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Can Cats Eat Cheerios? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & Advice

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Can Cats Eat Cheerios? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & Advice


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

Honey Nut Cheerios has long been one of America’s favorite cereal brands. They are tasty and sweet without being overpowering. Their tiny little O’s also make them easy to give as treats to your cat or dog.

However, is it a good idea to give your cat a Cheerio for a snack? The short answer is no, it’s not. Cheerios are not a toxic food for felines. However, none of their ingredients are beneficial for your cat.

Eating too many Cheerios over a prolonged period can end up causing health risks and put your cat’s life in danger. That is only likely to happen if they eat many of them for weeks at a time, but it is still good to keep in mind when you want to find easy treats for your cat to enjoy.

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Can Cats Eat Cheerios?

Cats can eat a Cheerio or two without feeling any adverse effects unless they have a sensitivity to gluten or sugar. That doesn’t mean that Cheerios make good snacks for a cat, though. It is best to find something else to give them as treats.

There are healthier options that you can give your cat over the long term without them experiencing adverse side effects.

Cheerios are not good options for your cat to eat even as treats because of the ingredients used to make them. These include sugar, corn starch, and brown sugar syrup, all of which are harmful over the long term for your cat.

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Image Credit: Milles Studio, Shutterstock

The Danger of Sugar for Your Cat

Cheerios get part of their sweet taste from the honey used in the recipe. However, only a bit of honey gets used, and the rest of the sweetener comes from added sugars or sugar replacements.

The truth is that cats’ systems are not meant to consume many carbohydrates. In the wild, they do not naturally eat anything with sugar in it, so they have not adapted to be able to include sugar in their diets. If your cat eats sugar or something with too much sugar in it, it can often lead to mild to severe gastrointestinal upset. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and discomfort. If you keep feeding high-carbohydrate diets to your cat, this will likely result in weight gain, which is likely to manifest in diabetes.

The Danger of Grains for Cats

Grains are not as harmful to cats as sugars can be. Instead, these are more neutral participants in a cat’s diet. Processed grains in cat food can be used as a source of protein and even provide fiber. However, their benefit is still minimal because these are not complete proteins for a cat. They lack many of the essential amino acids that felines need to obtain from their diet.

There are certain situations where grains can be useful in a cat’s diet, such as with cats that have kidney disease. They need to ingest fewer proteins and have a low-phosphorus diet. However, in this case, the grain will be rice, not Cheerios.

Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Other Dangers to Consider

Chocolate Cheerios are definitive no-no’s for your cat. They contain cocoa, which is toxic for cats, and consuming it can put their lives at risk. Cocoa and chocolate contain a substance called theobromine, which cats and other pets cannot metabolize. Chocolate can also contain a small amount of caffeine, which is harmful to cats. Never share chocolates or chocolate-flavored cereals with your beloved cat.

Cats’ Natural Diets

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need good protein sources that they can easily get from animals to survive. In the wild, they eat the animals that they hunt as prey.

While it is no longer recommended to feed your domesticated cat the raw diet that they might have eaten in the wild, you should try to find food that is as species-appropriate as possible. Cats naturally consume small amounts of plants within their prey’s digestive system, but otherwise, their need for fruits and vegetables is minimal.

It is for this reason that Cheerios are not a good option for your cat. They do not include anything that is more beneficial to them than harmful.

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Healthier Alternatives to Cheerios for Your Cat

If you want a snack that you can give your cat that is easy but still healthy, there are plenty of options. Mimic their natural diet by giving them fish or meat cut into tiny chunks without bones.

You can also give them cheese. Just be aware that many cats are lactose intolerant or sensitive and may get an upset stomach after consuming dairy, so you should choose only low-lactose cheese varieties.

There are plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables for them too, even if these don’t mimic their natural diet. You can give them spinach, carrots, berries, melons, or pieces of broccoli. Which ones will ultimately be up to your cat’s preferences, since not all cats will be interested in fruits and vegetables.

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Although Cheerios aren’t toxic to cats, they shouldn’t eat Cheerios, especially regularly or in large amounts due to the sugar and other components that aren’t a part of your cat’s natural diet. So if your cat eats a Cheerio or two that they find lying around, it shouldn’t hurt them. However, if you want to feed Cheerios to your cat as a treat, it is best to stick to treats made especially for cats or even foods such as cat-safe fruits and vegetables that are healthier than Cheerios.

Featured Image Credit: ponce_photography, Pixabay

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