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Can Cats Eat Sugar? Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Most people simply love sugar. We will use it in everything from cookies to bread to coffee. Maybe you’d like to share this tasty treat with your cat, but is sugar dangerous for cats to eat? And will they even appreciate its sweet taste? The answer is that in moderation, cats can eat sugar.

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Technically, Yes, Your Cat Can Eat Sugar.

As a pet owner, you are probably aware that your pets cannot ingest all of the foods that you enjoy eating. Their bodies simply cannot process the same types of foods we can, which is why particular types of human foods can make an animal very ill. Sugar, thankfully, isn’t one of those foods. So yes, your cat can eat sugar. However, many vets advise against giving your pet copious amounts of sugar because it can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Can Cats Eat Sugar
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Your house cat’s ancestors were mostly solitary hunters. Unlike wolves, which hunt in packs, cats generally kill prey that is a lot smaller than they are. This creates the need to kill several times per day and is reflected in the way most domestic cats eat small meals throughout the day. This grazing behavior allows cats to tolerate diets with high carbohydrate contents, including sugar.

While sugar isn’t poisonous to cats, you don’t have to worry about rushing her to the vet. However, sugar is still a type of junk food and you should avoid feeding it to your feline whenever possible.

Can Cats Taste Sugar?

Believe it or not, your cat wouldn’t appreciate the delicious taste of sugar anyway. Why? Because they cannot taste sweetness. This is because while your tongue can enjoy five kinds of tastes, cats lack the 247 pairs of amino acids that make up the DNA of the Tas1r2 gene, not permitting them to taste sweets. However, cats can taste bitterness.

Existing Health Conditions in Cats

Like their human companions, cats can suffer from existing health conditions such as diabetes. This, of course, would make sugar detrimental to their health if they have this issue.

While they cannot taste sugar, it may be harmful to your cat’s health if they have diabetes.

Some signs of diabetes in cats can include:

  • Excessive Thirst and Urination: Your pet could be afflicted with Type I or Type II diabetes if they are urinating a lot. This is because their kidneys are trying to remove the excess glucose from their body. Increased urination can lead to increased thirst.
  • Increased Appetite and Weight Loss: When a cat has diabetes, their cells can’t properly absorb glucose from the blood. Because of this, the starving cell will breakdown fats and proteins within the body.
  • Gait Changes: Advanced signs of diabetes include cats walking flat on the backs of their hind legs. Due to the increased blood sugar levels, the nerves of the hind legs start wearing out, and the condition can result in permanent paralysis.
  • Vomiting and Lethargy: Your cat’s health is in jeopardy if you notice these late signs of diabetes.

If you think your cat is sick, it’s important to take her to your vet right away for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

If they have diabetes, you must give your feline an insulin shot after they have eaten. This will help them from experiencing more severe symptoms, such as a damaged liver.

Can Cats Eat Sugar
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Give Them Good Sugars

Cats do need certain types of sugars to stay healthy. These include sugar from high quality, high protein cat food rather than sweets. These types of sugars are used for metabolizing and cellular energy. However, these kinds of sugars should make up less than one percent of their daily diet. If there is fructose or glucose in your cat’s urine, there is too much sugar in their diet.

Long Term Issues

Cats only need 300 calories per day or less to survive. Empty calories from sugar can add up quickly, and cause obesity and other health problems. An obese cat can additionally suffer from some cancers, Type II diabetes, and insulin resistance.

Too much sugar can create oral health problems in your cat too, increasing their risk of gingivitis, cavities, and other oral infections. Bacteria from their mouths may also enter their bloodstream and infect their kidney, heart, and liver.

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The Bottom Line

While sugar isn’t immediately dangerous for your pet, you should not feed your cat sugar. It can lead to a lot of health complications down the road. Give them as little of the sweet stuff as possible to avoid future issues.

See also:

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Featured Image Credit: Shubhankar Sharma, Unsplash, Josh Massey, Unsplash