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?
TREATS & TIPS FOR TABBIES
The Ask Amy video, below, was created prior to me being asked to write this post. But it’s a purr-fect fit! 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.”
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 my Magical-Dawg 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.
Choice in treats typically is decided by the human with the pocketbook, 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, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition is no different.
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. Maybe dip your finger in the canned food like Hill’s Gourmet Turkey Entree. My cat Seren now will come when called, sit up, wave and (we’re working on) speak! with just me holding up my finger–she EXPECTS there will be something tasty awaiting her.
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!
FEEDING DIFFERENT FOODS?
Well, yes. Some cats do very well on the same old food all the time, but others relish variety. And let’s face it, PEOPLE love variety even if cats could eat MOUSE every single day, so it makes us feel good to offer variety to our beloved cats, too. For instance, you could choose to provide a dry kibble for all day “grazing,” and then give a bonus wet food for the evening or morning meal.
I received some of the Hill’s Crunchy Creations grain free treats last May when I attended the BlogPaws conference, and Seren-kitty LOVES them! Of course, she’ll just about do back flips for Philly cream cheese, too (shhhh, don’t tell the Hill’s folks, I know that’s not on the cat nutrition best-practices list). Seren is only 5 pounds so she could do with gaining a bit of weight–but if your cat is a bit tubby, try putting treats in a cat puzzle toy for added feline enjoyment (and exercise).
THE LEGAL STUFF: This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Science Diet for Cats, but I only shares information I feel is relevant to my readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.
Here’s your chance to try out the notion of complementary food. Hill’s is giving way a tasty basket of kitty goodies that includes a “trifecta” of cat nutrition–dry, wet and treats–all formulated to be easily mixed and matched to provide the same precise Hill’s nutrition you’ve come to expect.
HILL’S IS GIVING AWAY 20 GIFT BAGS!
(Give-away is limited to the USA and Canada)
Here’s how to enter. Leave a COMMENT below saying why your cat deserves special treats (hey, they ALL do!). I will figure out a way for my SEREN-KITTY to choose the winner on THURSDAY NOVEMBER 21 and will announce the 20 winners on the next day, Friday, November 22. Now that should give the kitties a true and proper Thanksgiving to celebrate! Go tell all your shelter and foster pet parents and get them to enter, too–SHARE the bounty, let’s spread some tasty love!
Be sure to check out the video, below. What are some other tips you have for helping cats act “friendlier?”
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? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.