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Can Cats Eat Gum? Is It Healthy for Them?

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	Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet) Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Chewing gum comes in all types of flavors and the scent can perk any cat’s curiosity, especially if it’s wrapped in shiny foil. So, it’s pretty easy for cats to accidentally take a bite or get it stuck on their face and paws.

Many types of gum are sweetened with xylitol. Unfortunately, xylitol is not safe for cats, and it takes just a little amount for cats to start feeling sick. So, it’s always best to stash gum in a spot that your cat can’t get into.

However, accidents do occur, even to the most vigilant cat owners, so if your cat does happen to swallow some gum, here’s what you can do to help it feel better.

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How Toxic is Gum to Cats?

Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in some fruits, mushrooms, and trees. It’s a sugar alcohol that’s completely safe for humans but toxic for dogs and not a safe choice for cats. Along with being in gum, it’s commonly found in mouthwashes, toothpaste, breath fresheners, candy, and mints.

It only takes a little amount of xylitol for pets to experience poisoning. As a general rule of thumb, 110 of a gram of xylitol per kilogram of body weight can cause hypoglycemia. So, it would take about ½ a gram of xylitol to poison a 10-pound dog.

Most gum contains between ⅕–½ grams of xylitol per piece of gum. While cats aren’t known to have reactions as severe as dogs, it’s certainly not worth the risk of potentially causing an onset of hypoglycemia in your pet.

gum spilled out of bottle
Image Credit: Tabeajaichhalt, Pixabay

 

Symptoms of Xylitol Poisoning in Cats

Cats can start to experience xylitol poisoning within 30 minutes of consumption. Along with hypoglycemia, they can start to feel other symptoms:

  • Ataxia
  • Collapse
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Treatment of Xylitol Poisoning

If you suspect that your cat ate a piece of gum, call your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital right away. Time is of the essence, and it’s vital to get treated as soon as possible to prevent fatal outcomes.

A veterinarian will most likely induce vomiting to remove as much xylitol from your cat’s stomach. Your cat may also receive IV fluids containing dextrose to combat hypoglycemia.

If your cat receives treatment quickly, it’ll most likely recover fully. Some severe cases can cause liver damage, which requires further treatment and recovery.

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How to Protect Your Cat From Gum

Since one stick of gum can lead to serious consequences, it’s important to protect your cat from gum and other household products containing xylitol. There are several tactics that you can use to keep your cat from harm’s way.

gums on the table
Image Credit: kalhh, Pixabay

Buy Xylitol-Free Gum

Not all gum contains xylitol. Many natural gum products are xylitol-free and are not completely safe for cats to consume, but carry much less risk.

Hide the Gum

You can also hide your gum in a space your cat can’t reach easily. Sometimes, out of sight, out of mind suffices. However, some cats may be determined or just curious. If that’s the case, place the gum in a drawer that’s difficult to open. If you have a particularly clever cat that’s good at opening cabinets, you can try installing a pet-proof lock.

If you have a vehicle, you can also hide the gum in your car, so it’s still easy for you to access while being completely out of reach for your cat.

Substitute Gum With a Toy

If you think your cat likes gum because of its shiny packaging, try redirecting its attention to a shiny toy. You can also sprinkle catnip or spray the toy with catnip spray to make it more enticing.

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How to Clean Gum Out of Your Cat’s Fur

If gum gets stuck on your cat’s fur, it’s best to remove it right away in case your cat tries to lick it off. Sometimes, you can salvage its fur before having to cut it off.

First, try rubbing an ice cube on the gum. Frozen gum loses its stickiness and can come off the fur more easily. If the ice cube doesn’t work, try massaging oil that’s safe for cats into the gum. Different kinds of oil you can use are mineral oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil.

The oil will break down the gum and cause it to dissolve. Remove the chunk of gum and lather pet shampoo on the oily area and rinse with water.

If oil doesn’t work, you’ll have to resort to trimming your cat’s fur. You can try contacting your local pet groomer to see if they can squeeze in a last-minute appointment for a quick trim.

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Final Thoughts on Gum and Cats

Gum can be dangerous for cats if they contain xylitol, but in general, it’s best to keep your cat away from chewing gum. Even if it’s xylitol-free, your cat can quickly become a sticky mess if it plays with gum. Gum can also be a choking hazard. Therefore, make sure to keep your gum in a secure and unreachable place to avoid unsafe and messy situations.

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Featured Image Credit: davidgaigg, Pixabay

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