Have you ever been tempted to share your favorite cracker snacks with your cat? As a cat parent you want nothing but the best for your cat and you are prone to spoiling her in every term. However, when it comes to sharing human-grade foods, caution is always necessary.
Can cats eat crackers? Well, the general rule is that cats should not eat crackers. However, the exact answer depends on the type of crackers, serving size and feeding frequency. For example Goldfish, Ritz, Animal, Saltine, and crackers with fillings are not recommended while regular Graham, plain, wholegrain, vegan and rice crackers are more cat-friendly options.
In a nutshell, eating one or two bite-sized cracker chunks is not harmful. However, eating more than that can have consequences ranging from mild digestive upset to potentially life-threatening intoxications.
If you ever considered giving your cat crackers, you are reading the right lines. This article will tell you everything you need to know about cats and crackers – from risks and benefits through serving sizes and frequency to the different types of crackers and their suitability for cats.
Crackers are flat, either fried or oven-baked snacks, usually made of flour and flavor-enriched with different spices, herbs, seeds, or cheese. They can be made of different types of flours and the taste enticers can be added in the dough mixture or sprinkled on top.
They come in different shapes and sizes but are usually flat and with holes that prevent them from expanding during cooking.
As a cat parent, you are well-aware of how weird cats are. Not just in habits and behaviors, but also in feeding preferences. While most cats prefer meat-based foods, some cats opt for human foods – veggies, fruits, and even crackers.
Some cats can be intrigued by the cracker’s unusual smell and crunchy texture and others can be repelled by the strong and unique scent. Simply put, some cats like crackers and others do not.
When it comes to cats and crackers, there are certain benefits worth mentioning.
Made of wheat or other grains, crackers are packed with fiber. Although cats are carnivores and do not thrive on plant-based foods, modern cats just like their ancestors need small amounts of fiber. After all, it is recommended for cats to have munching access to wheatgrass and other type of cat-friendly grass.
Dietary fibers promote healthy digestion and ensure proper and adequate intestinal motility thus preventing issues like constipation and diarrhea.
Based on the grain type the crackers are made from, they can contain certain vitamins. Generally, crackers contain B-complex, A, K, and E vitamin.
B-complex vitamins support many bodily function and processes – from nutrients absorption through metabolism to healthy nerves and muscles.
Vitamin A promotes normal cell growth, healthy skin and vision, and strong immune response.
Vitamin E is the most powerful antioxidant which means it protects the cells from the free radical’s damaging effect. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and supports a healthy immune system.
Vitamin K has several roles, including promoting healthy bones, normal calcium metabolism, and acting as factor in the blood clotting cascade.
Cats are notorious for their finicky eating habits. They have delicate palates and get bored easily. Adding new items to their menu is a good way of promoting healthy appetite.
Crackers can serve as good covers when tricking your cat into swallowing her monthly de-wormer or other pill. Cats are also famousfor their unwillingness to collaborate in such activities. Hiding the pill is something new and nice-smelling might do the trick.
Before deciding to share your cracker snacks with your cat, consider the following risks.
In general, the carbs in crackers come from the wheat or other grain type the crackers are made from. Although part of these carbs are dietary fibers, the rest are hard to digest.
Namely, cats are not equipped for digesting high-carb foods. Therefore, carb-packed crackers can easily trigger digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and either diarrhea or constipation.
Just like some people, some cats are gluten intolerant. Cats that are gluten intolerant can experience an array of health issues if eating gluten-containing foods – from skin problems through weight fluctuations to digestive issues.
As true carnivores, cats need their calories primarily from proteins and in smaller amount from fats. However, some types of crackers, especially if fried instead of oven-baked are too high in fats.
In the short run this may case digestive upsets and in the long run, it increases the risk of obesity and pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an increasingly common and potentially life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas associated with eating high-fat foods.
It is no secret that sugar is addictive. In addition to increasing your cat’s risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes, eating sugary foods can make her addicted to sugar.
A cat that is obsessed with sugary foods will refuse her normal meals which will eventually lead to nutritional deficiencies and malnourishment.
