You settle down in front of the TV, open your bag of potato chips and crunch your way through your favorite salty snack. However, your cat is sitting at your feet giving you “Puss n’ Boots” eyes and you wonder if it’s OK to give her a few chips.
The good news is that potato chips are not dangerous for your cat to eat; however, it is not recommended.
The Lowdown on Chips
As most of us already know, potato chips are considered to be an unhealthy snack. They are high in salt, which can cause a number of health issues such as high blood pressure and kidney disease. Chips are also high in saturated fats, which can have a negative impact on your health in a variety of ways, including obesity and heart disease. If you are concerned about your own health while eating chips, then you should consider your cat’s health, too, since she will be similarly affected by your snack.
Unlike cats, humans can eat an entire bag of potato chips without any immediate consequences. We also have the advantage of understanding the ramifications of eating chips regularly, but our cats rely on us to take care of them and keep them healthy.
Your Cat is a Carnivore
Cats are categorized as obligate carnivores, which means that they must have meat in their diet to survive and thrive but actually need very few carbohydrates. It’s difficult for cat stomachs to break down carbs, so feeding them food with high carbohydrates can lead to diabetes and obesity in your pet.
Beyond the protein from meat that cats need in their diet, they also require taurine (an amino acid), Vitamin A, and Vitamin D, all of which are found naturally in animal tissue.
Chips and the Cat
Vets have provided lists for cat owners that include foods that are dangerous for your pet to eat. This includes chocolate and dairy products, which might come as a surprise to many people. We continue to see cats drinking milk in movies and TV shows, but this should be avoided to prevent a sick cat.
You will not find potato chips on any veterinarian lists of harmful or toxic food, but you will also not find any veterinarians that will tell you it’s OK to feed your cat chips.
Chips Have Zero Nutritional Value
Chips are practically devoid of nutrients. The process of turning potatoes into chips involves washing, blanching (quickly boiling followed by an ice bath), and then deep-frying until golden brown and crispy. Any nutrients that are found in potatoes are lost during this preparation, which means that chips are unhealthy and have no real redeeming qualities (except for how tasty they are for us humans!).
Salt is Very Bad for Cats
Salt can make your cat very thirsty and experience excessive urination, and sometimes, sodium ion poisoning may occur. If your cat exhibits symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, fever, or coma, it could be a sign that your cat has eaten too much salt. Particularly, if you have a senior cat (which can be as early as 7 years old) as older cats experience more health issues, especially with their kidneys, and will have a harder time processing salt.
Another consideration can include the flavoring on the chips. Some chips contain ingredients that are dangerous, such as onion, garlic, and cheese.
If you can withstand your cat’s large adorable eyes, then you should avoid giving her your chips or any other human snacks. While allowing her a small number of potato chips as a treat once in a while should not impact negatively on her health, it is a habit you do not want to start.
Cats are carnivores who don’t handle high carbohydrates, and since chips are high in carbs, salt, and fat content, these are all very good reasons to avoid sharing your snacks. Always consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns regarding your cat’s health and diet.
While you might feel like Scrooge by not sharing your food with your cat, she will thank you for a long and healthy life at the end of the day.