We all want to treat our kitty to a delicious cat treat now and then. Dreamies Cat Treats, made by MARS, are one of the most popular on the market in the UK, but are they really the best reward for your kitty? There are a number of different flavours, so for this review, we'll be focusing on their classic Dreamies™ Cheese flavour.
We'll start by exploring what goes into them, following onto whether they're addictive like some internet users suggest, finishing with how to look for a healthy treat for your cat. Comfortably seated? Let's begin...
What is in Dreamies Cat Treats?
We're going to start things off at the back, the back of the pack that is, with the ingredients list:
Composition: meat and animal derivatives (including 4% chicken), cereals, oils and fats, derivatives of vegetable origin, vegetable protein extracts, milk and milk derivatives (including 4% cheese), minerals.
In the UK, there's no legal obligation for pet food and treat companies to list individual ingredients in their products, or their % either. Instead, they can simply list them by category. This means a lot of ingredients may be hidden, and you may not be fully aware of what you’re giving to your furry feline. For example, if you have a look at their Tuna flavour, the ingredients composition looks exactly the same excluding the milk.
We're going to break down the categories that Dreamies and other cat treats provide to give you a clearer idea of what they really mean.
Meat and Animal Derivatives (4% chicken)
According to European law, 'meat and animal derivatives' means; "all the fleshy parts of slaughtered warm-blooded land animals, fresh or preserved by appropriate treatment, and all products and derivatives of the processing of the carcass or parts of the carcass of warm-blooded land animals".
This leaves a lot on the table. For example which animals, and what parts of them are being used, is it meat or beaks? Whilst food intolerances are uncommon in cats the most common food intolerances are from beef, fish, chicken, and dairy products. So if your kitty must avoid any of these ingredients, avoid any treat where you can't be sure what's actually included.
It's a legal requirement to list ingredients in order of weight but if products do not declare the exact percentage, you can't be sure how much meat is there. Our obligate carnivore kitties, have adapted to require a diet that's high in animal protein as cats are unable to synthesise certain amino acids themselves, and must get this from their diet. Of course it's worth bearing in mind that treats are supplementary to your cat's overall diet and as such doesn't need to provide your cat with complete nutrition.
Cereals are the second category listed by Dreamies Cat Treats. This encompasses a whole range of different grains. To be precise, 9, that includes wheat, rye, barley, oat, rice, millet, corn, sorghum, and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). As no detailed specification is provided, the recipe could include one, two, or all nine of these grains in different combinations. If your kitty has an intolerance to certain grains and must avoid them, this could be problematic if you can't identify if the problem ingredient is in the cat treat.
Oils and Fats
Next up, oils and fats! We know our kitties are obligate carnivores and animal sources are easier to digest but oils and fats could be from either plants or animal sources (or both!), refined or unrefined, high-quality or low-quality, you get the gist, there's a whole variety and it’s impossible to know just by looking at the label.
A refined oil is one that has been bleached or deodorised after extraction. They're known to increase bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels. So for kitties that need to watch out for any of these, knowing which oils are included is essential.
Derivatives of Vegetable Origin
Again this is a very vague phrase, which means you simply don't know what you’re getting in each treat. Vague ingredients allows suppliers to switch up ingredients based on what's most cost-effective at the time. So your Dreamies cat treats could change batch to batch.
Just as minerals are essential for our own health, they're essential for our kitties' health too. Contributing to almost all their bodily reactions, from enzyme formation to oxygen transportation. Dreamies treats mention Potassium Iodide and Copper (Cupric) Sulphate. Iodine is required to make thyroid hormones, which play a vital role in brain and bone development. Whilst Copper Sulphate (primarily the copper element) plays a vital role in enzyme reactions.
Vegetable Protein Extracts
Now onto the vegetable protein extracts. As we've mentioned, cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require animal protein in their diet. This is due to the fact they are unable to synthesise certain essential amino acids, like Taurine, for themselves. Added vegetable protein extracts do not help provide these amino acids, and might misguide you if you were to look at the analytical constituents. This could show a high level of analytical protein %, but if the protein isn't from an animal source, it's not going to help your cat thrive.
Milk and Milk Derivatives (including 4% Cheese)
Dairy isn't a natural part of any kitties diet, despite what you might have seen in Aristocats. This means it could upset their digestive system, which is why we exclude dairy from our full range of gut-friendly cat food and treats. Check out our blog 'Can cats eat cheese?' for more info on why it's best to avoid dairy.
Are Dreamies Cat Treats addictive?
We've seen some threads of customers concerned that these treats are addictive as their kitty is scarily obsessed with them. Whilst the addictive potential of any food is debatable, cat treats may include added sugars, salts, additives and flavourings. These all make them extremely tasty, but not so healthy. Think sweets for children.
Whilst we all want to give our cat something they love, especially if they're fuss pots, just because they love them doesn't mean they're good for them. If your cat becomes used to treats with high sugar or salt levels, it can also make it harder to transition to healthy natural treats without these ingredients too. So start 'em on the good stuff young!
How to choose a healthy cat treat
When looking for a healthy cat treat we'd always recommend starting by looking at the ingredients on the back. Check if you can actually see and understand what all the ingredients are, or if broad categories are used. For kitties, we'd recommend opting for high animal meat content. Also worth limiting or avoiding added vegetable proteins like pea protein, which can be difficult to digest. Avoid any treats with added sugars, salts or preservatives too.
Our range of cat treats are designed to be both functional and beneficial. With added slippery elm, a prebiotic that can also help with hairballs. We make sure to list every ingredient in our recipes, and often where they come from too, so you know exactly what you're serving. Along with the analytical constituents, to give you even more information!
For kitties looking out for their teeth, you can check out our Gnashers Cat Dental treats. Hand-baked in the UK and served in 100% home compostable treat bags. Baked to a crunch with an active ingredient clinically proven to reduce plaque formation. Plus 50% British chicken to ensure they're the tastiest treato too!
Check the full range out below...