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Can Cats Eat Skittles? Nutritional Facts & Risks

Like humans, cats love the occasional treat. While we might reach for gummy bears or Skittles when our sweet tooth acts up, the same cannot be said for our feline companions. Not only do cats not crave sweets as we do, but their digestive systems aren’t equipped for digesting them, either.

So, should you offer your kitty a Skittle or two during your next movie night? The answer is no, cats should not eat Skittles. Keep reading to learn why you shouldn’t give your cats a taste of the rainbow and what you can give them instead.

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Do Cats Like Candy?

A cat’s senses do not act the same as ours do. Their taste buds have evolved to a point where they’re attracted to the foods they need to survive. Most mammals are attracted to simple sugars and their sweet profile as they need them to survive. Cats, however, lack the receptors necessary to taste the sweetness, so they are not attracted to candy and other sugary things.

Since they cannot taste sweet things, most won’t try to sneak sugary snacks simply because of their sweetness. Some cats, however, do act interested in certain candies because of the fats present in them and not because of how yummy they are. Simply said, your cat might be interested in your Skittles because of their fat content and not because of their fruity taste.

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Image Credit: Shalous_Photography, Pixabay

What Happens if My Cat Eats Sugar?

Sugar isn’t toxic for your cats, but it’s not good for their digestive systems. It isn’t harmful if it’s consumed in a small amount, but higher amounts of sugar in their diet can cause some unfortunate side effects for your kitty.

You might notice digestive upset like vomiting or diarrhea if your kitty has gotten into your sweets stash. The severity of these symptoms will depend on how much your cat has eaten and how sensitive they are.

As with humans, a cat with too much sugar in its diet may gain weight, develop diabetes, and experience tooth decay.

Do Skittles Contain Toxic Ingredients?

While sugar itself isn’t toxic to cats, there are some ingredients in certain sweets and candy that can be very toxic.

Artificial sweeteners like Xylitol are very dangerous for both cats and dogs. The sweetener can cause an upset stomach, liver damage, dangerous drops in blood sugar, and even seizures or death.

Chocolate is another very toxic ingredient for pets. The darker the chocolate is, the more toxic.

Skittles do not contain artificial sweeteners or chocolate. It does contain sugar, corn syrup, and hydrogenated palm kernel oil, though, all very unhealthy ingredients for humans, let alone for a cat’s sensitive digestive system.

Skittles manufacturers use several food dyes to get the coloring for the candies. Some cats have food intolerances to certain dyes, including Red 40, which is used in the manufacturing process for Skittles. If your cat has this intolerance and eats Skittles you may notice symptoms like:

  • Itching
  • Skin redness
  • Hives
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess gas
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Anorexia
Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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What’s a Better Treat Than Candy for Cats?

When we want to treat ourselves, we reach for candy or ice cream. Just because we can’t (or, shouldn’t) give the same type of treats to our cats doesn’t mean we can’t provide them with something tasty for special occasions. Put away the candy and the chocolate and give them a nibble of something savory.

Small pieces of cooked chicken or turkey without any spices or sauces are a savory and tasty treat that’s sure to appease your kitty’s taste buds. Don’t offer them too much as their sensitive digestive systems may not be used to meat outside of their usual cat food.

Catnip and cat grass are great low-calorie treats. You can grow both yourself in a sunny window and find both fresh and dried greens at most pet stores. Offer cat grass in small amounts at first as some cats will regurgitate it. If you find that’s the case with your pet, stick with the catnip.

Commercial cat treats are another great go-to option. Choose an option that’s both healthy and tasty to both indulge him and give him a boost of nutrients.

How Can I Keep My Pet Safe from My Human Treats?

While your cat is unlikely to become severely ill from eating one or two Skittles, you shouldn’t leave them (or any food your cat shouldn’t get into) anywhere they might find them. A bowl of Skittles on the kitchen counter can easily be reached by your kitty.

Here are some tips to consider when considering how to keep your cat out of your treats.

The first (and easiest) method is to keep treats out of reach. Your snacks should be secured in cupboards so curious kitties can’t get into them. A bag of goodies on the counter is no match for a determined cat as they can use their claws to rip into it. If you don’t want to store your sweets in the cupboard, consider a lockable and tightly sealed container.

Next, ensure your garbage can is not easily accessible. Avoid using open trash cans and instead choose ones with a lid that can be tightly secured. Cats aren’t afraid to go dumpster diving if they smell something yummy in the garbage. A cat-proof trash can will keep your kitty out of trouble and prevent big messes.

Teach your children about your pets and why they can’t have certain types of human foods. If your child wants to offer your kitty a treat here and then, go over the healthy (and safe) treat options they can give your pets.

cat walks on the kitchen table
Image Credit: EkaterinaSid, Shutterstock

What Do I Do If My Cat Ate Skittles?

We always recommend erring on the side of caution. If you know that your cat has gotten into your treat stash, give your vet a call and see what they suggest. He might recommend keeping an eye on your pet to see if they start showing any concerning symptoms, or he may suggest you bring your cat in for an examination.

You should be prepared to provide information like how much your cat ate and what, if any, symptoms they’re currently showing.

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Final Word

While a Skittle or two won’t cause serious harm to most cats, it’s still best to keep these yummy treats for yourself. Ingesting candy like Skittles can cause digestive upset to your cat and it’s best to avoid that at all costs. If you find your cat begging for a treat from your plate, offer them a piece of chicken or some tuna instead. Not only will they find those foods tastier, but meaty treats are better for them, too.

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Featured Image Credit: 2092512, Pixabay