Many cat owners like to treat their cats to their own food and if cats see you eating bread, they may seem interested. It is safe to give cats bread as long as you do so in moderation, and are careful what you give them.
What nutrients do cats need?
By their very nature, cats are carnivores. They are predators who prey on small animals and they are able to digest meat and proteins efficiently so that they get the nutrients they need.
To keep them healthy they need a good mix of fat and protein. One of the essential things a cat needs is Taurine and this is an amino acid found in meat and fish. A diet high in taurine helps cats to metabolise fat, so they do not put on weight and helps keep their teeth and coat healthy.
How does bread affect a cat’s diet?
- Bread is high in carbohydrate, which is not an essential part of a cat’s diet. Most bread contains refined carbohydrates and this means it contains less nutrients and more sugar. If you give your cat too much bread, it can cause them to put on weight which can lead to other health problems. One possible side effect of too much sugar is also Type 2 Diabetes.
- Too many carbohydrates can also affect the balance of a cat’s diet. If they fill up on carbohydrates, they will have no room left for the proteins they need.
- Bread can also contain high levels of salt. If your cat has heart or kidney problems, this level can be harmful to them. You should also be wary of giving healthy cats too much salt.
Bread has no benefit to a cat, but as an occasional treat it will do them no harm. It’s best to give them a small amount of bread, rather than give them a whole slice of it.
It can have its uses though. If your cat takes medication, you can disguise this in bread and feed them their medication that way.
Things to avoid
We may think we’re giving our cats a real treat, but some breads should be avoided altogether. If they fuss around you when you are preparing a sandwich, it may not be the bread they want, but they may be able to smell the filling.
- Never give your cat savoury bread, such as garlic bread, onion bread or breads containing nuts.
- Any bread containing raisins, such as tea cakes or malt loaf, should also be avoided.
- Bread should be given plain without any toppings. Jam contains too much sugar, chocolate spread can be toxic and peanut butter is high in salt.
- You can give your cat toast, but not if it’s burnt. Burnt toast contains acrylamide and this can cause never damage and even cancer.
- Cats should never be given uncooked bread dough. If they eat this the yeast may continue to rise, and this can cause bloating. In more severe cases the yeast can even ferment and result in alcohol poisoning.
Complications of too much bread
If you give your cat too much bread, they may react to it and there are several things you should look out for.
- Weakness and lethargy
- Vomiting / diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite or increased thirst
- Muscle tremors
- Pale gums
All of these symptoms suggest that your cat is reacting badly to something they have eaten, and you should consult a vet as soon as possible.
As carnivores, there are better ways to give your cat a treat.
- Lean cooked meat such as chicken, turkey or pork.
- Prepared cat treats are made specifically for a cat’s diet and should contain nothing which can upset them.
- They will love cooked salmon or tuna. Be careful with other fish as this may contain bones.
- Cooked eggs, but in moderation and in small pieces.
- Cooked carrots. You can try fruits as well. Your cat will soon tell you if they don’t like them.
The best diet for a cat is prepared cat foot as this will have all the nutrients your cat needs. It is ok to give them treats such as bread, as long as you do not give them treats too often. If you treat them too often they will come to expect this and start to get lazy and possibly overweight.