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Can Cats Eat Cheerios? Everything You Need to Know!

Honey Nut Cheerios has long been one of America’s favorite cereal brands. They are tasty and sweet without being overpowering. Their tiny little O’s also make them easy to give as treats to your cat or dog.

However, is it is a good idea to give your cat a Cheerio for a snack? The short answer is no, it’s not.

Cheerios are not a toxic food for your cat. However, none of their ingredients are beneficial for your cat.

Eating too many of them over a prolonged period can end up causing health risks and put your cat’s life in danger. That is only likely to happen if they eat many of them for weeks at a time, but it is still good to keep in mind when you want to find easy treats for your cat to enjoy.

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Can Cats Eat Cheerios?

Cats can eat a Cheerio or two without feeling any adverse effects unless they have a sensitivity to gluten or sugar. That doesn’t mean that Cheerios make good snacks for a cat, though. It is best to find something else to give them for a treat.

There are healthier options that you can give your cat over the long term without them experiencing adverse side effects later.

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Image Credit: Milles Studio, Shutterstock

Cheerios do not make a good option for your cat to eat even as a treat because of the ingredients used to make them. These include gluten and artificial sugars, both of which are harmful over the long term for your cat.

The Danger of Sugar for Your Cat

Cheerios get part of their sweet taste from the honey used in the recipe. However, only a bit of honey gets used, and the rest of the sweetener comes from added sugars or sugar replacements.

Certain kinds of artificial sugars are dangerous for a cat. Sucralose can lead to highly uncomfortable gastrointestinal upset.

The truth is that cats’ systems are not made to process sugar well. In the wild, they do not naturally eat anything with sugar in it, so they have not adapted to be able to include sugar in their diets. If your cat eats sugar or something with too much sugar in it, it can often lead to mild to severe gastrointestinal upset.

Keep a lookout for signs that your cat has over-consumed sugar. Symptoms that they might display include vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, and tooth decay, and over the long term, excess sugar consumption could manifest in diabetes.

The Danger of Grains for Cats

Grains are not as harmful to cats as sugars can be. Instead, these are more neutral participants in a cat’s diet. They essentially act as “fillers” because they don’t break down well in a cat’s system.

Grains can be a good source of protein and even provide vitamins and minerals that cats need. However, the benefit they bring to the table is minimal, and their negative impact effectively cancels it out.

Since grains act more as fillers, they make your cat feel full and satisfied with their meal earlier than they should be. Instead of getting a meal packed with nutrition, they eat less and get less from it.

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Cats’ Natural Diets

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need good protein sources that they can easily get from animals to survive. In the wild, they eat the animals that they hunt as prey.

While it is no longer recommended to feed your domesticated cat the raw diet that they might have eaten in the wild, you should try to find food that is as species-appropriate as possible. Cats naturally consume small amounts of plants within their prey’s digestive systems, but otherwise, their need for fruits and vegetables is minimal.

It is for this reason that Cheerios are not a good option for your cat. They do not include anything that is more beneficial to them than harmful.

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Healthier Alternatives to Cheerios for Your Cat

If you want a snack that you can give your cat that is easy but still healthy, there are plenty of options. Mimic their natural diet by giving them fish or meat cut into tiny chunks without bones.

You can also give them cheese. Just be aware that many cats are lactose-intolerant or sensitive and may get an upset stomach after consuming dairy.

There are plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables for them, even if these don’t mimic their natural diet. You can give them baby carrots, berries, melons, or pieces of banana. Which ones will be up to your cat’s preferences, since not all cats will be interested in fruits and vegetables.

Finally, try supplementing their food with rice if they need extra incentive to eat. It gives them a bit of texture and a little protein without adding gluten or unnecessary fats into their diet.

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Featured Image: ponce_photography, Pixabay