Does your cat love sneaking the occasional French fry from your plate when you’ve finished a meal?
Perhaps you’ve seen a street cat gobbling up leftovers and wondered if it’s safe for them to do so.
Most of us with cats know that they love to explore our kitchens and sometimes even sneak onto the counter to see if what we’re preparing might just be for them!
But should we be worried if our cats take a bite of a French fry? Keep reading, and we’ll answer all your questions on the subject.
Are French Fries Poisonous for My Cat?
The answer to this question relies on whether the French fries have been cooked or not.
If you’ve got a supply of raw potatoes ready to make French fries, then these can be dangerous for your cat to eat. Raw potatoes contain alkaloids that can be toxic to cats.
These alkaloids are usually only present in the green parts of potatoes—for example, when they’ve been exposed to sunlight.
While it’s not a problem if your cat eats a few cooked French fries, they’re also not going to gain any nutritional benefit from them either.
Interesting Facts About French Fries
The exact origin of French Fries is a bit of a mystery, with Spain and Belgium staking a claim on the invention, as well as France. Whoever invented them, we’re thankful!
Thomas Jefferson first brought them to the U.S.A. after working in France.
If you really love French fries, then you can visit a whole museum dedicated to them! The Frietmuseum in Bruges, Belgium, is the place to visit on your next vacation.
What Do French Fries Contain?
While French fries from your favorite takeout or those bought frozen and ready to cook can contain up to 19 different ingredients. Those made at home can be less complicated.
Most homemade French fries can be created using potatoes, your choice of oil, and a little seasoning.
Potatoes, the main ingredient of French fries, contain carbohydrates and fiber. They also contain potassium, manganese, and vitamins C and B6.
While fiber is important in your cat’s diet, as obligate carnivores, they don’t need carbohydrates. Your cat’s digestive system is designed to work best on an all-meat diet.
If your cat is overweight, then allowing them to eat calorie-rich and carb-heavy French fries isn’t a good idea, even if it is just for the occasional treat.
While it’s true that many commercially available kibble also contains carbohydrates, it’s worth noting that your cat’s digestive system doesn’t have the enzymes to properly process these either. They’re usually just added as a filler, and you certainly don’t need to add more to your cat’s diet in the form of French fries!
Can Cats Eat Uncooked French Fries?
Cats should not eat uncooked French fries made with raw potatoes.
As mentioned, raw potatoes contain alkaloids—specifically solanine—that can be harmful to your cat. Solanine is the same chemical that’s found in deadly nightshade, and we all know to avoid eating that!
The Pet Poison Helpline and APSCA both list green potatoes as toxic to cats. If you grow your potatoes and see your cat eating the green sprouts or green skin, make sure you get them checked out by a veterinarian as a matter of emergency.
If your cat tries to eat a piece of store-bought frozen French fry before it’s cooked, then that’s not likely to be as bad. This is because these are normally pre-cooked before being packaged, and you simply need to heat them again.
If you are making homemade French fries, once the potatoes are cooked and transformed into yummy French fries, that’s a different story.
Can Cats Eat Cooked French Fries?
The good news is that once potatoes are cooked, they’re no longer toxic to cats.
Frying is one of the cooking methods that reduces the solanine content of potatoes the most, due to the high heat of the oil.
So, if your cat is going to choose to eat cooked potato, a French fry is a better choice than a potato that has been mashed or boiled.
Unfortunately (for your cat anyway), French fries are also quite likely to be covered in sauces and seasonings that might be an additional risk to your furry friend.
Most of us enjoy sauce with our fries to make them taste even better, so what about letting your cat sample these too?
In short, this isn’t a good idea.
Most sauces are quite acidic, and as a result, they can irritate your cat’s digestive system. They might even vomit up after trying a bit of sauce.
Some flavorings will also contain ingredients that can be toxic to cats. Onion powder is a good example, as is the garlic used in aioli. Both garlic and onions are listed on the Pet Poison Helpline’s website as being toxic to pets. It’s worth bearing in mind that garlic is roughly five times as strong as onions in terms of toxicity.
While a very small amount of some of these ingredients will not affect certain cats, others may be more sensitive and will display a more severe reaction.
Now You Know
We hope that you’ve found the answers to your questions by reading this article.
The occasional French fry isn’t going to do your healthy cat much harm, as long as that French fry isn’t covered in salt and sauce! But your cat also won’t get much nutritional benefit from it either.
Raw potatoes waiting to be made into French fries are another issue and shouldn’t ever be fed to your cat.
If you’re unsure, remember that while your cat might like to sniff and nibble the occasional strange piece of food, they’re always going to be much happier and healthier when fed a correct diet that’s specifically designed for cats, not humans!
Featured image credit: Milada Vigerova from Unsplash, Dzenina Lukac from Pexels