Last updated on December 12th, 2021
We know how you crave those jerky beef meals and can relish them with the utmost satisfaction! I am sure you may have at least been inclined to feed some of that homemade beef jerky to your happy kitty, but can they eat this meaty snack?
Cats can eat beef jerky but only once or twice a week because the high levels of protein and salt content in this jerky treat can cause problems with your cat’s kidneys. High salt diets can increase your feline’s body fat, while the sugar in the meat can also lead to weight gain.
Table of Contents
- Is it Safe to Feed Beef Jerky to Your Cat?
- What Happens If My Cat Feeds on Beef Jerky?
- What is a Healthy Alternative to Beef Jerky?
Is it Safe to Feed Beef Jerky to Your Cat?
Beef jerky is a convenient and popular snack made from dried and seasoned meat. The dish is prepared with lean cuts of beef, which is further marinated and flavored with a handful of ingredients such as salts, spices, sauces, along with additional preservatives.
The term jerky refers to lean trimmed meats, usually cut into strips then dried or seasoned with salt to prevent decomposition or spoilage.
The salt is added to preserve the meat for an extended period, thus increasing its shelf life and retaining its taste.
Yes, beef jerky is considered a nutritious snack for us (if consumed in moderation), but not for our feline pets. Let’s find out why.
Beware of Sodium Poisoning
Did you know that beef jerky can lead to sodium poisoning or salt toxicity in cats? Sodium poisoning, as the name suggests, happens when your cat intakes too much sodium.
Due to salt poisoning, cats and dogs may suffer from serious health conditions like:
- Excessive salivation
- Inappetence (lack of appetite)
- Abnormal twitching
- Breathing difficulties
- Incoordination and loss of balance
- Abnormal fluid accumulation
- Potential injury to the kidneys
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Swelling or inflammation of the skin
- Tremors and seizures
- Depression and anxiety
- Collapse or shock
But how can beef jerky result in sodium poisoning in felines? Well, the answer is simple. The dish contains high amounts of sodium that makes the recipe more “jerky”!
Besides salt, modern-day versions of beef jerky cuisines are prepared with Worcestershire sauce or Soy sauce, both of which are rich sources of sodium.
Are the Seasonings Safe? Not Really!
Apart from sodium, there are additional ingredients that are unsafe for cats. For instance, the extra seasonings and chemical preservatives that the dish consists of may cause severe problems in feline creatures.
We can hardly find plain beef jerky these days, unless, of course, if you make one, especially for your kitten.
Otherwise, we would mostly get this snack with several junk toppings and flavorings, including jalapeno, peppered, or teriyaki sauce. It may sound delicious to you, but it’s unhealthy for your feline pet.
Say No to Garlic! Well, for Your Cat!
Another major cause of health problems in cats is the garlic that is present in large amounts in beef jerky.
Extra seasonings in this dish mean the presence of garlic for sure. Now, you may wonder how garlic, which is considered to have medicinal value for humans, can be unsafe for cats!
The fact is garlic can be toxic to cats and may even become fatal if given in excess. The phenomenon is more commonly known as garlic toxicity.
If ingested, garlic may cause serious health conditions including Heinz body anemia, hemolytic anemia, and methemoglobinemia. These health issues may further damage the red blood cells of a cat.
However, like garlic, which belongs to the Allium family, other members of the same family, such as onions, leeks, and chives are equally toxic to felines.
However, garlic is considered 5 times more toxic to both cats and dogs than onions.
Even if it is a single clove of garlic that your cat has ingested, it may lead to poisoning in most cases, let alone eating garlic in large amounts!
Keep Silica Gel Packets Away!
No, don’t get me wrong! I am not saying silica gels are edible. These are just substances that act as desiccants to absorb the moisture from the surrounding air. The packet itself says in bold, “DO NOT EAT”.
You would find these silica gel packets in almost every household appliance or other object you purchase, including food storage.
Similarly, you will find silica gel packets in beef jerky snacks because it’s used to maintain the freshness and quality of this food.
Uncooked and raw beef jerky tends to lose its taste and freshness with time due to constant exposure to moisture in the environment.
The unfortunate part is that your healthy kitty won’t always understand that these little bags of silica gels, which are packed with food items, are inedible.
And not just inedible, these are dangerous if your kitten accidentally eats them. Therefore, ensure that you keep silica gel packets out of reach of your playful and mischievous feline member.
Cats Can Be Allergic to Beef
And when everything else in a beef jerky recipe was causing an issue, here comes the major ingredient – beef!
Beef is considered an allergen for cats. Yes, like human beings, cats can have allergies too!
However, some cats may do well with beef without showing any signs of allergies, however, that’s rather rare.
If you want to make sure without harming your pet, you can try giving a small quantity of beef first. If you notice symptoms like skin irritation and redness, excessive itching, or hair loss, stop feeding your cat beef!
We would recommend you consult your vet before feeding your cat anything out of the box.
What Happens If My Cat Feeds on Beef Jerky?
If your feline friend feeds on beef jerky, the risks of harmful side effects and health hazards increase.
However, it depends on the quantity of the dish that was fed to them as well as your kitty’s immune strength.
Your feline furball will likely be alright with little to no side effects if you feed a small sampling of the snack.
But we would still strongly advise against feeding beef jerky to your cat because of the high sodium content, which may cause dehydration, permanent kidney damage, and upset the little fellow’s digestive system.
Have you noticed how thirsty your cat had become the last time you fed them beef jerky?
However, if you feed a tiny piece of your beef jerky, it may not cause serious havoc.
You may even find your little kitten rush into the kitchen every time you open a bag of beef jerky, with a pitiful look while the paw extends towards you.
Even though it is a sorry sight to see, it’s far less dangerous and pitiful than seeing your lovely pet ill after being fed this “jerky” snack item.
What is a Healthy Alternative to Beef Jerky?
If you wish to replace beef with a healthier meat option, you can choose small pieces of cooked chicken, turkey, and other deli meats.
Cooked beef in small amounts is also okay for many felines. Some cats can even eat dried beef and other meats, but too many dry food items are not healthy for them.
However, it’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian or pet nutritionist first, who will suggest the most appropriate diet chart for your pet.
A good alternative to dried or cooked meats would be fish, something that your feline furball would die for!
Both cooked and canned fish fed in moderation are good choices for your cat.
In short, letting your cat devour meat meals is not a bad thing, as long you ensure that the meat is properly cooked, is not served raw, and is fed to them as an occasional snack.
You should also ensure that the meat isn’t spoiled or rotten, as your cat would not only hate the taste, but it’s also bad for their health!