Beef jerky is essentially dehydrated meat cut into strips. The interesting shape and flavorful taste are enough to make humans drool. This dried, salted meat is a great snack choice for people because of its convenience. But what about our furry friends? Can cats eat beef jerky?
This trimmed meat is smoked with low heat and since it needs just some salt and smoking to prepare, some people make homemade jerky.
If not homemade, this product can be bought in almost every store. Thanks to so many added preservatives, beef jerky is one of those products that have a really long shelf-life. To avoid spoilage, this trimmed meat is packed with many additional artificials.
The name can be quite deceiving and you may think just because it’s meat, that it’s good for your pet. However, this isn’t the case. Cats can technically eat beef jerky, but it isn’t the healthiest choice.
Is beef jerky safe for cats?
Beef jerky is one of those products that are made quickly and for the wide public. Humans might not think too much of their health when it comes to consuming beef jerky. But this snack is actually not healthy for humans, let alone cats.
Eating beef jerky in small portions isn’t likely to cause immediate harm to your feline. However, regular intake of this meat isn’t recommended for cats.
Felines are carnivorous, so we can see why you’re thinking it’s safe for them. But due to all the added flavors and spices, beef jerky isn’t the safest thing to put on your cat’s menu.
Beef jerky is highly processed meat and, as a result, cats don’t benefit much from it. Plain, cooked meat is the best choice for felines as they are obligate carnivores.
This means that meat is a necessity for cats – they survive and thrive on animal protein. Other nutrients are welcome, but protein is a need. Without protein, cats can’t develop and will fall ill quickly.
Can cats benefit from eating beef jerky?
Although this meaty snack isn’t the best choice for your feline, it contains some nutrients that can benefit your floof. One of the obvious ones is protein, which is much needed for felines. Cats require meat on a daily basis.
This means that protein is the most important nutrient for their body. Your cat can’t develop without protein and will probably become sick if her protein intake is insufficient. Animal-derived protein is the type of protein that benefits your pet.
Other proteins derived from plant materials can serve your cat’s health, but won’t be of much use as those from animals. Cats’ digestive systems aren’t made for breaking down plant material, so they have a hard time collecting all the nutrients contained therein.
Unfortunately, beef jerky is highly processed and a lot of the nutritional value is lost during this process. Although there is some percentage of protein in beef jerky, cats can eat it only as a treat.
Drawbacks of cats eating beef jerky
Apart from the high sodium content, beef jerky is full of unnecessary nutrients. Carbohydrates and fat are some of the downsides when it comes to feeding your cat beef jerky.
Felines don’t require carbs in their diet and therefore, they are unnecessary. Furthermore, excess carbs can cause obesity in cats, which can reflect badly on their health. Joint problems can occur as a result of your cat being overweight.
Beef jerky is high in fat and while cats can eat small amounts, it isn’t the healthiest choice. Cats need fat as a source of energy, but saturated fats aren’t recommended. High fat content can lead to obesity and elevated cholesterol levels.
Beef jerky is also considered calorie-dense. While cats need certain amounts of calories per day, beef jerky is abundant in calories. This can be detrimental to your pet’s health and, again, can cause obesity. High cholesterol levels in your cat’s blood is known as hyperlipidemia.
What is beef jerky made of?
As the name says itself, this jerky is made from beef. There are other types of jerkies made from poultry or pork. Cats can eat beef because it’s high in protein. Cooked beef without additional spices is the best option.
However, the meat in beef jerky is not the same as it’s high in sodium and other preservatives. Your cat can benefit from some fresh, cooked meat. You should always stay away from feeding your pet raw meat as it can carry certain diseases.
Apart from losing some of its nutritional value, beef jerky is also hard to chew on. Cats may have a hard time biting down on it because of its texture. You have to keep in mind the fact that beef jerky is just smoked meat, and it may be a choking hazard too.
