The worst cat treats are filled with unnecessary carbohydrates, low-quality meat ingredients, and preservatives.

Most dental cat treats actually do the opposite of keeping teeth clean.

High carbohydrate treats leave a starchy residue on cat teeth.

These cat treats will add unnecessary calories and can lead to hunger and weight gain.

These are the worst cat treats you should avoid:

  1. Greenies Dental Treats
  2. Temptations Cat Treats
  3. Meow Mix Brushing Bites Treats
  4. Whole Hearted Smart Smiles Dental Treats for Cats
  5. Whole Hearted Soft Center Crunchy Treats
  6. Natural Cat Treats True Chews
  7. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Cat Treats
  8. Blue Buffalo Bursts Treats
  9. Wellness Kittles Crunchy Treats

Jump to healthy cat treats if you would like better options.

Check out this guide today or save THIS PIN to your Cat Food board on Pinterest.

pin image worst cat treats treats you should avoid

These are the worst cat treats based on 3 facts:

  1. AAFCO product name rules
  2. AAFCO ingredient definitions
  3. Approximate carb amount

If you do not understand these facts, you will not understand this article.

Please read the following for a better understanding:

According to a CRS Report for Congress on animal rendering, rendered meats (which can include by-products and meat meals) can include dead animals from:

  • Farms
  • Ranches
  • Feedlots
  • Marketing barns
  • Animal shelters
  • Other facilities

Indeed, this is scary stuff. But these are the facts from official documents.

Additionally, you may check out my YouTube playlist on how to read cat food labels properly. These rules apply to all pet food products, including treats.

Greenies Dental Treats

greenies bad dental cat treats
  • Product name = Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor
  • Flavor rule = 0-2.9% chicken
  • Carb amount = approx 37% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = chicken meal, poultry fat, natural poultry flavor
  • Other ingredients = ground wheat, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, oat fiber, ground flaxseed, brewers dried yeast, dried catnip, and the rest are preservatives, colors, and vitamins and minerals (most of which are synthetic)

There’s no actual chicken meat in these cat treats based on AAFCO product name rules.

The only meat source is from the ground, dried meal, mystery poultry fat, and mystery poultry flavor.

If these treats had at least 3% chicken, the product name would be “with chicken” instead of “chicken flavor.”

So that 27% percent protein comes from the grains and cereal ingredients. Not meat.

Additionally, 37% of this product comes from carbohydrates.

Cats lack the enzyme amylase (required to digest carbs) in their saliva.

So if cats can’t break down carbs properly in their mouth…

How can these high carbohydrate treats be good for dental health?

By the way, “natural” just means it is derived from an animal or plant. Rendered meats (potentially diseased meats) are technically “natural” because it is from an animal.

The best way to keep the teeth clean is to reap the benefits of raw meaty bones.

temptations unhealthy cat treats

Temptations Cat Treats

  • Product name = Tasty Chicken Flavor
  • Flavor rule = 0-2.9% chicken
  • Carb amount = approx 37% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = chicken by-product meal, animal fat, dried meat by-products
  • Other ingredients = ground corn, brewers rice, wheat flour, natural flavors, brewers dried yeast, dried cheese, and the rest are vitamins and minerals (most of which are synthetic)

Based on AAFCO rules we know that the actual chicken amount is somewhere between 0-2.9%.

Same thing as Greenies here. If there was at least 3% chicken, the product name would be “with chicken” instead of “chicken flavor.”

The protein may seem high.

But most of that comes from plant-based ingredients since the carb amount is higher.

We see two types of mystery meats here too. Animal fat and dried meat by-products could mean anything. Your guess is as good as mine.

Notice that these treats are made by MARS? The same company that makes junk, candy food for humans.

I cannot believe that these treats say they can be fed as main meals.

That would be like us eating dry, sugary cereal for every meal. Every day. For months and years.

