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Many cats, like dogs, enjoy receiving tasty snacks. Cat treats are a great way to reinforce positive behaviors and assist with training. Sometimes, pet parents want to give their felines a treat or two because who wouldn’t like that?
For cats with sensitive stomachs, however, treats can be a source of stomach issues, including vomiting and diarrhea. That doesn’t mean a kitty has to miss out on getting delicious snacks every so often. There are plenty of specially-formulated options on the market. In this article, cat parents can learn what makes the best cat treats for sensitive stomachs and a few of the top vet-approved brands.
A cat with a sensitive stomach may experience symptoms of digestive upset at the slightest changes in their diet, such as when pet parents introduce a new food or feed them table scraps. Certain types of foods or food ingredients may trigger adverse food reactions or intolerances as well. A sensitive stomach can also make it more difficult for cats to pass any fur they swallow when grooming themselves. As a result, they may experience more frequent hairballs.
Giving a cat with a sensitive stomach certain types of treats can cause them to get an upset stomach. They may vomit or exhibit other symptoms of digestive issues. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available that are gentler on sensitive stomachs. If people want to give their cat a tasty snack that won’t wreak havoc on their digestive system, here are some essential things to look for when shopping:
Many conventional cat treats are high in fat, sodium, and calories. This can quickly result in an upset stomach for cats with sensitive stomachs.
When looking for sensitive stomach cat treats, look for ones with more to offer than empty calories. Treats containing essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B vitamins (vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin B12), magnesium, and manganese, can help support a feline’s overall wellness. Omega-3 fatty acids can help maintain skin and coat health (which may help reduce hairballs) and aid in digestive health.
Probiotics are also beneficial for digestive health. The “good” bacteria help maintain balance in the gastrointestinal tract and improve overall digestion. They may also help reduce hairballs, vomiting, and other symptoms of stomach upset.
Remember, while these types of treats do include beneficial vitamins and other ingredients, they shouldn’t be a significant part of the cat’s diet. A well-rounded diet gives felines everything they need nutritionally. Pet parents can give their cat occasional supplement treats for their additional benefits, as toppers to their normal food, or with puzzle toys to keep cats mentally engaged.
Artificial ingredients such as flavors and other additives boost cat treat palatability. They’re also generally cheaper. However, they can irritate a cat’s digestive system, triggering symptoms.
Some artificial ingredients to look out for include:
Chemical preservatives: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), ethoxyquin, tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
Artificial colors: Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 6, etc.
Propylene glycol (PG): Used to maintain moisture and add flavor
While these ingredients may make treats taste better, last longer, or give them more vibrant colors, they may be problematic for a cat’s stomach and overall health. For instance, artificial preservatives, common in crunchy treats, may be potentially carcinogenic. Instead, look for natural preservatives such as vitamin E or rosemary extract. Ingestion of propylene glycol may cause Heinz body anemia in cats. Although it’s generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for humans and dogs, the FDA prohibits its use in cat food.
The ingredient list of cat treats for a sensitive stomach should consist of all-natural, easily digestible proteins, such as chicken, duck, salmon, or organ meat. Watch out for protein “meals” or “byproducts” as these ingredients have undergone processing to a point where they aren’t whole protein sources anymore. They have less nutritional value, and they’re more difficult for a cat’s body to break down, especially when that feline has a sensitive stomach.
Other ingredients to watch out for include rendered fats, corn, and soy. While these are “natural” ingredients, they aren’t good for cats. Rendered fats may enhance flavor, but they are low-quality fat sources that could also contain harmful microorganisms or heavy metals. Look for a cat treat with natural flavors. Corn and soy aren’t necessarily harmful, but they aren’t ideal for felines as these complex carbohydrates are difficult for their stomachs to break down.
Here are a couple of Fuzzy’s top vet-recommended cat treats for sensitive stomachs:
Pet Greens Cat Craves cat treats are chewy treats that contain real turkey as the first ingredient. They have no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Fish oil provides omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and fur, and wheatgrass offers a range of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber for digestive health. As a bonus, the greens may curb the cat’s urge to eat potentially harmful houseplants.
If a feline is prone to hairballs, Zesty Paws Hairball Bites may provide some relief. These soft treats contain a combination of digestive health-supporting natural ingredients, including:
Fish oil: Omega-3 fatty acids promote healthy skin and may minimize hairball formation
Psyllium husk: A source of fiber that supports good digestive function
Zinc: Mineral that supports skin health and may reduce hairballs
Like our other top pick, Zesty Paws soft treats have no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. They’re also free from grain, corn, and soy derivatives.
A sensitive stomach doesn’t have to mean a cat can’t enjoy the occasional treat. Knowing what to look for (and what to avoid) in cat treats for a sensitive stomach can help ensure pet parents are providing high-quality, tasty snacks that won’t end with an upset stomach and messes to clean.
Looking for sensitive stomach cat treats? The online vets at Fuzzy are available to offer additional advice and provide recommendations. Fuzzy members receive discounts on all of our vet-approved products, including high-quality, healthy treats for cats. Non-Fuzzy readers can answer a few quick questions to start a Fuzzy free trial and enjoy all the benefits of Fuzzy members, including 24/7 vet access.