Cats and pets in general, do not need salt in their diets. Eating salty crackers can trigger hypertension and cardiac issues. What is more, eating too much salty crackers at once puts your cat at risk from salt intoxication.
Salt intoxication in cats is a life-threatening condition that warrants immediate veterinary attention. A cat with salt poisoning will show signs like vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, excessive salivation, and seizures.
Spices are a big no-go for cats and if eaten in larger amounts can wreak havoc on the cat’s digestive system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and in more severe cases – ulcerations of the GI tract.
Not all herbs are safe to cats. For example dill, cilantro, basil, thyme, and rosemary are cat-friendly. On the other hand, oregano and tarragon can cause tummy issues, while garlic and chives are extremely toxic to cats.
Most seeds, like sesame, sunflower, and flaxseed are not toxic to cats but they are hard to digest and can cause tummy troubles.
Some crackers are manufactured in facilities that process soy, eggs, dairy, and peanut products. Even if the crackers’ original recipe does not contain these ingredients, they can be found in trace amounts.
Some extra sensitive cats can develop allergic reactions if some of these allergens are present in the crackers they consume. Adverse reactions in cats may manifest in the form of skin issues, gastrointestinal upsets, or in severe cases – impaired breathing.
From the above-listed benefits and risks, it is safe to assume that when it comes to cats and crackers, things are not always black and white.
Some cracker types are safer than others and different cats prefer different types of crackers.
Generally, feeding your cat crackers on a daily basis or in larger amounts is not recommended. However, giving a bite-sized chunk or two every now and then is not harmful.
The good news is that if you dropped a cracker and your cat managed to get a bite before you pick it up, there is nothing to worry about. Even if the cracker contained an ingredient that is harmful to cats, one bite is not enough to trigger severe consequences.
Kittens should never be offered store-bought crackers even if they are made exclusively from cat-friendly ingredients. This is because growing kittens have specific nutritional needs and their digestive systems are much more sensitive than in adult cats.
Cats and the different types of crackers
As mentioned different crackers come with other pros, cons and feeding guidelines for cats. Therefore, we will review some of the most popular crackers.
Plain, regular crackers are made of regular flour and lack additional salt, seasonings and flavors which makes them a relatively safe option for cats.
Safe amount: one cracker a week.
The name is self-explaining – the crackers are enriched with either salt or sugar. Sadly, neither salt not sugar are good for cats, so these crackers are a no-go for feline friends.
Safe amount: one bite-size chunk in case of accidental access.
Made from white flour, cooking yeast, and baking soda, the saltine or soda crackers are flat and square crackers lightly sprinkled with coarse salt.
Cats should not eat soda crackers because of the baking soda’s potential to cause intoxication in cats if consumed in larger amounts is the biggest concern.
Safe amount: one bite-sized chunk (but not fed purposely)
Graham crackers as the name suggests are made of graham flour. These sweet-flavored crackers are considered a healthy snack for humans since they are oven baked and rich in dietary fiber.
Graham crackers are generally too sweet for cats and should not be used as regular treats. However, the occasional offering will not harm your cat.
Safe amount: half a cracker a week.
Honey Graham crackers are honey-flavored crackers made of graham flour. They come in two varieties – regular and chocolate.
The regular alternative is safer for cats while the chocolate one should be avoided.
Safe amount: one to two bite-sized chunks per week (for the regular honey Grahams)
Teddy Grahams come in a fun teddy bear shape and are enriched with honey, chocolate or cinnamon.
Teddy Grahams are not suitable for cats because neither cinnamon nor chocolate are cat-friendly ingredients.
Safe amount: one teddy graham in case your cat access it herself.
Goldfish crackers are wheat crackers produced in the form of a fish. They come in many different tastes including original (saltine), pizza, parmesan, cheddar, and cheese trio.
When it comes to these crackers the only cat-friendly thing is their shape. The added salts and flavoring ingredients are too much for the cat’s sensitive digestive system.
Safe amount: one goldfish but not served deliberately.