Meow Mix Brushing Bites Treats

  • Product name = Brushing Bites Made with Real Salmon
  • with rule = 3-24.9% salmon
  • Carb amount = approx 37% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = chicken by-product meal, animal digest, animal fat, salmon, turkey, chicken breast, fish protein concentrate
  • Other ingredients = cornflour, ground whole wheat, corn gluten meal, brewers dried yeast, oat fiber, and the rest are preservatives, colors, and vitamins and minerals (most of which are synthetic)

Salmon is 7th on the list.

But I thought these treats are made with real salmon?

Do you see how tricky they are?

BHA is used twice as a preservative. This is dangerous because BHA causes cancer in rats and mice at high doses.

These treats also include yellow 5, red 40, and blue 1.

These color dyes can cause cancer and hypersensitivity reactions.

Animal fat and animal digest are vague and mysterious. Which animal?

Yuck.

Whole Hearted Smart Smiles Dental Treats for Cats

bad cat treats for teeth whole hearted smart smiles
  • Product name = Chicken Flavor
  • Flavor rule = 0-2.9% chicken
  • Carb amount = approx 46% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = chicken meal, chicken liver, chicken fat
  • Other ingredients = tapioca starch, ground peas, coconut glycerin, pea protein, natural flavors, sunflower lecithin, dried chicory root, turmeric, dried coagulans fermentation product, peppermint oil, and the rest are preservatives, colors, and vitamins and minerals (most of which are synthetic)

We see that chicken meal, a rendered ingredient, is first.

And we have many more “other” ingredients than meat ingredients.

Makes sense considering there’s no minimum requirement for chicken. And that amount is guaranteed less than 3%.

Use AAFCO product name rules!

Additionally, almost half of this product comes from carbs.

Whole Hearted Soft Center Crunchy Treats

bad cat treats for teeth whole hearted soft center crunchy treats
  • Product name = Chicken & Liver Flavor
  • Flavor rule = 0-2.9% chicken and liver combined
  • Carb amount = approx 31% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = chicken meal, chicken fat, natural pork flavor, pork fat, spray-dried chicken liver, tuna oil
  • Other ingredients = tapioca starch, barley flour, rice flour, brewers dried yeast, dried whey, canola lecithin, and the rest are preservatives, colors, and vitamins and minerals (most of which are synthetic)

Would you ever suspect pork?

It seems like this one has more meat ingredients.

But these meat ingredients are meals, fat, and flavor. None of which are whole meat sources.

Remember, there’s no minimum requirement of chicken and liver here.

And if there was at least 3% chicken and liver, the product name would be “with chicken and liver” instead of “chicken and liver flavor.”

Natural Cat Treats True Chews

bad treats for cat teeth true chews natural
  • Product name = Chicken Recipe
  • Recipe rule = 25-94.9% chicken
  • Carb amount = approx 31% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = chicken, dried chicken liver, chicken broth
  • Other ingredients = vegetable glycerin, pea starch, potatoes, brewers dried yeast, pea protein, oat fiber, gelatin, natural flavors, distilled vinegar, paprika

This is the first cat treat that has actual meat in it!

The minimum requirement for chicken is 25%. But there are many more carb ingredients than meat.

“The first ingredient is meat” – yes, but muscle meat is 75% moisture (water).

Moisture is removed when the treats are processed. So 3/4 of that chicken is gone.

Approximately 1/3 of the product is carbohydrates.

This is a prime example that you can’t only rely on seeing meat as the first ingredient.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Cat Treats

bad treats for cat teeth blue buffalo wilderness
  • Product name = Trout flavor
  • Flavor rule = 0-2.9% trout
  • Carb amount = approx 43% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = trout, chicken meal, chicken fat
  • Other ingredients = potato starch, peas, brewers dried yeast, natural flavor, and the rest are vitamins and preservatives (most of which are synthetic)

You might think that these treats have limited ingredients. The list is smaller than the other treats we’ve looked at so far.

But there’s no minimum requirement for meat here. And it’s guaranteed less than 3% trout.

