Can Kittens Have Treats?

Dr. Martha G. Cline, DVM, DACVIM
By Dr. Martha G. Cline, DVM, DACVIM
Updated: 5/17/20242-4 minutes
grey kitten eating food out of a person's hand

Your new kitten is, of course, adorable. So you want to do everything you can to make them happy in their new home. If you’re like many pet owners, that includes wanting to give them treats.  

As a responsible (as well as besotted) pet owner, you’re likely also asking yourself whether treats are something you should give your kitten. If so, what type of treats should you choose?

When Can Kittens Have Treats? 

While treats may be available for kittens, if your kitten is younger than eight weeks, or not fully transitioned to kitten food from mother’s milk or formula, you should wait to introduce them. They can add extra calories to your kitten’s diet and may not provide the complete-and-balanced nutrition your developing youngster needs.  

When your kitten is a bit older, if you’d like to introduce treats, make sure the calories from treats do not make up more than 10% of your kitten’s caloric intake.

Can Kittens Have Cat Treats?  

Most cat treats are not designed with kittens in mind and can be very high in calories. Their large size can also cause choking. The best types of treats for your kitten are treats that are made with their age and size in mind.

What Are Good Treats for Kittens? 

The best treats for kittens are ones that are created to accommodate a kitten’s nutritional needs, as well as their tiny size (especially their tiny mouths). 

  • Kitten Teething Treats. Starting at three to four months until around six months, your kitten will go through a teething period, when their 26 baby teeth will be replaced by 30 adult teeth. During this time, they may experience gum pain and a need to chew. Kitten teething treats can help to relieve their irritated gums.  

  • Kitten Teeth Cleaning Treats. Dental care is important for cats, especially since most feline tooth and gum issues are preventable. Once your kitten has their full set of adult teeth, and their gums have recovered from the teething process, ask your veterinarian if it’s time to begin regularly brushing your kitten’s teeth and providing cat dental health treats.  

Many experts recommend waiting until your kitten has matured to adulthood before providing teeth cleaning treats. When your veterinarian advises, Purina treats such as DentaLife can help reduce tartar buildup and keep your feline friend’s teeth healthy.

How Many Treats a Day for a Kitten?  

You might be tempted to give your kitten a tasty treat every time they do something endearing. But add up the number of times your kitten’s antics make you smile during any given day, and you’ll understand that this might not be the best way to decide when to treat your kitten.  

Remember that for any age cat, treats should make up no more than 10% of their daily calorie needs. You should also reduce their daily meal serving calories by the same amount.

How to Give Treats to Your Kitten 

Treats can certainly enhance moments you spend together with your kitten. On a more practical note, they can also help motivate your kitten to learn new skills.

Kitten Treats for Training 

While treats are very popular with dog owners (and with their dogs as well), they are used to a lesser degree with cat owners, possibly because fewer of them engage their cats in training.   

However, training is actually a great reason to introduce treats to your cat. They can be a powerful tool to encourage, and reward, good behavior. Cats do respond to positive reinforcement, and treats are an easy reward that cats enjoy.   

Food-based rewards can serve as an effective tool during kitten training. The promise of a tasty tidbit can be a powerful motivator to help keep your kitten focused, and to help them master a new skill.  

To make that reward even more enticing, try scheduling training sessions before mealtimes. But make the training sessions short, because a hungry kitten will quickly lose patience and become less engaged. For more training and enrichment ideas for your kitten, download the myPurina app.

Treat Your Kitten Right, for All the Right Reasons 

Treats can enrich your relationship with your kitten, by creating moments of bonding, and motivation for training and learning. Just remember to provide them responsibly, so they can bring an extra bit of delight to your kitten’s day, and to yours…for many days to come.  

For more expert tips on feeding your kitten, explore our other kitten feeding articles.

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