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Before refrigeration and canning techniques, removing the moisture from meat was the best way to preserve it. Beef jerky is now considered a nice snack rather than a way to preserve leftover meat.
Cats are carnivorous by nature which means they are primarily meat eaters. Beef jerky is a form of dried and salted meat. Can cats eat beef jerky? The answer to this question is yes. Cats are allowed to eat beef jerky. Most of the beef jerky produced for human consumption is very high in sodium so it would be best to find one that is low sodium or to give your cat beef jerky that is made specifically for cats.
How Often Can You Feed Your Cat Beef Jerky?
The best answer to this question is on occasion. Beef jerky should not be considered a staple or a meal in your cat’s diet. Cats are purely carnivores which means that they do not need fruits and vegetables like us in order to get adequate nutrition.
Beef jerky is nothing more than beef that is dehydrated for preservation purposes. Nowadays it is mostly used as a quick healthy snack that is high in protein. Certain brands of beef jerky can contain different ingredients and preservatives that are actually not healthy for your cat and could potentially be harmful if ingested on a regular basis. A few examples would include flavored beef jerky like teriyaki, peppered, barbecue, and other flavors other than original. I would only recommend feeding your cat plain beef jerky with the lowest sodium content as possible.
It won’t be possible to find a beef jerky with no sodium since salt is used in the preservation process, but you can check the nutrition facts on the back of each brand to find the one with the lowest sodium content. Sodium plays a big role in thirst as well as blood pressure.
Beef Jerky Can Make Your Cat Thirsty
Salty snacks like beef jerky is a sure way to increase the amount of water your cat will drink. Thirst is a byproduct of a high sodium snack. Why else do you think they sell drinks with snacks in machines if snacks didn’t make you thirsty. Dried, salty snacks are an excellent way bars and other vendors exploit customers to make more money.
Well your cat is no different and a salty snack will trigger their thirst. Be sure to have enough water in a bowl ready for your cat when you are feeding them jerky. Using a pet fountain is also another great alternative to using a bowl and will also help encourage your cat to drink more water.
Dehydration in cats cat occur pretty easily and can have some serious consequences if not addressed properly. I wrote an article about preventing dehydration in cats. Click here to check out some quick tips on keeping your cat properly hydrated.
Flavors of Beef Jerky That Can Be Fatal to Your Cat
For the safety and health of your cat, it is best to avoid all types of beef jerky flavorings. Stick with a plain flavor with as little ingredients as possible. Some jerky that is normally safe for us to eat can potentially be fatal for your cat if you don’t take the proper precautions. Some of these ingredients include: onions, garlic, chives, and roots of similar natures are the biggest culprits. These ingredients are often used in many different types of beef jerky and chips which are extremely poisonous to cats. They destroy the red blood cells in your called causing a life threatening condition called Heinz Body Anemia.
Don’t forget about the sodium content. Beef jerky is loaded with sodium as it is a natural preservative. Ingesting high levels of sodium can cause an electrolyte imbalance in your cat and can even affect blood pressure in large amounts. High quantities of sodium is not usually present in the normal diet of a cat so even the smallest increments is enough to disturb their bodies homeostasis.
Don’t Forget About the Silica Gel Packet
Don’t forget about the little packet inside the bag of the beef jerky. The small gel packet that is used to help keep the beef jerky fresh is very toxic if ingested. It smells just like the beef jerky and your cat may mistaken it for a tasty treat. Make sure you store the beef jerky in a safe location so that your cat can’t claw open the bag and accidentally eat the gel packet if you haven’t already thrown it out.
The good news is that it is not toxic to your cat if swallowed. However, if your cat does manage to swallow a packet it can cause an obstruction in the G.I. tract. If your cat swallows an entire packet I would recommend seeing a veterinarian right away for further assistance.
Safe Alternatives to Beef Jerky for Your Cat
Did you know that there are safer versions of beef jerky made just for your cat? You can find safer versions of jerky made just for your cat at a pet store. It is potentially the same thing as the jerky we eat except it has a lot less ingredients and none of the potentially harmful ones. These jerky treats for cats on Amazon are also a safe choice for your cat.
Pet stores sell safer versions of beef jerky made especially for cats. It is basically the same as the beef jerky you would eat, but without the additives that could potentially be harmful to your cat. Although the occasional beef jerky treat made for human consumption is fine for cats, snacks tailored to them are healthier and they might even enjoy them more.
It’s safe for your cat to eat beef jerky as long as the proper precautions are met. Make sure to give your cat an unflavored version of jerky with as low of sodium content as possible. Make sure that beef jerky is given in moderation to your cat and never used as a whole meal or substitute for one. Never feed your cat flavored jerky or jerky with possible ingredients that can be harmful. To avoid any discrepancies with feeding your cat jerky, I would recommend purchasing a jerky made specifically for your cat.