Marshmallows are one of those snack foods that have a place in both winter and summer seasons. Mini marshmallows are the perfect hot chocolate topper, while their full-sized counterparts are the key ingredient in every summer bonfire smores. Since you probably will have these tasty gelatinous snacks around the house all year round, you might wonder if it’s ok that your kitty has taken a liking to them.
While marshmallows are non-toxic to kitties, they’re not something you want to offer your feline friend. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Can’t Cats Eat Marshmallows?
If marshmallows aren’t toxic, there shouldn’t be any reason we can’t offer these treats to our cats, right? Wrong.
Besides the fact that marshmallows contain zero nutritional benefits for cats, their unique texture and large size can present a choking hazard.
It’s also important to note that marshmallows made with certain sweeteners can be toxic.
No Nutritional Value
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need a diet mostly of lean protein. Protein is a cat’s main source of energy, not sugar.
One single marshmallow has 4.1 grams of sugar. According to PetMD, the average 10-pound house cat needs approximately 250 calories daily. In addition to having 4.1 grams of sugar, a single marshmallow also has about 25 calories. Giving your house cat one marshmallow equals about 10% of its daily calories. There are plenty of other foods with nutrients you should be offering your cat to make up those 250 calories instead.
Sugary treats like marshmallows could result in weight gain and even put your kitty at risk for feline obesity. Obese cats can develop an increased risk for conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and urinary bladder stones.
Marshmallows are also high in sodium, which isn’t something you should be adding to your cat’s diet.
Marshmallows can pose a severe choking risk for small children and animals alike. When these gelatinous treats mix with saliva, the consistency changes from soft and spongy to extremely sticky. Think of it as trying to eat a heaping tablespoon full of peanut butter. Adult humans can manage the stickiness because our mouths are bigger, which can become very difficult for cats to contend with.
Xylitol is a sweetener sometimes used as an ingredient in marshmallows. Unfortunately, this sweetener can cause severe side effects in dogs, like seizures or even death. It was once thought that Xylitol didn’t pose any health risks to cats, but some evidence suggests it could be harmful to our feline friend when ingested in large amounts.
What Do I Do If My Cat Ate a Marshmallow?
Oops, you’ve dropped a marshmallow on the floor, and your cat snatched it up and ran off with it, eating it before you’ve had a chance to steal it back. Now what?
A single marshmallow will not harm your beloved kitty, provided it eats it without choking. Even if your cat gets into a bag of marshmallows and eats many of them, chances are there won’t be any serious side effects. The main problem with marshmallows comes from eating the high-sugar treat consistently. Your kitty may get a tummy ache from eating all that sugar, so be on the lookout for digestive or gastrointestinal symptoms.
A single marshmallow or two isn’t going to do any lasting damage to your cat. However, it is a whole different story if your all-too-curious kitty is consistently sneaking into the marshmallow bag or if you’re sharing your snack with it. Marshmallows may be non-toxic, but they harm your pet’s overall health. Cats cannot even taste sweet things, and with zero nutritional benefits to offer animals, it’s best to keep your marshmallow reserved for hot chocolate and smores.
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