This is where it gets tricky for cats. High amounts of salt aren’t safe for humans either. Imagine what it could do to your pet. Sodium toxicity can occur in cats if any excess amount of salt is ingested.
This is another reason beef jerky isn’t safe for cats to eat. Salt is added in large quantities to prevent bacteria growth until the meat is fully dried. Next to smoking, another traditional process is called salting.
This means that meat is salted for the reason of adding more flavor to it. It’s also salted so it can be stashed at home without it getting spoiled quickly. Homemade beef jerky can certainly contain less salt than the bought-ones.
Salt poisoning in cats can be recognized by the associated medical symptoms, the most common of which include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and dizziness. Excess salt intake can also cause dehydration in cats and even kidney failure.
Preservatives in beef jerky
The majority of the preservatives used in bought foods are safe for humans. But the same can’t be said for cats. Most of these preservatives are used to keep the freshness and nutritional value of the food.
Not all preservatives are bad, though. Natural preservatives aren’t harmful to cats, but unfortunately, there aren’t many in beef jerky. Chemical preservatives are used in the process of making beef jerky because they improve the freshness and shelf-life of the product.
Chemical preservatives are cheaper than natural ones, therefore they are the more common choice. Small consumption of these preservatives is not the end of the world, but regular intake can be dangerous.
Over and above preservatives and sodium, beef jerky is packed with spices. In addition to salt, this meat often contains garlic and onion powder. These are a great threat to your cat’s health. Foods from the Allium family are highly toxic to felines.
More specifically, garlic is roughly five times more poisonous to cats than onions. Both garlic and onions contain chemicals that can damage your cat’s red blood cells. This can result in certain medical conditions such as anemia.
Garlic and onion can be found in beef jerky in powdered forms. No matter in which form, garlic and onions are highly poisonous to felines. Some of the symptoms of poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and tremors.
Next to garlic and onions, beef jerky also regularly contains hot peppers. This is a reason for alarm because cats can’t digest spicy foods. The compound found in spicy foods is called capsaicin. This compound can give your cat gastrointestinal upset.
Sugar in beef jerky
It may sound silly, but sugar is often used in the process of making beef jerky. For example, teriyaki jerky contains certain amounts of sugar to add the sweet flavor.
And if you think this is what attracts your feline to beef jerky, you’re wrong. Cats are incapable of tasting sweetness as they lack the taste buds that would allow them to determine the taste. Therefore, this isn’t why your cat’s attracted to this stripped meat.
Cats not having a sweet tooth is good news. This is because sugar is bad for felines. In the long run, it can cause dental problems such as tooth decay. Other chronic diseases can occur as a result of excess sugar, like feline diabetes.
Safe alternatives to beef jerky
Now that you know the answer to the question, “Can cats eat beef jerky?”, it’s obvious that your feline should stay away from it. Rather opt for some healthier choices for your pet.
Cats won’t benefit from this cured meat, In fact, it can actually cause them more harm.
Try to replace beef jerky with some dried fish. Dried fish is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oils are also a great way of fulfilling your cat’s nutritional needs. If your cat isn’t keen on eating fish, there are plenty of homemade cat treat recipes!
Remember, no additional seasonings your cat can’t tolerate!
Your cat eating beef jerky can result in some bad outcomes. Felines can’t tolerate the high amounts of sodium contained in this trimmed meat. Apart from being high in salt, beef jerky is full of preservatives and extra spices.
Chemical preservatives are bad for cats but they are cheaper than natural ones. They’re common in foods that have long durability. The freshness of the product and the flavor are preserved because of these compounds.
In sufficient quantities, beef jerky can be harmful to cats because of garlic and onion powders, as well as hot peppers. These are toxic to felines and can cause damage to their red blood cells. The end result could be anemia and organ damage – even death.
Make sure your cat’s tongue stays away from this rubbery meat as she can easily choke on it too. Go for some safe alternatives to beef jerky, such as anchovies or dried fish.
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