After a long day, you look forward to relaxing with your favorite treat—soft, pillowy marshmallows. As you take the first bite, the sweetness melts on your tongue, transporting you to sugary bliss. You may want to give your cat a piece of the excitement. Did you know that over 90% of cat owners have offered human food like marshmallows to their feline friends at some point?
While marshmallows may seem like a harmless treat, they can actually be quite dangerous for cats. Keep reading to learn the truth about cats and marshmallows.
The Nutritional Composition of Marshmallows
Marshmallows are essentially sugar and air.
Here is the basic nutritional breakdown of a typical marshmallow:
- Calories: 28 calories per marshmallow
- Carbohydrates: 7 grams per marshmallow, almost entirely from sugar
- Fat: 0 grams
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
So, as you can see, marshmallows provide absolutely no nutritional value. They are basically pure sugar, which can be detrimental to cats’ health.
Why Marshmallows Are Bad For Cats
There are a few reasons why cats should not eat marshmallows:
The high sugar content is the main reason marshmallows are unhealthy.
Cats simply do not need refined sugar in their diet. Consuming too much can lead to:
- Obesity: The calories in sugary treats quickly add up, causing weight gain. Obesity is connected to many diseases, like diabetes and arthritis in cats.
- Diabetes: Eating too much sugar spikes blood sugar levels. Over time, this strains the pancreas and can cause diabetes. Diabetes is increasingly common in cats and requires lifelong insulin injections and medical monitoring.
- Dental disease: Sugar feeds the bacteria in the mouth, leading to more plaque buildup and dental problems like tooth decay and gingivitis.
The soft, spongy texture of marshmallows makes them a choking hazard for cats.
Marshmallows can easily get stuck in the throat or block the airway, especially in younger cats or cats with dental disease. Choking is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary treatment.
Lack of Nutrition
Marshmallows provide zero balanced nutrition for cats.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need a meat-based diet. Marshmallows are the opposite of what cats need to thrive.
Feeding marshmallows instead of a nutritionally complete cat food can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies over time.
Healthy Treat Alternatives for Cats
While marshmallows should be avoided, there are many healthier treat options for cats. Here are some great alternatives:
- Meat baby food: Look for brands with meat as the only ingredient. Turkey, chicken, beef, and salmon are common flavors.
- Cooked lean meat: Cubes of cooked chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or fish make great high-protein treats.
- Freeze-dried meat: Many brands sell pure meat treats made with a freeze-drying process to remove moisture. This makes them shelf-stable and crispy.
- Cooked egg yolks: Cooked eggs are a good source of protein. However, avoid raw eggs due to the risk of salmonella.
- Low-sodium deli meat: Opt for unseasoned deli turkey or chicken breast. Rinse off excess salt before feeding.
- Catnip: Most cats go crazy for catnip! It’s non-caloric and completely safe. Buy dried catnip or catnip-stuffed toys.
- Hairball treats: Look for treats made with ingredients like plant fibers, Vaseline, and omega fatty acids to help prevent hairballs.
Always feed treats in moderation, accounting for 10% or less of your cat’s daily caloric intake. And consult your vet if you have any questions about appropriate treatment options.
Can Cats Have Marshmallows In Any Quantity?
Can cats eat marshmallows? No, cats should not eat any marshmallows at all. There is no safe quantity.
Even tiny amounts of marshmallows can negatively impact your cat’s health over time by:
- Contributing unnecessary sugar and calories
- Promoting weight gain
- Worsening diabetes
- Causing nutritional imbalances
It’s best to avoid marshmallows and feed only approved cat treats instead. Your cat’s long-term health is too important to risk.
Signs Of Sugar Toxicity To Watch Out For
In very rare cases, cats may develop sugar toxicity from eating too many sweets. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Increased thirst and urination
If you suspect sugar toxicity or that your cat ate a large quantity of marshmallows, call your vet or an emergency vet clinic right away. Left untreated, sugar toxicity can be fatal. So immediate veterinary treatment is critical.
Better Ways To Bond With Your Cat
Sharing treats seems like an easy way to bond with your cat. But since marshmallows and other sweets are dangerous, focus on healthier bonding activities instead. Here are a few ideas:
- Play with interactive cat toys each day
- Clicker train your cat using high-value treats like real meat
- Brush your cat daily if they enjoy grooming
- Offer new cardboard boxes and tunnels to play in
- Let your cat perch near a sunny window to watch birds and squirrels outside
- Create a snuggly spot just for your cat to nap in
Cats thrive on routine and positive interactions with you. So spending quality playtime together is the best way to strengthen your bond.
The Bottom Line
While marshmallows may look like a tasty treat to share with your cat, it’s best to resist the temptation.
Marshmallows offer no nutritional value and can actually be harmful to cats due to their sugar content. They also pose a choking risk and can lead to obesity.
Instead, show your cat some love by playing, cuddling, and feeding approved high-protein treats. Your cat’s health and well-being should always come first.
So be sure to keep those marshmallows away from your feline friend. There are much better ways to bond with your furry companion!