Please note that some posts contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links Find out More

Cat Treats Help Make Cats Friendlier!

by | Nov 15, 2013 | Ask Amy Videos, Cat Behavior & Care | 22 comments


Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC


What does cat food and cat treats have to do with making your house cat more friendly? One the most common questions I get as a cat behavior consultant deals with the evolving c’attitude of maturing kitties. Pretty much all kittens are in-your-face clueless (and confident!) spit-fires that never met a stranger. They gallop and pounce through life, love to play until they collapse–and then snuggle and purr themselves to sleep on your lap.

But the baby cat grows up and then OH NO! What happened to the snuggle-puss? Well, sometimes they stay cuddly throughout life. But very often, the baby grows up to be a bit more selective in how he or she wishes to interact. That can put the human’s nose out of joint when suddenly Junior-Cat disses the person who brought them into the house. So–what can you do?


People readily think about treats with dogs, but not so often with cats–and in fact, cats relish not only the tastiness but also the special interaction that comes with any food “extras.” That can encourage your cat to act friendlier and interact with you.

The key to treating cats, though, is to remember they are “grazers.” A full meal for a cat tends to be 4-8 individual kibbles. That’s all! They’re not going to belly up to the smorgasbord and gulp mouthfuls or handfuls the way Shadow-Pup does. So a teeeeeny tiny amount is enough–the smell as much as the taste and the attention–that associates something positive for the cat with your presence.

The human with the pocketbook decides the treat choice, but ultimately it’s in the cat’s paws whether or not s/he will indulge. Of course, we don’t want over-nutrition to create tubby Tabbies so it’s best to choose a treat that compliments the cat’s existing diet. Most pet food companies offer a “family” of products that go well together.

Treats that make kitty sit up and purr tend to be very different than what s/he eats on a regular basis. Reserving a very unique tasting/smelling food–a canned ration, for example–can be a great way to make your cat feel special without potentially upsetting the nutrition.


How should you treat to help your cat be friendlier? Establish a routine. That could be every morning while you’re eating breakfast, or while you brush your teeth–or perhaps every evening while watching the evening news. Cats love routine, and once Kitty figures out the time and place that TREATS get delivered, you won’t have to remember–she’ll remind YOU!

Tiny bits are enough. You don’t want cats to gobble and spoil their appetite. Maybe dip your finger in the canned food. My Karma-Kat comes when called, sits up, waves, and (we’re working on) speak! with just me holding up my finger–he EXPECTS a tasty treat whenever I call. Eventually, you don’t need to reward every time. Intermittent rewards (reinforcement) works better, because Kitty never knows when he’ll get that reward, so he’d better come when called every time, just in case!

By rewarding your cat for a natural behavior, you also reinforce the interaction and teach the kitty there’s a benefit to paying attention to you. If the cat still won’t come near…use dry treats you can toss to him. And the next time toss it closer to you…and the next, closer still. Do this in cat-size steps, not all at once, and your cat will become friendlier without even realizing it!


Well, yes. Some cats do very well on the same old food all the time, but others relish variety. If your cat won’t eat, refer to this post. And let’s face it, PEOPLE love variety, So even if cats could eat MOUSE every single day, it makes us feel good (rewards US!) to offer variety to our beloved cats, too.

For instance, you could choose to provide a dry kibble in puzzle toys for “hunting” throughout the day, and then give a bonus wet food for the evening or morning meal. If your cat is a bit tubby, try putting treats in a cat puzzle toy for added feline enjoyment (and exercise).

For more tips on making your cat friendlier and having a great relationship, refer to this post on environmental enrichment. Be sure to check out the video, below. What are some other tips you have for helping cats act “friendlier?”

YouTube Button

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!


  1. Jean Meyer

    My three furry babies – well, okay, seniors – after all they are now nine years old – deserve treats because they keep me sane!! When I’m feeling stressed or down, one or more of them will make sure I’m not alone – one will always be with me. And how can you continue to feel stressed or down while petting a soft furry kid!!

    • Amy Shojai

      Awww…thanks Jean! I’d say they DO, indeed, deserve treats!

  2. Brenda

    Our furry darling has survived three near death issues (starting with surviving a downed power line burning his tail during Hurricane Katrina) so he deserves pampering though they all do anyway! Thanks for the chance to win, always enjoy your blog.

    By the way, our furry one is alive in part thanks to you and your reminder to look for lumps & bumps. I had my eye on what looked like a small wart and the vet commended me for finding it in time through his thick mink-like fur. It was a marble size cancerous tumor. (That was his third near death experience.)

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Brenda! Well I always love your insightful comments on the blog, so we’re even! Paws crossed, hope you win one of the baskets for your miracle kitties!