Ritz crackers are lightly salted and disc-shaped snacks made from wheat flower. They come in a variety of tastes, including sea salt, salt and vinegar, cream cheese and onions.
Ritz crackers are simply too salty for cats and should never be fed on purpose.
Safe amount: one to two bite-sized chunks in case it steals them herself.
Animal crackers contain wheat flour, baking soda, soy, corn syrup, and salt. They are named animals because of their fun shapes.
Animal crackers are a no-go for cats – the salt and baking soda are toxic in larger amounts and the corn syrup is not a good fit for cats.
Safe amount: one Animal is your cat manages to get a hold of the package
Club crackers are flat and rectangular crackers made from wheat flour. They come in different flavors and as sandwich crackers with fillings.
Cats can eat Club crackers on rare occasions. That is for the regular Club crackers. The sandwich types are not allowed for cats.
Safe amount: half a cracker every two weeks.
Fish crackers are deep-fried snacks made from fish, tapioca and sago flour, and flavoring spices. Prawn crackers are also deep-fried but made primarily from prawns and starch. Oyster crackers despite their names do not contain oysters but are frequently served with oyster soups and creams.
None of these options are suited for cats. In addition to being packed with salt and hard to digest ingredients, they are deep fried and extremely rich in fats.
Safe amount: half a cracker in but not served purposely.
Cheese crackers are made of different kinds of flour and flavor enriched with cheeses – regular, cheddar, or parmesan.
Although most cats love cheese, cheese crackers are not suitable for cats because they are way too salty.
Safe amount: one bite-sized chunk a week.
Rice crackers are made of rice – white or brown. They are often flavored and enriched with salt, spices and seeds.
Plain rice crackers are safe for cats when used sparingly and infrequently. Just like for people, the brown rice version is healthier.
Safe amount: one quarter of a rice cracker a week.
Whole wheat crackers are made from enriched wheat flour which makes them a healthier alternative than most crackers. They come available in different flavors.
Cats can eat plain whole wheat crackers as long as they are offered in small amounts and occasionally.
Safe amount: half a cracker a week.
Peanut butter crackers are crackers enriched with peanut butter filling. Whether or not they are friendly for cats depends on the type of peanut butter. If the peanut butter is xylitol-free cats can safely snack on these crackers. However, if the peanut butter contains xylitol, they are forbidden as xylitol is extremely toxic to cats.
Safe amount: two bite-sized chunks per week (for xylitol-free versions)
Sandwich type crackers with fillings in the middle are tasty but sadly not a cat-friendly snack option. Even if the cracker itself is safe, the filling is rarely made of ingredients cats can eat.
Safe amount: one-bite sized chunk, in case of accidental access
In general, these might be the safest human-grade snack for cats. Free from grains, salt and sugar, these crackers lack the ingredients that make most crackers potentially risky for cats. They only thing you need to pay attention to is the flavoring.
Safe amount: few bite-sized chunks, once a week.
Luckily, you can easily stop your cat form eating crackers – just avoid offering them and keep the crackers out of her reach.
If your cat enjoys eating crackers and she is not supposed to, avoid eating them in front of her. Alternatively, before eating crackers give your cat a tasty cat-friendly meal so she will not feel the need to beg for your crackers.
As for keeping them out of reach – avoid leaving a bowl of crackers unattended and do not leave open cracker packages around the house.
The modern market offers tons of different cat crackers formulated specifically for cats. You can choose between different flavors and different ingredient contents.
Alternatively, you can put the apron on and bake your cat some homemade snacks using healthy and wholesome ingredients like peeled and cored apples, green beans, carrots, celery, xylitol-free peanut butter, cooked eggs, and low-fat mozzarella or cottage cheese.
All in all, crackers are not a cat-friendly human food. Although most crackers are not directly toxic to cats, the overall cons outweigh the potential pros.
Unlike us, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they thrive on meat-based foods. Occasional human food additions, in terms of veggies, fruits, or eggs are beneficial but crackers are not part of the cat’s natural diet.
However, the good news is your cat cannot end up in the emergency room after eating a chunk of a cracker.
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