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Can Cats Drink Syrup? Is It Healthy for Them?

Cats tend to explore the world around them with their mouths. No cat parent is free from the looming threat of their cat eating something they aren’t supposed to. But plenty of the things we eat in our daily lives are safe for cat consumption. What about syrup?

Syrup is not toxic to cats. By default, licking a little syrup off your plate won’t kill your cat. However, just like syrup offers little nutrition to humans, it provides little benefits to cats.

divider-catclaw1Cat Nutrition: What Do They Eat?

Cats are known in science as obligate carnivores or hypercarnivores. This classification means that in the wild, cats would consume a diet that is made up of at least 70% animal proteins.

Cat stomachs lack the enzymes needed to break down plant material into nutrients because their bodies are designed to break down exclusively animal proteins.

It is thought that the few plant-based nutrients wild cats consumed would have been in the stomach of their prey. Cats consume every part of their prey, even the bones. So, they won’t just be eating the game, but their prey’s last meal as well—stomach enzymes included!

In this way, cats can meet their limited plant-based nutritional profiles. Much like lactose intolerant humans can take Lactaid to help them break down lactose, cats get the enzymes and partially digested food out of their prey’s stomach and benefit from it.

Additionally, cats don’t need “fast” energy like carbohydrates or sugar. They get most of their energy from animal protein, which keeps them full and powers their bodily functions longer.

Further, cats don’t even have the taste bud receptors for sweet foods; they can’t taste sweet foods at all, and most don’t particularly like them.

Despite this, all cats are unique, and some cats may develop a taste for sweet foods.

Cat eating melons
Image Credit: Guajillo Studio, Shutterstock

Is Syrup Healthy for Cats?

Syrup is not healthy for cats. It provides no nutritional value, especially to cats who do not need fast energy.

Additionally, the high sugar content of syrup requires insulin for your cat to process. Since cats don’t eat sugary foods often, they can’t process sugar that humans do, quickly leading to feline diabetes.

Risks of Feeding Your Cat Syrup

Feline Diabetes

As we’ve already mentioned, feline diabetes is a massive risk if your cat is regularly lapping up syrup off your plate. Any food too high in sugar content can be stressful for your cat’s pancreas and run the risk of overloading it.

Symptoms of feline diabetes include excessive thirst—often paired with increased urination—unexpected weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, changes to gait, and inability to jump.

Sick cat medicines
Image Credit: one photo, Shutterstock

Pancreatitis

Even if your cat doesn’t get diabetes from eating syrup off your plate, eating foods high in sugar can cause the pancreas to become inflamed as it tries to keep up with processing the amount of sugar your cat has eaten.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include low appetite, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and generalized nausea.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Cats don’t usually eat a lot of sugar; their stomachs aren’t used to the texture or compounds present in sugary foods.

Even in small amounts, sugar can upset your cat’s gastrointestinal system when introduced. Symptoms of gastrointestinal upset include decreased appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, and lethargy.

tired sick cat lying on bed
Image Credit: Natata, Shutterstock

Obesity

One of the most significant risks of feeding your cat syrup is obesity. Obesity is prevalent in cats already and providing your cat foods high in calories and low in nutritional values increases the risk of obesity exponentially.

If your cat is starting to look rounder and it’s harder to pick them up for a snuggle than it was before, it’s a good sign that it’s time to cut back on the sugar.

How to Safely Feed Your Cat Syrup

Truthfully, there is no safe way to feed your cat syrup. The syrup is not nutritionally dense for cats, and unlike humans, they aren’t going to resist their instincts to gorge themselves on high-calorie foods just because it’s not healthy. It’s best if you don’t feed your cat syrup at all.

Many human foods can be dangerous for cat consumption. These foods can contain things that can harm cats and cause gastrointestinal upset.

Additionally, be very wary of feeding your cat syrup if you also have a dog. Many syrups are flavored with xylitol. While xylitol doesn’t have any adverse effects on cats, it can be fatal when ingested by dogs.

divider-catclaw1Final Thoughts

Cats may be curious, but that doesn’t mean we should let them eat everything they see. Syrup may not be toxic for them, but it’s certainly not healthy, and pet parents should be cautious when it comes to feeding syrup to their cats.

Not only is it unhealthy for them, but it can also be dangerous for other pets in the household if your cat has access to syrup.

As always, if you suspect your cat has ingested something that they weren’t supposed to, you should check with your veterinarian first. They will be able to guide you through the care of your cat while they monitor them for any unpleasant side effects.

If your cat seems listless or otherwise ill, getting them to an emergency veterinarian can very likely save their life!

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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