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Can Cats Eat Cheetos? What You Need to Know

We’ve all seen the Cheetos commercials with a jaguar cartoon. He’s technically a cat, so can cats eat Cheetos? Truthfully, even humans probably shouldn’t even eat Cheetos. They are chock-full of preservatives, artificial dyes, and harmful additives.

The same sentiment extends to our kitties. Even though they’re cheesy and appetizing, they aren’t a healthy snack for our felines. There are tons of Cheeto flavors. Are certain types of Cheetos worse for cats than others? Let’s explore exactly why Cheetos are a no-go for your kitties.

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Cats Shouldn’t Eat Cheetos

If your cat comes up and licks part of a Cheeto, it’s not going to hurt them. They would have to eat an entire bag before things started going south. However, it is not a nutritionally sound snack. It’s full of unnatural ingredients that can be pretty harsh on their digestive systems.

Let’s Discuss the Ingredients

Based on the original Crunchy Cheetos

Serving Size: 1 ounce (21 pieces)
  • Calories—160
  • Fat—10 g
  • Sodium—250 mg
  • Carbohydrates—13 g
  • Protein—2 g
Vitamins & Minerals
  • Thiamin—8%
  • Niacin—4%
  • Iron—2%
  • Riboflavin—4%
  • Vitamin B6—6%

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Different Types of Cheetos

  • Crunchy Cheetos
  • Cheeto Puffs
  • Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
  • Cheetos Popcorn
  • Mac n’ Cheese Cheetos
  • Fantastix
  • Simply
  • Baked

Breakdown of Ingredients

  • Enriched Corn Mealcornmeal is an ingredient often found in many commercial cat foods but it is considered a filler. It isn’t the best grain that your cat should be eating. In fact, many pet food companies are now steering away from corn, wheat, and soy as they don’t contain adequate nutritional value.
  • Oils—many oils can be beneficial to your cats, such as flaxseed oil or coconut oil. However, the oils found in Cheetos aren’t the best nutrition for your beloved pets.
  • Cheese & Dairy—up until recent years, it was perfectly acceptable to give your kitty a warm dish of milk. However, most cats are naturally lactose intolerant and shouldn’t really have dairy products at all.
  • Salt—Cheetos contains a high amount of sodium, which can be toxic to both dogs and cats. It would be best if you didn’t give your pets salty snacks.
  • Lactic Acid—this acid controls microbial growth and is actually perfectly safe for cats.
  • Citric Acid—in large quantities, citric acid can irritate a cat’s digestive system.
  • Artificial Colorsmany cat food companies steer clear of artificial flavors and colors in their products because it’s bad for your cats. Cheetos are no exception.

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Do Cats Like Cheetos?

As with anything else, cats can be pretty finicky about what they will and won’t eat. Even if you have a picky cat, it might surprise you that they’re attracted to certain food items. Cheetos might be a hit or miss.

Some cats might love the incredibly cheesy texture, while other kitties might steer clear entirely. In the end, it’s all about personal preference.

cheetos puffs

Why Cats and Dairy Don’t Mix

As we mentioned when we discussed the ingredients in Cheetos, dairy is not good for cats at all. It was a common misconception that because cats enjoy drinking milk, that it is a healthy option. But cats do not have the enzymes necessary in their body to break down lactose.

Even though dairy products aren’t necessarily toxic to cats, they can cause digestive issues like vomiting or diarrhea.

Why is Sodium Content Important?

Cats can tolerate a certain amount of sodium content. Most commercial pet foods do have an adequate amount of sodium to keep your cat’s body healthy. But an overabundance of sodium can cause dehydration and thirst, which can be not so great.

Small quantities of sodium might not hurt your cat a bit, but always be mindful of giving them appropriate amounts so there are no side effects.

Cheesy Alternatives for Cats

Instead of giving your cat Cheetos to munch on, there are treats designed explicitly for felines that might be better alternatives. You can give your kitty all of the cheesy flavors they desire that are specifically formulated for their bellies.

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Cats and Cheetos: Final Thoughts

All in all, Cheetos aren’t necessarily going to hurt your cat, but they won’t benefit them either. There are tons of alternatives that your cat might like just as much. If your cat wants to lick the Cheeto dust off of your fingers, that’s perfectly acceptable from time to time—but don’t let them make a habit of it.

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Featured Image Credit: Kelvin Wong, Shutterstock