  3. Frank Steele

    Every cat deserves the best. They give unconditional love. The least we can do is give back.

    • Amy Shojai

      I can’t argue with that, Frank! Thanks for adding a comment–you’re entered in the contest!

  4. Constance Marie

    My sweet kitties are so loyal and loving. Maybe it’s from having a hard start in life, but I feel they deserve the very best for food and treats and there is none better than Science Diet!
    It’s made such a difference! I would really appreciate winning this for them. What a Thanksgiving gift it would be!
    Connie Marie

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Constance, that’s a great comment. Sorry they had a rough start–but they landed with you, so they must have done something right. You’re entered! Good luck!

  5. Patricia

    Amy I really enjoyed your blog and video. My cats deserve special treats because well they’re SPECIAL to me. I love them unconditionally and they love me the same. Being homebound they give me so much companionship and love. Ironically, I have been thinking about getting one of those cat puzzle toys and put some treats in it for them to get. Since they’re getting older I thought it would be great exercise for them. We all have so much to be thankful for at this time of year and they’re excited about the possibility of winning some treats. From me, Thomas, Macy, Termite, Blackie and Snooki best wishes for you and your husband to have a great weekend.

    • Amy Shojai

      Aww….thank you Patricia! Yes, it’s a “thankful” time of year. Scritches and headbonks to Thomas, Macy, Termite, Blackie and Snooki…and you too, of course!

  6. Karyl

    (Don’t add this to the contest since I already won a gift box from one of the other contests – and our furball is snubbing every bit of it except the Drinkwell that came alone with! LOL Though sadly I think had the treats not been too hard for his sensitive teeth he actually wanted those. He can’t do Greenies for the same reason. He outright SNUBBED the canned food, I couldn’t believe it.)

    A lot of the time for me, getting cats to be friendlier has been a simple matter of having the time to just sit there with a hand out (even if on the floor), looking away from the cat long enough to let them come up and sniff. Make sure you don’t move too quickly or you’ll have to start over. Never try to pet while they are still sniffing. Let the non-cuddler make the first move.

    If they start rubbing on you, you’re usually good to (slowly!) lift your hand, encourage them to put their head under. If they let you, scritch the top of the head, but don’t try to scratch the ears right away – anything they think is a grab might cause them to run off, and again you’ll have to start over. It’s a slow process, you have to be okay with waiting for the animal to make the moves when you’re dealing with a shy critter.

    We’ve been letting my dad give treats (and sometimes chicken) to Anubis when he comes over, since Anubis has been leery of him ever since he heard me call him “dad” (LOL he was fine with him until that – there is only the One True Daddy and all other Daddies are false Daddies) – it seems to be helping.

    • Amy Shojai

      Great tips for fearful/leery cats. Glad Anubis is beginning to accept your Dad, too (the “pretender” LOL!).

  7. April R.

    My cat deserves some treats because we adopted a puppy this year and he’s still not thrilled about it!

    • Amy Shojai

      LOL! April, the treats certainly should help smooth those bruised kitty feelings. Thanks for the comment and good luck!

  8. Lisa F.

    My kitty is very finicky about dry treats, so I’d love to see if he’d like these. Thanks!

    • Amy Shojai

      Oooh, Lisa, what cat wouldn’t love getting to taste test some treats? Good luck! Thanks for visiting the blog!

  9. Sue

    My old boy, Midnight, would love more kitty treats! Maybe he will quit walking on my keyboard then. 🙂

    • Amy Shojai

      Ah yes, the kitty on the keyboard, LOL! Thanks for the comment, Sue (great to see you here!). Good luck!

  10. Lynette George

    My husband and I run a cat rescue/shelter operation and we do it on a thread budget (A shoestring budget would be like having a million bucks to us.) out of our own pocket and the generosity of others. We’d love to feed a specific cat food, but since we’re feeding between 75 and 100 kitties at all times, we have to feed what has been donated and, if that runs out, whatever our tiny pocketbook will allow. Of course, they never go hungry, but it would be great to give them a special, high quality treat. As rescue kitties, they’ve already been through so much, any little extra is really, really special to them … and to us.

    • Amy Shojai

      Wow, Lynette, paws crossed you win a bunch of kitty food for the rescues. Thanks for the comments–and THANK YOU for all you do for the cats.

  11. Dianne Cannon

    Let’s see. There is Mama Sara and three siblings (seniors). Lady Bug and Carl siblings (seniors). Katy Katleen(Calico), Izzi Belle (senior), Little Man, Abby Gail, and Pink (youngest 2yrs).

    All Rescues. We sure could use some extra morsels to help tide us over one month….

