Most of us are guilty of sneaking a tasty table scrap to our pets during or after dinner. While there is not anything inherently wrong with giving your pet an occasional morsel left on your plate, there are some very good reasons to limit your handouts to treats made for cats. Giving cats a bit of leftover lean meat will not cause problems, but unfortunately, many people do not stop there.
Once a moocher, always a moocher.
Once you reward begging behavior with table scraps or something off your plate, you can expect to see the same hopeful eyes looking up at you every meal from that day forward. That is fine if you do not mind your cat disrupting your dinner. If you do mind, you will have a hard time training your cat to stay out of the room now that she knows she just might get a handout. Also, some dinner guests do not appreciate a cat that jumps on the table for her share.
Table scraps are the quickest route to weight problems.
Many times scraps are nothing more than empty calories. And since you probably save that hunk of fat or sweet morsel you know your cat will like, she gets all the wrong food for a trim waistline. Overweight pets, besides not looking their best, have a higher risk of many health problems.
Table scraps do not offer the nutrition cats need.
The more you fill your cat up with your food the less likely she is to eat her own. And since our nutritional needs are not the same as our cats', your cat will get less of the vitamins, amino acids, and minerals she needs and probably more of those she does not need. Cats are obligate carnivores which means they must eat meat and generally do not digest vegetable matter very well.
Table scraps are a leading cause of digestive disorders.
The rich foods we eat can wreak havoc on your cat's digestive tract. A simple, consistent diet keeps their system functioning as it should. Throw in your very different foods and spices and do not be surprised if your cat has bad gas, bad breath, loose stools, etc.
You could end up with a finicky eater.
If your cat develops a taste for your food, she may stop eating her own. After all, which would you prefer, dry cat food or juicy steak and hamburger every night?
You may create a thief.
Pets that are used to eating human food are more likely to devour the turkey leftovers you left unattended on the kitchen table. Or bury their heads in the garbage can to get at that fish you 'forgot' to give them. As you know, many bones, chocolate, and other food items can be dangerous to your cat.
Treats are a better choice.
A cat treat gives you and your pet the same satisfaction as giving or receiving a table scrap. It promotes that special bond between you and your cat, it gives your pet a new, delicious taste to savor, and it makes both of you feel good.
Quality cat treats, however, are usually more nutritious and tend to have far fewer calories than most table scraps.
There are other benefits, too, depending on the type of treat you buy. Hard treats are good for your pet's teeth as they help scrape off plaque and tartar that can cause dental problems. Many cat treats have added vitamins and nutrients, like taurine, which they do not get from table scraps.
Treats also do not encourage bad behavior. In fact, it is usually the opposite. Treats can be used during training to reward good behavior, but be careful not to overdo it.
As with anything in life, treats should be used in moderation. Too many treats can add weight and affect your cat's meals. As a rule, treats should never account for more than 10% of your cat's food intake. Your cat's food is her sole source for the nutrition she needs, so do not 'fill' your pet up on treats before meal time. Remember, no chocolate, no bones that splinter easily, and no high-fat, greasy foods.