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Can Cats Eat Cereal? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQs

Written by: Emma Stenhouse

Last Updated on June 20, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Can Cats Eat CEREAL

Can Cats Eat Cereal? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQs

VET APPROVED

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

If you can’t resist sharing the last of your cereal and milk with your cat, you might wonder if this is a good idea. Is cereal bad for cats, or can you let them eat as much as they like?

In brief, cereal isn’t a great foodstuff for cats, but it’s not toxic. So, while they won’t gain much nutritional benefit from cereal, it shouldn’t harm them either. An exception is if your cat is grain or gluten-intolerant, then cereal shouldn’t be a part of their diet in any way. Let’s learn more about whether cats can eat cereal.

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Health Benefits of Cereal

Many of us humans love to eat cereal for breakfast—or at any other time of the day! There are so many different brands that it’s always possible to find a flavor to suit you.

Cereals contain grains, a fiber source and are usually “fortified” with synthetic vitamins and minerals. While vitamins and minerals are essential for a cat’s diet to help them stay healthy, their requirements are different from ours. Fiber is useful to help a cat’s digestive system function correctly and prevent problems like diarrhea or constipation, but many cereals contain more sugar than fiber. There are better options for increasing your cat’s fiber intake.

wheat field
Image Credit: Melissa Askew, Unsplash

Do Cats Need Grains From Cereal?

Cats are obligate carnivores, so their digestive systems are designed to function on a purely meat-based diet. Some commercial cat foods do contain grains, as these are processed to provide nutrients and are carefully blended with meat-based ingredients. Your cat won’t gain any additional benefits from the grains in cereal.

Rarely, cats have sensitivities to grains, so you should avoid feeding them even a small amount of cereal, as it may cause digestive issues like bloating, pain, diarrhea, or constipation.

Is Cereal Safe for Cats?

Cereal doesn’t contain any ingredients that will harm your cat unless they’re gluten or grain-intolerant. While most cats can eat a small amount of cereal without any adverse effects, you shouldn’t feed cereal to your cat as a replacement for their regular, meat-based food.

As with any foods your cat wouldn’t normally eat, it’s always best to ask your veterinarian for advice. Just because cereal is safe and non-toxic for cats, that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to feed them.

Most cereals also contain quite a bit of sugar. Cats definitely don’t need this in their diets, and it can cause gastrointestinal issues and spikes in their blood sugar, and it will likely result in them becoming overweight if you feed it to them over an extended period.

cat licking
Image Credit: Deedee86, Pixabay

What About Feeding Cereal & Milk?

It can be tempting to think that a nice bowl of milk can be a treat for your cat, especially if it has some of your leftover cereal in it! Despite popular misconceptions, adult cats don’t actually find milk that easy to digest. It can cause digestive issues, and most veterinarians would not recommend it as a suitable drink for your cat. It’s even less suitable if it has added sugars from your cereal in it!

What if My Cat Likes Cereal?

Some cats are happy to try any sort of foodstuff at least once! If it seems like your cat is generally interested when you open your packet of cereal, they have likely learned from past experiences that you will offer them some of your food. An inquisitive cat may act interested when you’re pouring out your cereal, but it’s not that they necessarily want to eat it; they’re just curious enough to take a bite of anything that you are eating. Remember that cereal doesn’t provide any nutritional benefits for your cat.

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Conclusion

Cereal is non-toxic for cats to eat, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them! Cereal is often high in grains, processed sugars, and carbohydrates, none of which your cat needs to stay healthy. Since felines are obligate carnivores, your cat’s digestive system is designed to process a meat-based diet that’s high in protein, so that is what’s best to feed them.

Some cats might like the texture or crunch of cereal or just enjoy sampling a small taste of whatever it is you’re eating. If you’re tempted to give your cat your bowl of leftover milk with a few pieces of cereal in it, remember that adult cats have trouble digesting lactose, so they may end up with a gastrointestinal upset.

While your cat probably won’t suffer any long-term consequences from eating a few pieces of cereal, they won’t get any nutritional benefit either. When in doubt, always feed your cat the highest-quality cat food that you can, and rest assured that this will provide all the nutrition that they need to stay healthy and strong. Leaving your cereal in the bowl and pouring cat food for your kitty instead is a much better option in the long term.


Featured Image Credit: shixugang, Pixabay

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