    • Amy Shojai

      Wow, sounds like they’re all very deserving of treats, indeed! Thanks for commenting, good luck!



  1. Ask Amy: Cat Wants Pets When I Get Up & FREE FOOD ANNOUNCED! | AMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] the winners of the #HillsPet food treat baskets! On November 15 the blog invited folks to comment why their…
  2. Fat Pets? Pudgy Pooches & Tubby Tabbies: How to Slim Down Fat PetsAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] Curb Snacks. Eliminating or reducing treats easily cuts calories. Instead, reserve part of the pet’s regular diet—a handful of…
  3. Food Obsessed Pets: Here's Why Pets Gobble Food & What to DoAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] kibble and practiced snatch-and-grab attacks to gobble food from our dinner plates. You can use treats (within reason!) to…
  4. Sick Kitty: What to Do About Anorexia When Pets Won't EatAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] your individual pet’s routine and preferences. You can use treats to strengthen your bond and make cats friendlier. Read…
  5. Does My Cat Hate Me? Mend Your Bond with Environmental EnrichmentAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] I know many of y’all now work at home. Maybe the kitty loves the idea, or maybe you’ve hissed…

Leave a Reply


Recent Posts

Cat Hairballs & Shedding: 7 Tips to Solve the Big Hairy Deal

Karma-Kat recently has “urped” up more cat hairballs, and I know why. I bet you didn’t know that in hot weather, cats lick and groom themselves to cool off. Of course, that can lead to more hairballs, so in hot weather or shedding season, you may see an uptick in these problems.

But swallowing lots of fur isn’t healthy, and hairballs are more than a nasty nuisance. Kitties that produce three or more hairballs a month should be checked by the vet to rule out other health issues.

Hairballs cause diarrhea, appetite loss, coughing, retching, constipation—or even deadly intestinal blockage. Cats have had hairballs as big as baseballs that require surgery to be removed! Most cases won’t need surgery, though, and most hairballs can be easily eliminated. Refer to these tips to untangle your cat hairballs problems.

Tips for Adopt A Cat Month: Shelter Cats Rock!

I see so many kitten pictures on social media these days. Every June, we celebrate National Adopt A Cat Month (sponsored by American Humane Association) and also National Adopt A Shelter Cat Month (sponsored by the ASPCA. Two holidays wrapped up in one, and how appropriate, since June is kitten season.

But cats can be adopted year around. Both of our cats came to us as “dumped” kitties, showing up on the back porch. When you adopt from a shelter, though, you have the advantage of planning for the new kitty’s arrival. Any time is a good time to bring a new furry wonder into your life. Whether you adopt a shelter cat, foster a kitten, or adopt a cat that shows up on the doorstep, they’re all worthy of love. Right? Here’s my tips guide for cat adoption…

Safe Hot Weather Games for Pets: Keep Cats & Dogs Cool in Hot Weather

Yikes! It’s hot-hot-hot here in Texas. We’ve hit triple digits already. Shadow-Pup is NOT happy. He misses his ZOOMIES in the back garden, but I’m afraid to let him overdo too much. It’s time for hot weather games for pets and keeping cats and dogs cool in hot weather. This year, I’ve invested in more indoor fun for Karma-Kat and Shadow-pup, some with the help of pet products companies sharing neato-torpedo products. Here are some of my favorite pet hot weather games, including Tearribles, Purrini, and LifePro Dog Treatmill (giving some schtuff away!).

What kind of cat toys float your kitty’s boat?  Do your pets enjoy water fountains? Would your hot dog relish a cooling bed, or a wading pool? I offer some more hot weather games and tips in the ASK AMY video, below.

And for a flash from the past, enjoy the Magical-Dawg video of some water fun. I need to get that doggy tub out this year and see if Shadow might indulge.

How do your dogs deal with the weather? Please share your tips for keeping hot dogs cool customers!

Fearful Fido? Know the Signs of Dog Fear, Anxiety, and Stress (FAS)

June is Pet Anxiety Awareness Month. Do you have a fearful Fido? Do you need help with the fireworks and loud thunderstorms happening this time of year that makes dogs scared? It seems silly, but some dogs feel stress when their human wears a hat! I wanted to share some resources for recognizing and understanding signs of canine fear, anxiety, and stress.

While it’s normal for dogs to be cautious and not run head on into traffic, too much stress and anxiety isn’t healthy. Fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS) also affect the immune system, impacting both physical and emotional health.

Up to 20 percent of dogs will be born prone to introversion and fear. Proper socialization improves puppy confidence, but abuse or poor socialization can result in anxiety-ridden adults. Pain or illness also can cause anxiety so these dogs associate certain kinds of handling with discomfort. Ongoing anxiety, stress or fear may lead to fear aggression.