The bulk of these treats are carbs. Not good for cat teeth or overall health.

Blue Buffalo Bursts Treats

bad cat treats blue buffalo bursts
  • Product name = with Paw-Lickin’ Chicken
  • with rule = 3-24.9% chicken
  • Carb amount = approx 41% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = deboned chicken, chicken meal, chicken fat, pork fat
  • Other ingredients = brown rice, barley, tapioca starch, oatmeal, peas, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, dried whey, lecithin, yeast extract, and the rest are vitamins and preservatives (most of which are synthetic)

Here we see a bit more meat from Blue Buffalo. But still nothing impressive.

They rely heavily on bulking up the treats with carb ingredients.

And they seem to love citric acid which can cause digestive upset.

Dried whey is a cheap protein source from cow’s milk and can encourage allergies.

Surprised to see pork again?

Wellness Kittles Crunchy Treats

bad cat treats wellness kittles
  • Product name: Chicken & Cranberries Recipe
  • Recipe rule = 25-94.9% chicken and cranberries combined
  • Carb amount = approx 41% on a dry matter basis
  • Meat ingredients = deboned chicken, chicken meal, herring meal, chicken fat
  • Other ingredients = potatoes, chickpeas, peas, cranberries, blueberries, natural flavor, ground flaxseed, salmon oil, rosemary extract (used as a preservative), green tea extract, and spearmint extract

Again we’re heavy on the carbs here.

The front of the bag says “real chicken #1 ingredient”.

Yes it’s the first ingredient. But it doesn’t make up the majority of the treat.

We know that the minimum requirement for chicken and cranberries combined is 25% based on AAFCO rules.

If these treats were made with more chicken, the treat name would simply be “chicken recipe” or better yet, “chicken treats”.

The bag also says “naturally gluten and grain-free”.

But that does not mean carb-free. Potatoes, chickpeas, and peas are all sources of carbs.

So why don’t these cat treats clean teeth?

The very high amount of carbohydrates in these treats will not benefit your cat’s teeth. Cats lack the enzyme amylase in their saliva.

Amylase is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates. So instead of cleaning teeth, carbohydrates leave a starchy residue on the teeth.

Relying on crunchy treats to clean your cat’s teeth would be like your dentist telling you…

“Nah, don’t brush your teeth. Just eat crunchy granola instead.”

At least humans produce amylase in their saliva!

Unless you are feeding whole prey or raw meaty bones (as part of a balanced raw diet), you cannot rely on food to clean your cat’s teeth.

Additionally, these poor-quality ingredients lead to imbalances in your cat’s natural ability to heal himself.

Many of these worst cat food ingredients can lead to weight gain, allergies, diabetes, cancer, and even death (like aflatoxin mold found in grains).

The best preventive dental care is tooth brushing and a healthy diet. Not overly processed burnt brown balls full of diseased mystery meat, carbohydrates, and carcinogenic dyes.

Check out healthy cat teeth for proper dental care.

Need help switching your cat’s food properly? My Switch to Raw Blueprint Course is for you!

What are the healthiest cat treats?

The healthiest cat treats are made with one ingredient: meat. Examples include turkey thigh, chicken breast, beef liver, lamb tripe. Simple, meat-only ingredients. Cats are obligate carnivores and do not benefit from carbohydrates in their diet.

Check out healthy cat treats or watch the video below for healthy cat treat brands I use and trust.

Final thoughts on worst cat treats

The worst cat treats are made with poor-quality ingredients that cats aren’t designed to eat.

Cats need meat in their diet. And these worst cat treats include very low-quality meat ingredients.

The majority of these cat treats are from carbohydrates.

Cats cannot break down carbohydrates in their mouth properly. Therefore, high carbohydrate treats are not good for cat teeth.

Instead, buy freeze-dried or dehydrated meat and organ treats.

Healthy cat treats may be pricier. But your long-term savings in your cat’s health are worth it.

Need help switching your cat’s food properly? My Switch to Raw Blueprint Course is for you!