Beef jerky contains several ingredients that are unsafe for cats to consume. While cats are carnivores and do love meat, beef jerky for human consumption should not be given to your feline friends.
If your cat consumes a small amount of beef jerky, they should be perfectly fine. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian for the best course of action.
Top Reasons to Skip Beef Jerky as a Cat Treat
1. Tough, Dry Texture Is a Choking Hazard
The process of dehydration transforms raw meat into beef jerky. This process makes jerky shelf-stable, but it also makes it tough.
Cats have smaller, sharper teeth that are made to tear apart fresh meat. The tough, dried meat of beef jerky can pose a choking hazard to your cat.
2. High Salt Content Can Dehydrate Your Cat
Beef jerky relies on sodium as a natural preservative and flavor enhancer. The salt content prevents bacterial growth and increases the natural meat flavor.
Salt comes in many forms in beef jerky including sea salt, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. The amount of salt in beef jerky is perfectly safe for human consumption, but can be too much for a cat.
Adding too much salt to the diet of a cat can cause a range of issues including excessive thirst, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, or worse, when consumed at extreme levels, sodium can become toxic for a cat.
Over an extended period of time, the consumption of excessive sodium can lead to hypertension and heart problems in cats.
A small piece in small quantities here and there won’t cause long-term problems, but sustained consumption of beef jerky is not good for cats.
3. Sugar Can Cause Unhealthy Weight Gain
Most jerky brands add sugar to the marinade. While sugar is not toxic to your cat, it can contribute to unhealthy weight gain.
In worse case scenarios, high levels of sugar consumption for cats can also lead to diabetes.
4. Additional Seasonings Can Be Toxic
Most jerky contains additional spices and seasonings beyond salt and sugar. Several of these ingredients can be toxic for cats at high levels.
Two of the most common seasonings added to beef jerky are onion powder and garlic powder. Both of these vegetables come from the allium family which are toxic to cats.
Additionally, seasonings made with peppers that contain capsaicin such as cayenne pepper, chili peppers, and jalapeños can upset the stomach of your cat. If the jerky’s seasoning is strong enough, or if the cat consumes enough of it, it may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea.
What if My Cat Eats Beef Jerky?
In most instances, your cat should be perfectly fine if they consume small amounts of beef jerky.
Cats that accidentally eat beef jerky can suffer from digestive issues including vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.
When in doubt, contact your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.
Best Treat Alternatives to Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is not an ideal treat for your cat. Avoid feeding your cat beef jerky when possible.
Instead, we recommend feeding your furry friend a cat beef jerky treat that has been crafted specifically for them. These treats are made with minimal sodium, no additives, and no preservatives that are harmful for cats.
They are made specifically to fit a cat’s natural diet, optimized for the cat’s teeth, the cat’s diet, the cat’s health, and the cat’s stomach.
Additional, cat jerky treats are made in a softer texture that is natural and soft, making it easier to chew for your cat. This reduces the risk of choking.
Make sure to purchase your cat beef jerky treats from producers in the USA who focus on quality.
Your furry friend is worth it.