging for treats, according to the Humane Society of the United States. If you don't want to purchase or give your furry friend commercial cat treats, give him a few small pieces of cooked boneless chicken, beef or fish instead. Never give any foods people consider treats, like chocolate, to your little kitty -- these are highly toxic to him.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Nutrition Tips for Kittens
- PetPlace.com: Cat Treats for Young Cats
- The Humane Society of the United States: Training Your Cat With Positive Reinforcement
- PetPlace.com: What Can I Do About My Cat Teething and Chewing?
- American Animal Hospital Association: Dog and Cat Bad Habits
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Selecting Nutritious Pet Foods
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.