Cereal is full of nutritious goodness and can make for a perfect start to the day. A lot of us wouldn’t really feel set to go without our bowl of cereal in the morning. We’ve all been there, in the kitchen, pouring milk into our cereal when our furry friend comes purring up, almost begging for some, but can cats eat cereal?
We’ll look at that in this article because, though it may be tempting to share your morning breakfast with your feline friend, you certainly wouldn’t want to feed them with anything that may prove harmful.
The short answer is yes, cats can indeed eat cereal. It certainly isn’t on any list of foods that they shouldn’t eat at least.
Now, that said, just because cats can eat cereal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they should or that it is safe, at least not in large quantities. The reason is simple: cats are what are known as obligate carnivores. That means that they need plenty of animal protein in their diet, without it they will not be able to maintain optimal health.
One of the problems with feeding your cat too much cereal is that they may start avoiding other more nutritious meals. Alternatively, they may gulp down the cereal and their more nutritious food and start putting on excess weight. Either way, this won’t be healthy for them.
Is Cereal Good For Cats?
When it comes to humans, cereal can form part of a healthy balanced diet. Most cat owners have perhaps wondered if it could be equally nutritious for their cat. Maybe you’ve asked yourself for example, can my cat eat cereal?
Well, as we made clear in the introduction, cereal is not toxic for your cats but non-toxic doesn’t equal good necessarily. Let’s take a closer look at some of the nutritional benefits of cereal and see which of them, if any, might also be good for your cat.
Two Types of Cereal
The first thing to note, there are two types of cereal: the sugary, refined-type and the more nutritious whole grain type. Eating the sugary, refined-type of cereal is neither good for you nor your pet. However, whole grain cereals can be very nutritious, especially if the grains are organic and unrefined. Whole-grain cereal is packed with vitamins and minerals and is a good source of fiber, something cats do actually need in their diet, albeit in small quantities.
The Nutritional Benefits of Whole Grain Cereal
In nature, cats get their fiber from chewing grass and other vegetation from time to time. Just like in humans, it helps crowd out the potentially bad bacteria in their guts at the same time as nourishing the good bacteria. Also similar to humans, it helps facilitate bowel movements by bulking up your pet’s stool and easing any constipation.
Fiber is also good for making us and our pets feel fuller for longer. That’s probably not a bad thing for us and it’s not necessarily a bad thing for your cat but it is a double-edged sword and the reason you want to be careful you don’t overfeed your cat with cereal.
Remember, your pet is an obligate carnivore. He needs plenty of room left for animal-protein rich foods to keep him healthy and well.
Other reasons that dietary fiber in cereals could be good for your cat in controlled portion sizes include the fact that it provides an excellent energy boost thanks to all the carbohydrates, helps lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, is good for the heart and it’s packed antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help lower your pet’s susceptibility to diseases like cancer, diabetes and arthritis.
Not bad for a simple bowl of cereal, hey?
So, If Cereal Is Not Bad For Cats, What’s To Worry About?
Having just spoken about some of the numerous benefits of introducing whole-grain cereals into your cat’s diet, you may well be ready to start feeding your furry friend a portion of cereal every day. If you’ve been wondering is cereal bad for cats, you now know it isn’t.
However, before you fill up your cat’s feeding bowl, you need to be aware of some of the potential downsides and what could go wrong.
As we’ve mentioned several times, your cat is an obligate carnivore. Its digestive system has evolved to break down animal flesh, not plants. Feeding your cat a plant-based food like cereal could lead to what is termed gastrointestinal distress.
- Changes in bowel and bladder movements
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Loss of appetite
At the very least, this will potentially be extremely uncomfortable for your cat but at worst it could require veterinary treatment and prove costly in terms of your cat’s health and your finances.
It is also worth pointing out that cats are not the best masticators. They often gulp their food down and swallow it in large chunks. Whilst this might be okay with slippery animal flesh, it could prove a choking hazard with certain types of cereal.
Bear in mind that you won’t necessarily notice your cat is choking unless you know what signs to look for. They may or may not make a choking-type sound but you should look out for dilated pupils, a runny nose, watery eyes, or heavy salivation. These are all signs your cat may be choking.
If your cat starts choking, give them water and massage their back and tummy to try and help them bring up whatever it is that they are choking on.
Also, one other potential downside is that a little bit of fiber can be good for your cat but too much will have a laxative effect and may cause your cat bouts of diarrhea. This won’t be much fun for him and it won’t be much fun for you if he can’t quite make it outside or to his litter tray in time.
Moderation, Everything In Moderation!
Hopefully, this article has helped answer the question if cats can eat cereal. A little bit of cereal here and there is not only harmless to your cat, it may even be beneficial to their health, particularly if they’re not venturing out much and getting fiber in their diet from elsewhere.
The key is not feeding them too much cereal or too often. Also, if you are feeding your cat cereal, always be vigilant in case your pet should start choking. Follow the advice in this article and there is no reason your feline friend shouldn’t join you in enjoying the occasional bowl of cereal!
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