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Can Cats Eat Jell-O? 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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Cat parents are always on watch when it comes to what our kitties eat. As responsible pet owners, it is our job to ensure our pets eat nutritious meals that are intended to keep them happy and healthy. As anyone with a cat in their home knows, cats are very curious creatures. Most of the time when we’re enjoying our food, our feline pals will hop on our laps and try to investigate. Whether the food is good for them or not, they are most likely going to try and snatch a bite.

Jell-O is a sweet treat many people enjoy. With all the multiple flavors available, we humans can enjoy a different taste of Jell-O each day. Jell-O is also squishy and playful which makes it one of the many human foods cats may take interest in. The question is, can cats eat Jell-O? Is it healthy for them? In short, while it’s not toxic for cats, it’s not healthy for them either. Let’s take a deeper look at the question and explain why Jell-O isn’t the best treat to give your kitty.

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What Is in Jell-O?

Mango jello in a blue plate
Image Credit: MYCCF, Pixabay

Most of us know what Jell-O is, but do you know what’s inside? Most likely not. Like with many of the treats we enjoy, it’s common for us not to dig too deep into the ingredients. This is especially true with quick sweets like Jell-O. This dessert is simply a powder when we open it to add the boiling water, therefore we don’t consider it a bad thing. This isn’t the case. Jell-O is nothing more than gelatin and sugar. You’ll find no vitamins, minerals, or other nutritional extras inside. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the ingredients in your bowl of Jell-O.

What Is Gelatin?

Gelatin comes from animal collagen. This ingredient is tasteless and translucent. When gelatin interacts with water it takes on the bouncy, rubbery texture we associate with Jell-O. It’s this wiggling effect that may attract your cat’s attention. Luckily, however, when it comes to your kitty, gelatin isn’t an issue and isn’t bad for them.

Sugar

Jell-O has quite a bit of sugar inside, which is largely due to the fact that gelatin is flavorless. To achieve the fruity flavors we’ve all come to love, sugar must be added. The addition of sugar increases the calorie count of this treat and makes it more appetizing. Unfortunately, these empty calories aren’t great for us or our cats.

It’s also possible for Jell-O to include xylitol. This is a sweetener many companies use to help keep their products from causing tooth decay. Due to its sweet taste, this sugar alcohol is often used in sugar-free gums, and even in sugar-free Jell-O. Unfortunately, while it has been proven that xylitol is not half as dangerous for cats as it is for dogs, you should still steer clear of giving it to your cat for safety’s sake.

Artificial Colors and Dyes

As we mentioned, gelatin is translucent. To make Jell-O the pretty colors we’re all used to, artificial colors and dyes are added. In small amounts, artificial colors aren’t dangerous to our kitties. However, considering large amounts of artificial colors and dyes aren’t great for our kitties, it’s best to avoid giving them foods or treats with high levels included.

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Cats and Sweets

hungry white cat hepper nom nom bowl licking lip

Cats are obligate carnivores. This means the nutrition they need is derived mostly from meat. When it comes to sweets, fruits, and even vegetables cats don’t need these additions and some can actually be dangerous to them.

You may wonder why it’s not recommended to give cats a lot of sweet treats? This is due to them having no sweet receptors. Considering they live primarily on meat, there was no reason for kitties to develop the ability to taste sweetness. When it comes to the sweets you treat yourself to, especially Jell-O, your cat doesn’t beg for them due to their want of something sweet and savory. In most cases, there is something about the texture that is alluring to your cat and makes them interested. If you’re unsure of what can be dangerous for your cat, it is best to avoid giving them any sweets, fruity or otherwise.

Will Jell-O Kill My Cat?

Fortunately, if your cat happens to pounce quick enough to snatch a taste of your Jell-O, it won’t hurt them. Even Jell-O featuring xylitol would require more than a quick taste to make your cat severely ill. The most important thing to remember when it comes to cats and their ability to steal bites of food is to always be aware of what they’ve ingested. Nuts, sweeteners, and certain fruits can be included in certain Jell-O desserts making them even worse for your kitty to eat. If your cat has eaten a fair amount of Jell-O and exhibits signs of distress or upset stomach, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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In Conclusion

As you can see, Jell-O isn’t the best treat to give your kitty. While it may not be overly dangerous, taking a chance with your cat’s health is never recommended. If you want to give your cat a yummy treat, stick to the meat their diet requires instead of empty calories and sugary desserts.

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Featured Image Credit: nicoletait, Pixabay

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