Extreme fear interferes with learning, making it even more difficult to help dogs overcome the angst. Fearful dogs quickly recognize that escape behaviors or fear aggression makes the scary situation go away, so they learn to repeat these behaviors…

Chewy Once a Year Blue Box Event: Pet Products Savings for Your Special Pets

Y’all may notice something different about my blog–yes, it’s been spiffed up, thanks to a fantastic web designer! Seems the perfect time to celebrate with some great opportunities for your pets. Once a year, Chewy price drops all kinds of pet goodies in their Blue Box Event–good from June 21 through June 24, so don’t wait. Stock up on all the must-have dog products and cat essentials, as well as pocket pet supplies. Oh, you’ll find way too many bargains for me to list simply by going to this Blue Box Event link. But here are some of my favorites. Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat put in their orders. Shhh, keep it a secret or your fur buddies may swipe the credit cards and have a fun time!

Get a $25 eCard Gift Card when you purchase $75 worth of select pet products favorites.

Up to 50% Off Select Toys During Chewy’s Blue Box Event.

Up to 50% Off Select Disney During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Up to 30% Off Once-a-Year Pet Parent Deals During Chewy’s Blue Box Event

Learn about more savings…

Small In Show: Calling All Pocket (and other ) Pets!

Why do dogs and cats get all the love? Well… they deserve it, but so do the #SmallInShow contenders, as Rainn Wilson says. “Small pets are truly overlooked. Everyone goes straight to dogs and cats. But Kaytee is out to show that these little creatures have big personalities and are just as worthy to be part of your family. That’s something that was easy to get behind,” said Rainn Wilson.

No, I’m not compensated to share this. It just tickled me, and we all need some giggles these days. Back in the day, I loved my hamsters Whiskers, Snowball, and Cinnamon, and the first pet article I ever sold (for real live dollar$$$) detailed the story of my rescue parrot, Venus, a spectacle Amazon. Pocket pets deserve the love, too.

Besides, I miss attending Westminster, and certainly understand where Rainn comes from in his disappointment. Enjoy this fun MOCK-umentary from Kaytee. The company is launching its inaugural #SmallinShow Award Show, inviting pet parents of hamsters, bunnies, mice, birds and other small companions to share images and stories of their mini heroes across social media. The #SmallinShow Award Show will culminate with the crowning of three winners who will each receive a one-year supply of Kaytee products….

Work Goes To the Dogs & Cats: PSI’s Take Your Pet To Work Week!

Today, it’s PSI’s TAKE YOUR CAT TO WORK DAY! At my house, every week is Take Your Pet to Work Week. This year, it falls on June 20-24, with the CATS’ day on Monday, and the DOGS’ day on Friday. For many folks who continue to work at home, they experience the joy–and challenges–of work with furry companions 24/7.

Created by Pet Sitters International in 1999 to help promote pet adoptions, this week celebrates the 24th anniversary of the event. I’ve written about this nearly every year, so you’ll recognize some of the pictures in the blog.

This year, of course, we have a new dog, Shadow, helping us celebrate. And we’re still navigating a new “normal” after losing our beloved Bravo following his cancer diagnosis. You’ll see some pictures of Bravo with Karma and Shadow, below, as I can’t bear to remove them just yet…after all, he’s still one of my Furry Muses…

Heatstroke Dangers: Pet First Aid for Hot Weather Play & Travel

These hot summer days, Shadow loves to run and play outside, but the hot weather can lead to heatstroke dangers in dogs as well as people. This week, we topped the thermostat at 101 degrees, and it will continue to hover near three digits all week long. Fun in the sun can quickly turn to tragedy if pet owners don’t take precautions to prevent cat and dog heatstroke dangers. Pet heatstroke is common because cats and dogs can’t effectively keep cool in hot summer weather. It becomes especially dangerous during summer travel in cars. Here’s how to save your pets’ lives if they overheat…

How to Prepare for a Disaster: Pet Preparedness & Tips

With the latest hurricane on the way, it's time to revisit your pet disaster plan. You do have one, right? After Katrina and Harvey, everyone should understand the importance of disaster preparation. June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and in the fall, September...

Check the Chip: All About Pet Microchips

It's Check Your Pet Microchip Day on August 15! It's early to check but everyone needs a reminder. Your cats and dogs are microchipped, right? When he was (ahem) neutered, Shadow-Pup got his microchip. Both Bravo-Dawg and Karma-Kat already had microchips so that if...

Visit Amy’s Website

Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

On Demand Writer Coaching is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to



Pin It on Pinterest

Share This